Employment Yin Yang

Page 1












Uma Ganesh CEO, Global Talent Track

Srikantan Moorthy VP, Head-Education Research, Infosys Technologies

H.S. Ballal Pro Chancellor, Manipal University



Yin Yang Industry and institutions need to strike a balance to help train students and prepare India’s skilled set P10








FOREWORD The (Un)employability Gap



ome 30 years ago, as I was approaching my Class X board exams, my well-wishers were bothered by a single question–what I would study, and how it would help me get a job. For the people in my generation the question of a college degree almost entirely revolved around the question of a job, or a career. The attitude is not that different today. Growing up in Patna, I had only three career choices—engineering, medical and civil services. Since then, more professional disciplines have been introduced. And, the number of higher education institutions have multiplied. For all this expansion of choices, and despite the much-touted demographic dividend of India, recruiters are still struggling to find “good” people. There are surveys that show just how “unemployable” our graduates are. Surveys state that companies can hire only one in 10 graduates. Others, five in 100. It’s a sorry state of affairs. Are our institutions failing in their attempts to educate young Indians? My academic friends beg to differ. They believe a professor’s role is to set a foundation and then send graduates off to figure out the rest themselves. On the other hand, students and employers are frustrated by the quality of teaching and by the lack of training (for employment). Somewhere, we have to strike a balance. I see that our educational paradigm is now driven by examinations. Students tend to focus on rote learning to pass. Adding to the problem are single-discipline institutions that focus prematurely on specialist subjects and hamper holistic learning—you end up with graduates who don’t bring “life-skills” to an interview. We decided to focus on this aspect of higher education for this issue of EDU. We bring to you perspectives of employers, institutions, and “intermediaries”, trying to bridge this employability gap. In some cases, we found employers playing this intermediary role by supplementing higher education through training. We also spotted standalone institutions providing supplemental skill training and capability-building. One day, I hope these intermediaries will disappear altogether, as the quality of our education and degree of specialisation will improve. Till then, we will have to live with this “(Un)employability Gap”.

Dr Pramath Raj Sinha pramath@edu-leaders.com

October 2010  EDUTECH









22 RAHUL CHOUDAHA Why hasn’t India been bitten by the bug of internationalisation? 34 DHEERAJ SANGHI If lack of research is the problem with faculty, what is the solution?


46 RISHIKESHA T. KRISHNAN Case study method, and its alternatives, give students a taste of the real world



56 DEEPAK PENTAL Meet the ex Vice Chancellor of DU who realised that his PhD ‘wasn’t good enough’ By Rohini Banerjee


36 TECHNICAL EDUCATION Institutions develop new ways of learning and collaboration By Vikramaditya G. Yadav & Ganapati D. Yadav


Life is full of little epiphanies”


24 B-SCHOOL MANAGEMENT How well can management institutions measure their effectiveness By R. Gopal


EDUTECH  October 2010

10 EMPLOYMENT YIN YANG Finding the balance is never easy. We explore the ever-widening gap between industry and academia, and meet the intermediaries who strive to build bridges By Padmaja Shastri


Learn more about what’s currently happening in institutions around the world. The Chronicle of Higher Education shares its perspectives with EDU 48 GLOBAL FOCUS DRAWS STUDENTS TO EUROPE FOR BUSINESS By Katherine Mangan


All about the business of clearinghouses. Does India lack a clear-cut solution to solving its tedious data problems?


58 BOOKS Integrating Study Abroad Into The Curriculum The Heart Of Higher Education

DIALOGUE 42 HI-TECH & HI-TOUCH EDU meets the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ of the HotelSchool The Hague



59 PRODUCTS Glasses-Free 3D TVs The Traveller’s Guide

PRODUCTION & LOGISTICS SR GM OPERATIONS: Shivshankar M Hiremath PRODUCTION EXECUTIVE: Vilas Mhatre LOGISTICS: MP Singh, Mohamed Ansari, Shashi Shekhar Singh

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Uma Ganesh CEO, Global Talent Track

Srikantan Moorthy VP, Head-Education Research, Infosys Technologies


H.S. Ballal Pro Chancellor, Manipal University


Yin Yang Industry and institutions need to strike a balance to help train students and prepare India’s skilled set P10




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at a glance 0 7 P R O T E S T 0 7 R E V I E W 08 TECHNOLOGY 08 REFORMS 09 BAN 09 DISMISSAL & MORE

PRESIDENCY COLLEGE APPOINTS FIRST VICECHANCELLOR A renowned professor of philosophy, Amita Chattopadhyay, is set to be the first Vice Chancellor of Presidency University (see picture right). Chattopadhyay is an alumnus of Presidency College and a retired professor of Jadavpur University. “I am happy. To be frank, I am overwhelmed. It is a great honour for me that I have been selected as the first Vice Chancellor of Presidency University,” she said.

ANDHRA PRADESH RECEIVES 1.2 BILLION FOR EDUCATION Indian industrialists, alumni of Harvard, are showing their gratitude with multi-million dollar grants


Harvard Gets $ 60 Million In Grants The Ivy League university has been receiving multi-million dollar grants from Indian industrialists, who are part of their alumni


ndian industrialist Anand Mahindra recently gifted Harvard University a grant of $10 million—in the honour of his mother, Indira Mahindra. The sum is the largest grant made for any humanities centre in the university. The Centre has been renamed the Mahindra Humanities Centre and will be led by Director Homi Bhabha. The Centre will advance interdisciplinary exchanges among Harvard faculty, and faculty from other institutions, graduates, undergraduates, and the public. It will sponsor a range of discussions, lectures, readings, conferences, performances, workshops and seminars, as well as graduate and postdoctoral fellowships and hopes to foster collaborations among humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Harvard also received a gift of $50 million from Tata Companies, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, and the Tata Education and Development Trust, philanthropic entities of India’s Tata Group. The gift, the largest from an international donor in the School’s 102year history, will fund a new academic and residential building on the HBS campus in Boston, for participants in the School’s broad portfolio of Executive Education programs. The school hopes to break meet new benchmarks for the building, which will be named Tata Hall, next spring.


EDUTECH  October 2010

The central government recently released 1.2 billion as grant to the Andhra Pradesh government, under the centrally-sponsored scheme for postmatric scholarships for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes. The objective of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students falling in the postmatriculation, or postsecondary stages, and to enable them to complete their education.

LSR PRINCIPAL MAY BE DU’S FIRST WOMAN VC Meenakshi Gopinath, Principal of Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University (DU), and a veteran educationist, may be next-in-line to succeed Deepak Pental, the former Vice Chancellor of DU. If appointed, Gopinath would be the first woman Vice Chancellor of DU. Gopinath, however, has said that she was not aware of the development. Deepak Pental’s five-year term as the Vice Chancellor ended recently. A senior university official said, “From what we know, Gopinath will take over this month.” As a peace activist, Gopinath, over the years, has been actively working for deepening people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan.

UPDATES protest

NEHU Vice Chancellor Takes Charge Amid Protests Students ask eminent biochemist, A.N. Rai, to step down from his post as the new Vice Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Rai rubbishes corruption allegations


iochemist A.N. Rai took charge as the Vice Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) amid protests from students’ organisations, which set a day’s deadline for his resignation. Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, said the issue should have been handled “properly”. “A central team should have visited the state to sort out the imbroglio, before Day-old VC faces resignation demands appointing a new VC,” Sangma said. Rai, the former Vice Chancellor of pham Kharlyngdoh, chairman of the Mizoram University, was appointed by Coordination Committee. The CoordinaPresident Pratibha Patil, after former VC tion Committee comprises Meghalaya Pramod Tandon completed his tenure on Postgraduate Students’ Union, Khasi September 12, 2010. “We will not accept Students’ Union, NEHU unit and the Rai as our VC as he has tainted credenA’chik Postgraduate Students’ Union. tials in Mizoram University. We have Rai has been accused by the Mizoram given him a day’s time to quit,” said KynStudents’ Union of violating a memoran-

dum of understanding and misinterpreting the eligiblity criteria set by the University Grant Commission for the appointment of lecturers. However, Rai termed the protest as an “attempt by few people to remove me” from the post. “People would soon realise. The allegations against me are not true. I hope they will know me through my work,” he said. Asked if he would bow down to the students’ protest, Rai said: “I have been appointed by the President. Therefore, I am still honouring this appointment.” Rubbishing allegations, he said: “If anyone wants to know the truth, they should visit the university (Mizoram) and find out the facts rather being content with the rumours.”


Lord Browne’s Review Makes Waves In England A MAJOR REVIEW of university funding done by an Independent Review Of Higher Education & Student Finance In England has recommended that English universities should be able to charge unlimited fee. Lord Browne’s review proposes setting out models of charges up to £12,000 a year for a degree course. The review also makes it clear that universities that charge more than £6,000 a year would lose a proportion of the fee to help cover the cost of student borrowing. The report seeks to balance higher charges with support for applicants from poorer families. This competitive market would mean that universities could go out of business. Students will not have to pay fees up-front, but will receive loans, which they won’t have to start repaying until their income reaches £21,000 per year, up from the current level of £15,000. Elsewhere in the UK, Scottish students, studying in Scotland, do not have to pay any fees. In Northern Ireland and Wales, fees are charged up to a maximum of £3,290.


universities may £ 12,000 English be able to charge will be the fee cap that

more, if charged by a university, will lead to it losing a £6,000 and proportion of its fee October 2010  EDUTECH


UPDATES technology

IIM Ranchi Head Seeks Virtual Boost For B-School Board members roped in to look for mentors and US consultants for virtual classes


attling with a shortage of faculty, Ranchi-based Indian Institute of Management (IIM Ranchi) (in picture) is contemplating virtual classes, by top brains in world business, to fill the classroom gap. Its newly-appointed Director, M. Joseph Xavier, at his maiden board meeting, expressed a desire to bring IIM Ranchi at a par with other B-schools in India. The board also discussed measures that they wished to introduce, which include roping in US-based consultants to arrange virtual classes to be taken by an international faculty. “Money is no constraint,” Xavier said. The board meeting was chaired by R.C. Bhargawa, the chairman of the institute and chairman of Maruti Suzuki India Limited. The Director of IIM Calcutta, Shekhar Chaudhary, Jharkhand chief secretary A.K. Singh, Vice Chancellor of Central University of Jharkhand, D.T. Khating a n d p r o f e s s o r o f I I M Ca l c u t t a

Chakraborty were also present at the meeting. I I M Ca l c u t t a , t h e mentor institute to Ranchi IIM, is expected to invite US-based educational consultants to arrange virtual classes from top-notch faculty. “A consultant is supposed to provide technical support mechanism for teaching such as web-based methodology IIM Calcutta, the mentor institute to IIM Ranchi and video conferencing, for students,” said the identified 200-acres at Nagri in Ranchi’s secretary of the Jharkhand human suburb for a full-fledged campus. The resources department, Mridula Sinha, institute is also contemplating shortwho was also present in the meeting. term courses for executives from next The B-school, presently functioning session. “For extra facilities, we will be from the Soochna Bhavan owned by the using the Sri Krishna Institute of Public Jharkhand Public Relations DepartAdministration,” said Xavier. SKIPA ment, has 44 students in its first batch trains probationers of administrative of two-year postgraduate programme in service officers. management. The government has


Sibal Introduces Reforms In IIMs The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have been allowed to open campuses overseas IN A MEETING between HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, and directors and chairpersons of IIMs, powers were granted to the members of boards, of the IIMs, to start centres abroad. It was also decided that the IIMs will be free to raise salaries of their directors and faculty from the funds generated inhouse. A ministry official said, “Kapil


EDUTECH  October 2010

Sibal directed that old and new IIMs sit together and streamline the use of technology for class-scheduling, attendance and marks compilation.” The official hinted that an overhaul may be on the cards, as the issue of representing the IIM society, government, faculty and alumni on the boards, was also discussed. “It was decided, in principle, that directors of the IIMs will now be

appointed through a process wherein the board of governors will suggest three names to the government. The Centre would then choose one.” Other powers given to the boards include freedom to create posts within approved norms, freedom to amend IIM rules, the power to acquire and dispose property not funded by the ministry. Other changes include, powers to approve budget and to manage funds generated by the IIMs on their own. The minister pointed out that the boards should take steps to prepare annual action plans and key performance indicators at each level, and be fully accountable and transparent.


DU Seeks Lifting Of Substance Ban University officials are looking for permission to use radioactive substances again


team of Delhi University officials headed to Mumbai to meet the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) officials to request them to lift a ban on the use of radioactive substances in the university laboratories. A.K. Bakshi, head of the chemistry department, said, “We are going to meet the AERB officials to request them to lift the ban on the usage of Cobalt-60 and other radioactive substances in the laboratories. This ban is seriously hampering our study schedule.” The AERB

withdrew permission from the university to use radioactive substances last month, after it failed to submit its reply within a stipulated time on the radioactive exposure accident that happened in the capital’s Mayapuri junkyard in April. Bakshi said the inquiry report prepared by the chemistry department on the disposal of gamma cell was submitted last week and is being examined by a threemember committee of the executive council and “action has been taken against erring officials”.


Plea Against AMU Centres Dismissed

Allahabad High Court dismissed a writ petition, points towards Madame President’s approval


he Allahabad High Court has dismissed a writ petition against the Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) decision to set up two new centres at Malappuram in Kerala and Murshidabad in West Bengal. “The division bench of the Allahabad High Court, comprising Chief Justice F.I. Rebello and Justice A.P. Sahi, held that there was nothing wrong in establishing the AMU centres, especially since the same was duly approved by the President of India in her capacity as the visitor of the university,” official spokesperson of AMU Rahat Abrar said. Z.K. Faizan, former president of AMU students’ union, filed a public interest litigation, seeking stay on the university’s decision to start the new centres. He claimed the AMU Act did not have any provisions which enabled the university to open any centres outside Aligarh. “Counsel representing the university argued that prior to issuance of order sanctioning the new centres by the president of India, thorough examination of reports related to the project was made by the authorities and the same cannot be challenged merely on someone’s apprehensions,” Abrar said. The university has decided to establish centres in Pune, Kishanganj in Bihar and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. The central government had sanctioned 250 million each for the Malappuram and Murshidabad centres.

VOICES “JUST ONE IN FIVE DISADVANTAGED YOUNGSTERS GO TO A UNIVERSITY, compared to well over half of the young people from wealthier backgrounds, and this gap is getting wider” —DAVID WILLETTS Minister of State for Universities and Science, England

“UNIVERSITIES SHOULD DEPART FROM EXISTING NORMS TO accommodate the scope for a collective development in the field of higher education” —K.N. PANIKKAR Vice Chairman, Kerala State Higher Education Council, India


“LORD BROWNE’S RECOMMENDATIONS, IF ENACTED, represent the final nail in the coffin for affordable higher education. His proposals will make our public degrees the most expensive in the world” —SALLY HUNT General Secretary, The University and College Union, London

October 2010  EDUTECH




“There is a need for the Industry to take

yin yang


active interest in the —Dr H. S. Ballal

educational institutions Pro Chancellor

where their potential Manipal University

employees are groomed, and be involved”

EDU examines if the industry and academia can come together to create a wholesome environment in which India produces employable graduates BY PADMAJA SHASTRI

Take a look at the number of people that will be needed in various sectors October 2010 10 EDUTECH  over the next decade:



Auto Industry



Textile and Clothing



ut of every 100 campus candidates, KPIT Cummins Infosystems, a Pune-based IT consulting company, is able to recruit only around

15 to 18 people. The strike rate (ratio of applications to selection) is even lower—one out of every 10 people screened—for Zensar Technologies, another Pune-based IT-BPO company, which could hire only 599 out of 5893 eligible candidates in a recent campus recruitment drive. The company had the capacity to absorb upto 800 people. “On an average, approximately 70 percent of the applicants fail to get past Zensar’s qualifying aptitude test. Even among those that do, majority are eliminated due to a lack of requisite communication skills, or poor technical grasp,” says Gopalji Mehrotra, Head – Human Resources (HR). This scenario holds true not just for IT companies, but cuts across industry sectors. While the strike rate is 1:10 in the auto industry, it is an abysmal 1:15 in the insurance sector, especially in the frontline. There is no dearth of availability of jobs though. According to a National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) report, incremental requirement of various sectors of the industry will rise to 240 million over the next 10 years. Some of the biggest job creators in the coming decade, the report says, are expected to be the auto industry–35 million people; building and construction industry–33 million, textile and clothing–26 million, organised retail–17 million, transportation and logistics–18 million and real estate services–14 million. What’s more, the report says that newer employment avenues requiring skilled manpower might open up. The IT-ITES industry would alone need about 12.3 million graduates by 2020, as per the National Association of Software and Service Companies’ (NASSCOM) Perspective 2020 Report. The cumulative talent available

“Students should be encouraged to solve more Srikantan Moorthy

problems rather than only Vice President and Head,

prepare for exams by Education & Research,

studying past exam Infosys Technologies




Building & Construction Industry



Real Estate Services



Organised Retail



Transportation and Logistics


COVER STORY Strategy upto 2020, based on current supply trends, is estimated at 10 million, so there would be a shortage of about 2.3 million graduates, the report states. Interestingly, this is despite the fact that India’s graduate outturn has more than doubled in the past decade, with an addition of 3.7 million graduates in fiscal year 2010, a scale unmatched by any other country. This includes 4.97 lakh engineering graduates and 72,777 engineering post graduates during the year, according to NASSCOM Strategic Review 2010.

The Problem While that is an impressive line-up, only a fraction of them are found to have the requisite skills to execute jobs in the industry. So, the problem is of neither lack of job opportunities nor availability of qualified candidates, but one of employability due to huge gaps in skills. According to The Rao Committee Report of 2003, this gap has arisen in recent years because of the mushrooming of a large number of private technical institutions and polytechnics. “Barring some exceptions, there is scant regard for maintenance of stan-

dards,” the report said. There is no regulating body that assures that these colleges and universities follow a certain standard of education. Often these institutes have unqualified instructors and inadequate infrastructure, raising many concerns regarding quality. And the students passing out of these institutes face several problems at the time of recruitment, such as lack of knowledge of interview techniques and inability to express the knowledge gained, among other things. “We find that most graduates are shaky on even the most fundamen-




What is Infosys doing to tackle the issue of unemployability?

Srikantan Moorthy Vice President and Head, Education and Research, Infosys Technologies speaks to EDU about what his company is doing to enhance the quality of talent pool in our higher education institutes


EDUTECH  October 2010

Our recruitment philosophy is centered on learnability and competency development. It is done across 3 stages. 1.Before the graduates join Infosys we reach out to students and faculty of over 400 colleges through our Campus Connect programme to improve competencies. 2.Fresher training programmes of over 23 weeks are held at the Infosys Mysore campus. 3. Certification programmes and assessments are held through

Strategy COVER STORY tal concepts in their field of study. Even those with a technical degree often have had no access to computers and hence lack basic programming knowledge. Their English competency is so poor that they are often unable to carry on a simple conversation,” says Dr Shantanu Paul, CEO and MD of Hyderabad-based TalentSprint, which trains technical and management graduates in employable skills. Little wonder then, that the current employability rate is 26 percent for engineering graduates and 10 to 15 percent for other graduates, according to NASSCOM.

“The common issue that all of us face among prospective employees is lack of relevant skills and “hands-on” experience. Their knowledge is more theoretical and they find it challenging when it comes to putting theory to practice. Besides technical competence we also experience gap in areas such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving ability, analytical ability, creative and lateral thinking, planning and organising,” says Sumedha Nashikkar, Head – HR, KPIT Cummins. Many a time it is seen that even technically sound candi-

continuous education program for people who have more than one year of experience with us. Last year, more than 2,20,000 assessments were conducted. We have several academia outreach programs aimed at enhancing competencies and “catching them young” to create a continuous supply of industry-ready talent pool to cater to the growth in the Information Technology (IT) space. These include: SPARK:—This programme conducted in our campuses initiates school and college students into the world of IT through interactive sessions about values, industry relevance and demystifying IT. Teachers of government-aided schools of rural areas are trained to use computers. Spark has touched over 1,00,000 students and 5,700 faculty since its inception in August 2008. Campus Connect Programme: This industry-academia partnership programme was launched in 2004, to enhance the quantity and quality of the IT talent pool. The programme is designed to offer benefits to all stakeholders in engineering education supply chain such as students, faculty members, college management and policy makers and align their needs with those of the IT industry. We have trained 4400 faculty who in turn have

dates have poor social and behaviour skills that the industry needs, like negotiation and conflict management, ability to work under pressure and being assertive when dealing with people. “One of the first things that we do in our programmes is to get people to ask questions. Most of them just say ‘yes’ to whatever they are told, don’t make eyecontact, which can be interpreted as’not trustworthy’ by the foreign partners,” says Aparna Prabhudesai, proprietor of Bodhivriksh, a soft and behavior skills training firm.

trained 80,000 students in technical and soft skills in engineering institutions to make them industryready, when they graduate.

Do you train completely in-house or do you depend on external third party organizations? We offer round-the-year instructor-led and e-learning programmes to our current and prospective employees. Depending on the training program/ course, Infosys uses in-house or external trainers. The choice is influenced primarily by the decision to get the best training team for

Students should be encouraged to solve more problems rather than only prepare for exams by studying past exam papers

employees. We have increased focus on training to ensure that employees deepen their competencies and are multi-skilled. Infosys currently spends ` 8.7 billion every year on educating and training the workforce.

What else can be done to make more students employable? The academia and the industry must work closely in order to meet the supplydemand gap of job-ready professionals in our country. Students should be encouraged to solve more problems rather than only prepare for exams by studying past exam papers. There should be more emphasis on team work during the education and such team based projects should start earlier than the final year. Community work can also help build empathy while developing team skills in students. Competitions like debate competitions can help students develop and sharpen their communication skills during the education process. There is also a need to connect to the new paradigms of student learning patterns. Today, in contrast to traditional modes, most of the student learning happens through peer network and through adoption of newer media such as Facebook, blogs and ipods.

October 2010  EDUTECH



Training Issues In a good learning environment, students develop these skills automatically. However, in most educational institutions that environment is found missing. So, industry has to invest huge amounts of time and money on training its freshers. According to NASSCOM, the average training spend for Indian IT firms on a new recruit, to make up for his/her inadequate skills, is over $ 4,350, 40 percent of the cost of an average engineering course. The auto and engineering sector have to run their graduate trainee programmes for around a year,

problem and diffuse issues independently,” says Lokesh Mehra, Regional Manager–Corporate Responsibility, Cisco–South Asia. It is these very skills that his company trains students in, in a simulated environment of the actual job scenario, before providing technology certifications. However, not everyone can invest billions of rupees in setting up sprawling training campuses like Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Cognizant; and they look at investors to take the load off. It is to fulfill this need to bridge the skills gap and deliver ‘industry-ready’ products

management, people management and IT service management. The most cited reasons for the glaring gap in skill-sets of students passing out of Indian HEIs is outdated curricula and not enough industry participation in academia. “There is a need for the Industry to take active interest in the educational institutions where their potential employees are groomed and be involved in their development process. This will cut down on the Industry’s training costs and they will be able to get candidates who can deliver to their expectations from day one,” says

Industry talks about these issues but is not ready to invest people and resources to help. THEY EXPECT ACADEMIA TO DO THIS ON THEIR OWN. A huge impact can be made if industry groups in India seriously join hands with IUCEE and similar programmes —Prof Krishna Vedula Executive Director for Indo-US Collaboration for Engineering Education To read the full interview with Professor Krishna Vedula, go to www.edu-leaders.com

before the engineers they recruit start becoming productive. Many companies run comprehensive in-house programmes for training employees, which include not only technical courses, such as software programming, but also those focused on imparting soft and behaviour skills, such as leadership, business communication, e-mail etiquette, personality development and presentation skills. In addition to these, many companies allow employees to enroll for certification courses to improve their skill sets for the future. “It is not enough to solve a problem technically. A guy should know how to critically analyse a


EDUTECH  October 2010

that a host of independent training companies and finishing schools have come up in the last decade (see box). “Apart from technical and soft skills, another critical piece missing in the puzzle is that little or no exposure to the business side of technology at the campus level. This is where we come in,” says Navyug Mohnot, CEO of QAI, a software skills training company. His company is working with companies like Infosys, Wipro and Cognizant and higher education institutes (HEIs) like IIT Delhi and Symbiosis by offering focused training in business critical skills in the software industry, like project management, process

Dr H.S. Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal University.

Forging Alliances For such “tailor-made employees”, many companies across different sectors are entering into partnerships with HEIs. Leading retail conglomerate, Future Group, has joined hands with 16 MBA colleges which offer two-year retail management programmes. That gives it an almost captive talent pool, which is productive from day one. “We interact with the students before they join the course and during the course, as they work with us 4-5 times in a year. So, they do not require any additional training when they join





Dr H.S. Ballal, Pro Chancellor of Manipal University, talks to EDU about his varsity’s initiatives to boost its students’ skill-sets What does Manipal University do to ensure that its students develop employable skills?

How do you identify and bridge the skills gaps that your students might have?

We have internships during the course which enable the students to get hands—on experience and practical orientation. Faculty conduct specialised certificate courses and workshops, with the help of industry, for the students. We also encourage students to participate in and organise various competitive events/festivals for their holistic development. This sharpens their soft skills like team building and coordination, interpersonal communication and other managerial abilities. Such events also test their knowledge in their domain areas, enabling them to improve. We encourage international student exchanges through tie-ups with foreign universities and by allowing student bodies such as `The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience’ and AIESEC to start their chapters in Manipal University. These give students an exposure to global practices.

We have continuous assessment of the gaps which exist between industry expectations and academic inputs. Accordingly our Board of Studies and Academic Senate tries to bridge these gaps by revamping the curriculum, planning workshops, seminars, internships and projects in the identified areas. The university also arranges ‘guest talks’ by industry and academic experts to connect industry expectations and academic inputs better.

Have your collaborations with the industry helped in increasing the employability of students? Our collaborations with reputed organisations like Infosys, Wipro, IBM, Cisco and Phillips, for enhancing both domain and soft skills of our students, have immensely benefited them. We have ‘Infosys Campus Connect’, which focusses on technical as well as soft skills, ‘Wipro Mission 10 X’ on training faculty in technical teaching and

The university also arranges guest talks by industry and academic experts to connect industry expectations and academic inputs

collaborations with IBM, CISCO and SAP for certification programs. Students who have undergone these programmes have found wide acceptance in the industry. The fact that 90 per cent of our engineering and management students were placed directly from the campus in 2009-10, demonstrates that.

Do you conduct the add-on skills training in-house or engage external experts to impart it? Based on the identified training needs in domain skills, we train the trainers by sending them to the Industry. After coming back they train the faculty who in turn train the students. For this, services of external organisations are not used. But, we do use facilities provided by various companies for conducting certificate courses as a value-add for the students, free of charge. For instance, the 16 terabit storage facility from EMC2 Corporation, installed in the Central Computing Facility Laboratory, helps the IT department offer an elective in `information and storage management’. And the Cisco Lab, set up with routers and switches, helps in conducting Cisco courses in networking. Such courses give students an edge during job interviews. Training in add-on skills, like software packages in the market, is done with a mixture of in-house and external trainers in the evenings and weekends. October 2010  EDUTECH





us,” says Sanjay Jog, Chief People Officer of Future Group. The IT industry is among the most proactive in entering industry-academia partnerships. Infosys engages with over 400 colleges through its Campus Connect programme, while Zensar has exclusively tied up with 13 colleges under its Centres of Excellence (COE) programme where its technical managers actively engage in distance learning modules for third— year engineering students. “This is where some of our best hires come from,” says Mehrotra. KPIT Cummins, through its PACE programme, creates project banks and sponsors projects for the final year students; conducts special workshops for students at college campuses in soft skills and process related training including basics of six sigma methodology. “We also participate in sharing our views with education bodies to align curriculum with industry needs,” says Nashikkar. As part of its Educational Institutions Alliance Program, HCL Technologies has launched HCL K2 Academy, which is partnering with universities to train students in contemporary technologies, projects, industry exposure through principal workshops by Microsoft, Oracle and Redhat. Many companies like HCL and KPIT also encourage students to spend a day at their campuses and give them an opportunity to interact with people on the ground. Some believe in catching them really young. Infosys, for instance, provides IT exposure to students of urban high schools through a twoweek summer vacation programme at its development centres. For HEIs, these partnerships mean improvement in the technical know-how, professional competency and skill sets of their students, making them more employable. Amity has such tie-

EDUTECH  October 2010

ups with Nokia Siemens and Cisco, while College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) has MoUs with IBM, John Deere and Wipro, wherein the industry partners train their students as per industry needs and help in updating curriculum. Similarly, Manipal has an academic Alliance with SAP U Academy for SAP Certification and a collaboration with Phillips for Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) project related training. Some companies also provide

summer internship training in their organisations as well as live projects to final year students, which helps them gain practical knowledge in their domain area.

Campus Skilling Many HEIs across the country like Manipal, Amity and COEP, have even begun to offer courses in add-on skills at the campus, after regular classes. “We offer many value-add programmes with a view to develop




Strategy COVER STORY the technical and managerial capabilities and overall personality of our students. For instance, learning one foreign language, business communication, military training, confidence building and behavioral workshops are part and parcel of every course that we offer,” says Dr Balvinder Shukla, Pro Vice Chancellor (Academics), Amity University. Similarly, COEP conducts programmes to teach techniques to face interviews, group discussion,

preparing reports, power point presentation, team work, managerial abilities and time management through group activities and games. Not just HEIs in metros and big cities, but focussed exposure to the industry has helped a group of professional colleges run by the Gowrishankar Education and Charitable Trust even in a small city like Satara ensure high employability. “We have 100 percent placement in most of our colleges. This is because our stu-

12.3 million

graduates will be needed by IT-ITES industry by 2020 dents have continuous exposure to the industry—one or two industrial visits per subject per semester in the first year and internships from second year onwards, apart from one or two lectures per subject by industry experts every

Dr Uma Ganesh, Chief Executive Officer of Global Talent Track, speaks to EDU about how intermediary corporate training companies like hers form the vital link between the industry and academic institutions What is the role of skills training companies like Global Talent Track (GTT)? We act as a bridge between academic institutions and the industry. Companies value the fact that we invest time in understanding industry expectations and translate them into classrooms. It is different from universities’ approach, where the mindset is that universities are not created to service the industry, but to disseminate knowledge. So their understanding of the industry requirements is quite sketchy. This is where we come in, as we are more industry driven and nimble footed in providing customised training solutions to companies’ ever-changing human resource requirements. Many of us have worked in the corporate sector earlier and have built equations and rapport with people in the industry, which also helps in convincing them that their time is meaningfully spent. We have built an interactive blended (online, face to face and videos) learning platform, along with industry experts, which helps in quickly ramping up an employable talent pool. We have also developed a talent assessment tool, which helps students in understanding their

strengths and capabilities, which enables them to discover career options and prepare for the most suitable role/ function in a sector they want to work in. For instance, IT industry has so many opportunities other than software programming.

In which sectors do you provide skills training? How many students and faculty have you trained so far? We work across knowledge services including IT-ITES, banking, financial services and insurance and offer a range of career oriented learning content from soft skills to advanced concepts in domain areas like IT and banking. Through our Global Knowledge Platform

It is different from universities’ approach, where the mindset is that universities are not created to service the industry

for Professional Practice, we bring industry exposure into the classrooms by making available a huge bank of industrial projects and mentors to the students. We also enable collaboration with other students doing similar projects. This way, all students are able to work on real industry projects, even if companies are not able to accommodate them physically. GTT has so far trained 10,000 students, across 15 states, in the last one and a half years. We have a faculty development programme, meant to help faculty in HEIs in smaller towns like Nanded and Satara appreciate what the industry expects. Most of them have no understanding of the emerging sectors and have never been inside a company. We hold small workshops in areas like using computer and internet to develop course content, make power point presentations.

Do you work with colleges or governments or individuals? All the three. We are working with universities and colleges, especially in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities like Sangli, Kopergaon, Jabalpur, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur, where students need to be groomed right from the beginning. We also work with 21 colleges in difficult terrain in Mandi and Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. Because of their location, their awareness of industry requirements is very low. October 2010  EDUTECH


is Degreenot Enough Dilip Chenoy

Managing Director, National Skill Development Corporation What does NSDC do?


NSDC is a Private Public Partnership that was set up to foster private sector investment in skill development. We devise strategies and provide funds to encourage the private sector to boost training and skilling. We have helped the industry in coming up with a demand list of the skill set and competency factors that they seek. We also assist the industry as far as the framework, curriculum and accreditation is concerned. Industry-led projections and our estimate show that if we can encourage 500 industry people (maximum) to train people we can address the whole problem of the skill gap. There are different sets of people who benefit from us— those who are barely literate, those who have a school degree, those who are graduates and then the postgraduates. The main aspect is that people may have a degree, but they may still be unemployable. Our mandate is simple. It’s to train 150 million Indian citizens by 2022. We estimate that the industry will require 240 million people.

Why do you think that the employability problem exists in India?


EDUTECH  October 2010

Look at the university system per say. It is a seat for learning. Their job especially in India is still not to train people— they just get the students ready for a further degree. NASSCOM figures state that one in four graduates in India are still unemployable. A lot of people believe that getting a degree is the prerequisite to getting a job, but a BCom or an arts degree alone cannot get one a job. Employers seek communication and computer skills. Also, when we compare to China, India has 12 million graduates, while China has 24 million. Some 60 percent of the manufacturing personnel in India only possess a sort of higher secondary education degree. Formally skilled people comprise only 2 percent of the workforce. While some 8 percent of the workforce consists of informally skilled people.

Does the industry participate enough? We cannot just pin the blame on the industry alone because if we take individual cases, the industry might not have any say in this. Let’s take the engineering or medical degrees—the industry has no say in the matter. Similarly, BA and BCom degrees do not encourage industry meddling.

semester,” says Nitin Mudalgikar, chief administrative officer of the Trust. The Group also sends its faculty for periodic training with the industry and regularly reviews the teaching-learning process for better delivery of each programme. Apart from core subjects, its students are also given 50 hours of training in additional skills like time management, project management, interview techniques, resume writing, business communication, writing and listening, English language and paper presentation. “This increases our students’ confidence levels and ability to express their knowledge better,” says Mudalgikar. Some HEIs like NIIT University and Amity have also designed and fine tuned their courses, keeping in view the industry requirements. “The Industry Advisory Board of our University comprising leading industry professionals is involved in the curriculum design. Thus, the curriculum incorporates state-of-the-art technology in various courses and students are exposed to industry best practices. Thus, our students will be fully industry-ready when they graduate,” says Dr Parimal Mandke, Registrar, NIIT University. To give their students a competitive edge, some HEIs regularly organise conferences, discussion forums, guest-lectures and Mentor–Student meets, where their students get insights about the latest trends in the industry and what is expected of them. For instance, Amity students have got to interact with Global management gurus like Steven Kovey, Philip Kotler and Jack Trout among others. “All these measures ensure that Amity students are industry ready and are employable even before they step outside our portals,” says Dr Shukla. At participative seminars, students learn to articulate their views and defend those. It also

gets them to reason through issues, which develops their analytical skills. To enhance students’ interest in domain skills, COEP inculcates pride in the engineering profession, by showcasing great achievers and engineering marvels. “We must start engaging our students right from the first year, rather than employ a finishing school approach. That will give them a headstart,” says Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, director, COEP. A few HEIs like the IITs and Manipal are also involved in improving the skill sets of students and faculty in other HEIs, especially the tier- 2 and tier- 3 colleges. “We conduct training /faculty development programmes in most of the disciplines offered by the University for the faculty of institutions from all over India, which in turn improves the quality of their students’ inputs,” says Dr Ballal.

Government Initiatives Government is also gearing up to increasingly involve industry in the learning process at HEIs. “We have a sub-mission on skills development, which is assisting the State governments in creating 1000 new Polytechnics—300 in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Mode, 300 in the private mode and 400 in the public mode. In the Polytechnics set up in the PPP mode, the private partner is expected to bring in the industry experience. The pri-


Foundations: NASSCOM

NASSCOM, through involvement of its members, is facilitating the design of Foundation Skills Programme, for both the IT and BPO industries. The Foundation Skills programme for the BPO industry is called Global Business Foundation Skills and is being piloted this year in association with the Delhi University. This 120-hour programme, facilitated by NASSCOM along with six companies, will help students hone their basic skills and enhance their employability. A similar programme will be facilitated for IT and the Engineering industry. For both the programmes, Nasscom will facilitate Train-The-Trainer (TTT) programmes to develop a pool of trainers who can train students, as well as create a second layer of qualified personnel to create further modules and train faculty to conduct these programmes. Apart from this, NASSCOM offers national standard assessment programs for the BPO industry called NASSCOM Assessment of Competence and NASSCOM Assessment of Competence – Technology for the IT/ engineering industry. The assessments can be used to check training efficacy at the end of the Foundation Skills Programmes for the respective sectors. Students can also opt for the assessment, without undergoing the training programme, to check their employability levels.

vate ones would anyway be run by the industry people, who will automatically ensure that the students are trained in industry-relevant skills,” says NK Sinha, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD), Government of India. The Ministry is also trying to get a management committee instituted, which would be chaired by a person from the industry. “The idea is to encourage more and more integration of technical education with the industry,” says Sinha. Further, it has a plan to embed Polytechnics within engineering colleges to make technical education more cohesively linked to industry needs. The idea is to rewrite curricula in the Polytech-

At participative seminars, students learn to articulate their views and defend them. It also gets them to reason through issues, which develops their analytical skills

nics for specific skill needs, tailored for specific industry requirements. AICTE is already on the job. To be eligible for Phase Two of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme that the government has introduced with the World Bank funding, engineering colleges have to improve learning outcomes and employability of their graduates by modernising curricula and level of pedagogy to suit the industry requirement. Another government initiative in the pipeline is ‘National Vocational Qualification Framework’, wherein standards of the programmes, institutes and competencies required for each vocation will be laid down and the learning pathways for each defined. “This will enable a number of vocational institutes oriented towards specific set of skills come up and offer specialised programmes in tandem with what the industry requires,” says a senior official in MHRD. According to the official, making accreditation mandatory will help employers get clarity on where graduates of a particular institution stand and the additional skills’ training they would require. October 2010  EDUTECH


COVER STORY Strategy Not just at the centre, but the skills agenda has become a top priority even at the State government level. “We are following a two-fold method to enable our college and university students for the industry– revision of the core curriculum with the help of industry and academicians and short-term courses in soft skills like communication and employability skills specific to domains like IT, Banking, insurance, sales, computer literacy, tourism and hospitality,” says Dr. C. Bhanumathi, Director, Institute of Service Management, Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE). The state government body has already revised the curriculum of 26 subjects in the science and commerce streams and made it compulsory for all government colleges to have a multimedia lab for teaching communication in English. APSCHE also holds “career awareness and recruitment drives” at all universities and district headquarters, where industry officials are invited to talk about the opportunities and skillsets required in different domains. “The strike rate has gone up from three-four percent in 2006 to 8-9 percent this year at these job fairs,” says Dr Bhanumathi.

Right Course “Employability of our graduates would improve in the next 4 to 5 years, when the MHRD implements all the reforms it is planning–compulsory accreditation, making the curriculum more current, empowering HEIs with autonomy, enhancing the quality of faculty and research and there is far more academia-industry interaction,” says Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM. Industry leaders also feel the need for changing our archaic examination pattern of “questions and answers”, which is mostly based on memorising things/rote learning.


EDUTECH  October 2010

What the

Industry Wants

Here’s what industry leaders from some of the biggest employment generating sectors in India have to say about the skills they require and what they find lacking among students passing out of our universities: ENGINEERING SECTOR “Most graduate engineer trainee programmes in the engineering sector run for around a year, when the new recruits are given only light responsibility in terms of deliverables. It is only after a year that they actually start contributing productively. This is way too long” Sharad Gangal Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Thermax

IT—BPO SECTOR “There is no paucity of talent availability in India. Only an absence of right skills that suit the IT-ITES industry. Apart from technical knowledge relevant to the current industry needs; students also need to hone up on their communication, analytical and problem solving skills” Som Mittal President, NASSCOM

RETAIL INDUSTRY “We mainly require selling skills, customer skills, knowledge of the local language and domain knowledge of the concepts related to retail operations. Basic traits we look for are good communication and inter-personal skills” Sanjay Jog Chief People Officer, Future Group


“Candidates with relevant knowledge and specific skill sets in niche areas of automobile manufacturing like research and development, testing, computer aided engineering, paint technology and automation technology are in short supply” Prabir Jha Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Tata Motors

Strategy COVER STORY “If we follow the open book examination pattern that involves real life problem situations and make our students think, half the battle is won. This will enable our education system to generate people who can find innovative solutions to problems,” says Nashikkar. Some HEIs have begun incorporating communication and behavior skills into the course curriculum to give a fillip to their students’ employability. “The course curriculum should be redesigned, as and when required by the industry to make sure the redundant elements no more form a part of the curriculum and topical technology and relevant topics are incorporated,” says Dr Shukla.

Challenges Ahead Creating a spirit of intellectual enquiry among students and pedagogical methods for delivery of education in the HEIs, like in the developed nations, is the biggest challenge yet for enhancing employability, according to Dr Arun Nigavekar, former chairman of UGC. “For developing a student’s capacity to think critically and creatively and solve problems independently, you cannot treat skill development as an independent entity with no connection with core subject knowledge. A marriage of the two is necessary,” he said. That is why, despite holding e-Learning programmes in soft skills, interview techniques and computer literacy, some HEIs in smaller cities find it difficult to place their students due to total absence of relevant domain knowledge. “We have a huge number of students taking up subjects like Hindi and Philosophy, which find no relevance in the industry. While a few of them get into Indian Administrative Service or become lecturers, it is very difficult to find employment for the rest,” says Prof essor R.G. Harshe, Vice Chancellor


Finishing Touches To bridge the gap between graduates who struggle to find jobs because of the lack of adequate skills and companies that are unable to recruit well -qualified entry- level talent, a host of training and finishing schools are emerging across the country. These outfits usually cater to IT-BPO and banking, financial services and insurance sectors, though some like Indian Institute of Job Training also provide training in the area of retail, sales and marketing. These offer shortterm intense programmes aimed at equipping graduates with domain, technical and various soft skills including effective communication skills that will help them become productive in the workplace faster. These training schools follow a three-pronged approach: Be Practical: They help students put the theory they know into practice. For instance, Hyderabad-based TalentSprint follows a practical case study -driven approach and introduces students to tools they will be using in the workplace early on in the programme. They are encouraged to work on technical projects in groups as that is what is required in the workplace. Speak Up: Theses schools teach students professional work ethics and communicate better. TalenSprint uses discussions and role playing techniques to demonstrate standards of professional conduct and communication.

of Allahabad University. The entire initiative of skills building is critical to the success of our country and its economy, as employable human resources would be the key to retain our industries’ competitive advantages and growing stature. According to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India needs to build 700 million globally employable work-force, 200 million university graduates and 500 million vocationally skilled people by

Its students make presentations to the class on various conceptual and technical topics. They are trained to write specifications, hold discussions and present their point of view to peers, seniors and clients. Certifications: Some of these institutes also help students get international certifications like International Software Testing Board Certification for Testing Professionals and Sun Certified Java Programmer or Microsoft Certified Engineer for Software Engineering Professionals, to add that extra sheen. Since the courses are mostly offered in an interactive distance learning mode, it makes it possible to learn from expert faculty across the country. Apart from technical and domain, career skills training providers like IIJT Indian Institute of Job Training also train in soft skills like English skills, self-grooming, resume improvements and interview techniques. These finishing schools are becoming popular as most like Bengaluru-based PurpleLeap deliver professional skills enhancement programmes on college campuses. “Most colleges are open to these programmes as including skill development in the college routine is the first big step, especially including anything new in the curricula is a tricky issue given the number of approvals that might be required,”says Amit Bansal, CEO, PurpleLeap.

the year 2022, if it has to realise its potential to become a leading economy globally and be recognised as a centre of knowledge. This ambitious target can be achieved only if all the stakeholders—academia, industry, skills training companies and the government—work in a concerted fashion. Only then can we reap the benefits of our demographic advantage of being one of the youngest nations of the world and become the workforce of the world. October 2010  EDUTECH



Rahul Choudaha

Moments When Scope Meets Excellence


nly a handful of Indian institutions such as Manipal and SP Jain have taken the leap into internationalisation by starting foreign campuses. Few others (say Indian School of Business) have integrated internationalisation on-campus by collaborating with overseas institutions. Public universities (University of Pune) have been wooing foreign students.

However, there are hardly any exemplars for what is considered “comprehensive” internationalisation. Though internationalisation is not relevant to all institutions, it becomes a competitive necessity for those aspiring to achieve international excellence or rankings. Consider the pace of growth of Indian higher education in the past five years. According to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the number of engineering and business schools has doubled to 3,000 and 2,000, respectively, in the past five years (2004-2005 and 2008-2009). This has resulted in a rise in competition (as far as students are concerned), both in terms of quantity (number of seats) and quality (related to prestige). In the pursuit of competitiveness, internationalisation is an important opportunity to rise a notch higher. And, it is effective as a “differentiator” for excellence.


EDUTECH  October 2010

Need For Internationalisation The process has several benefits. The presence of foreign students on campus significantly adds to the learning experience of all students. Some institutions have managed to forge short-term exchange programmes. But, most Indian institutions so far have struggled to recruit foreign students for a full programme. Foreign students provide an additional source of revenue. In India, regulatory bodies allow for 15 percent supernumerary seats for foreign students, of which 5 percent is earmarked for children of Indian workers in the Gulf. An institution is also free to decide the fee to be charged. A handful of Indian institutions are seeking to gain entry into global rankings. Global rankings are highly-sensitive to the concept of comprehensive internationalisation. For example, according to the Financial Times ranking, ISB, Hyderabad, ranks 12 in the world. And, it attributes 25 percent to diversity and international measures. Internationalisation of an institute is not a choice. Rather, it’s an emerging need, a competitive compulsion for institutions that are in the race for quality and excellence.

A Question Of Complexity However, internationalisation has its challenges. It’s an expensive process with controllable and uncon-

Rahul Choudaha

trollable risks. Imagine the investments required to build a brand and to communicate the purpose of the brand to foreign students. Add to that, expenditures involved in travel to different markets to create aspirational value and that “oomph-factor”. Even after making these investments, pay-offs take time. At another level, gaining the confidence of reputed international universities for collaborations is an intensive concept-selling process that involves inspiring confidence in terms of professionalism, culture and results. Signing MoUs for international collaborations is only half the story. The bigger challenge is the successful execution of programmes—in terms of well-defined goals. Charles Klasek noted, “It’s not difficult to sign an agreement with universities of all types throughout the world; it’s difficult to implement agreements, so that there are mutual academic benefits for institutions involved.”

Comprehensive Internationalisation To address needs and challenges of internationalisation, institutions should systematically



l Forge sustainable and innovative collaborations: Internationalisation is inherently collaborative in nature. Innovative and sustainable collaboration should not be limited only to educational institutions. It should extend to a wider domain of communities and industry. For example, alliance organisations like AISEC or NetImpact could enrich the placement and learning potential of students. l Take a talent perspective: Top talent which has the potential to achieve global excellence is the core for achieving success with international ambitions. This includes building an ecosystem to attract talented students, faculty and administrators from global markets. For example, foreign students from developed economies have certain expectations from students’ services and safety, which can make or break the global positioning of an institute. l Develop thought leadership: Education is a knowledge business and achieving global recognition requires building thought leadership. Institutions need to integrate and reward excellence in knowledge creation and dissemination.

nce goals and time lines are defined, institutional processes and resources should be aligned to emphasise internationalisation

invest in comprehensive internationalisation— so that all resources are optimally utilised. Here are a few suggestions: l Develop an internationalisation plan: A comprehensive plan is an absolute must for any institution seriously thinking of investing into internationalisation. Richard Levin, President, Yale University, while formulating the “The Internationalisation of Yale: 2005-2008” noted, “…We set forth a framework to help explain and guide our institutional thinking for the next few years.” l Align processes and resources: Once goals and time lines are defined, institutional processes and resources should be aligned to emphasise comprehensive internationalisation. An office of internationalisation should lead efforts of implementing and integrating efforts related to global initiatives including launching new programmes and working on accreditation and other ranking processes.

For example, a publication in a refereed journal by a faculty should be rewarded and leveraged for institutional visibility. Comprehensive internationalisation is an opportunity to create long-term differentiation and value-addition. Madeleine Green rightly notes, “Comprehensive internationalisation is no less than an institutional transformation….[It] occurs when internationalisation is both deep and broad. It results from multiple interrelated changes—one programme or policy change produces a cascading series of other changes.” I hope many more institutions pursue a transformational approach and engage with comprehensive internationalisation.

Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

Rahul Choudaha A higher education specialist based out of New York, Dr Choudaha specialises in strategic management of higher education, institution building, academic leadership, collaborations and market development. He has a PhD in higher education from the University of Denver, MBA from NITIE, Mumbai, and BE from Jabalpur University. He can be reached at rahul.choudaha@eduleaders.com

October 2010  EDUTECH



B-school Management

Measuring effectiveness of management education in B-school. Carving out a niche, creating competitive advantage BY R. GOPAL


EDUTECH  October 2010




he need to satisfy customers in any commercial enterprise is obvious, more so in today’s context. One doubts whether there is any need to establish the importance of creating a “Customer Centric-ness Organisation”. Well, there is. Customers’ satisfaction is true not only for any organisation, but also for the provider of management education—the business school (B-school). Management education in India is offered in the following categories of institutions: n Institutions of national importance n University departments n Colleges affiliated to universities n Non-university autonomous institutions n Distance or correspondence-based institutions n Unaffiliated institutions. The growth of MBA and postgraduate diploma in management (PGDM) has been largely triggered by the growth of the corporate sector and industrialisation in India. The increase in demand for professional managers in the country, has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of B-schools. According to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) Annual Reports, there were nine B-schools in 1958, 58 B-schools in 1978, 87 in 1988, 744 in 2000, 847 in 2002, and 1,600 in 2008. AICTE and its Board of Management Studies currently offer offer 100,000 seats for postgraduate students. In addition to AICTE-approved institutions, there are a large number of foreign universities (40) that offer management education in India, either independently or as joint ventures with Indian business schools. “Management Education Worldwide” is a 20th century phenomenon, focusing on business administration. At the end of the 20th century, management education also included the management of government, public systems, management of agriculture and management of education system, among others. The purpose of management education since the beginning of the 20th century has been to enable organisations to apply knowledge and thus improve efficiency and effectiveness. Framework of management education in India is primarily based on the American and European business models. These models prove to be inadequate in the Indian context. Requirements of business managers and their expectations from B-schools are also changing substantially, and quickly. A good management education should not only help potential business managers to achieve short-term results, but also help in achieving long-term goals. With the rapid growth in the number of B-schools in India, the question today is—is it possible to measure the effectiveness of a B-school? Today, in India, there are organisations that claim to measure the performance

of a B-school and rank them. The ranking varies from organisation to another. Organisations that claim to make these rankings, do not visit the schools to gauge performances. In many cases, no discussions (written or oral) are held with stakeholders viz. students, (who are the customers), management, society, parents or, the ultimate users of the products of the B-schools—corporates and the industry. The Centre-promoted body— National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)—has developed an elaborate, complicated and substantially-detailed process of measuring and ranking colleges or universities, etc. This yardstick is applicable to all colleges and universities, and is not specific to B-schools. The defined research objective of this article is to develop a framework for the measurement of the performance of a B-school. And, suggest ways and means to improve performance.

Research Methodology


he methodology used for this article was exploratory research. Discussions were held with more than: n 100 directors of B-schools in Mumbai and Pune n 30 management personnel (primarily owners or trustees) of B-schools n 300 students from B-schools n 30 parents n 20 citizens of India

MANAGE THIS ACCORDING TO an annual report released by the All India Council for Technical Education, the number of management schools in India rose from nine in 1978, to 1,600 in 2008 INDIAN management schools offer over 100,000 seats to students across the country October 2010  EDUTECH



B-school Management

THE BIZ BUZZ Discussions revealed that: 1 For any B-school to survive, there is a need for students. Each student has certain aims and ambitions measured in terms of placements—salary, job satisfaction and knowledge gains. 2 These aims and ambitions mean that the B-school will have to measure performance against some parameters, which are controlled. Such as: Human Resource: Measured in terms of quality or quantity of faculty, both in terms of educational qualifications, and quality of lectures delivered. Non-teaching resources (e.g. administrative office staff). Today, there is no dearth of faculty available. Students often feel that what is required is not people with communication abilities, but teachers who add value to an institute by correlating industry practices and conceptual thinking. Infrastructure: Measured in terms of adequate number of classrooms fitted with overhead projectors, LCDs, computers, computer labs with 24-hour internet, libraries with access to Indian and foreign journals. Work Environment: Creating or simulating an office-like environment which is friendly and motivating. Product Offering: Measured in terms of specialised courses, or modification of existing courses and syllabi, so as to make them compatible with the industry needs. 3 In addition to the above measures, softer measures may be based on the following areas: Faculty should focus not only on the concepts of functional subjects, but also on applications. Importantly, one


EDUTECH  October 2010

is looking at the ‘sharing’ of experiences, especially application of concepts in real-life situations. Case studies related to Indian or Asian companies are more appropriate. It’s common to see faculty lift articles and cases from Harvard Business Reviews and then discuss them. These articles have a western orientation and several times, students feel detached from the example that is being given. Live projects incorporating interaction with the industry is another way to get students’ attention. Guest lectures or industrial interactions, at a functional and corporate level, also grabs eyeballs. Visits to medium and large-scale industrial organisations, with an objective of understanding their functioning, should be encouraged in the syllabus. Study of foreign languages should be made mandatory. 4 Areas where B-schools have to concentrate are: Team building, sharing of insights Genuine tolerance for idiosyncrasies of colleagues and faculty Intrapreneurship, entrepreneur skills Counselling and mentoring of students 5 Students will be satisfied, if the following facilities are also available: Strong placement cell that ensures 100 percent placements, headed by a dynamic placement coordinator Open and transparent admission process An examination system that is open and free from malpractices Communication systems that cater not only to them, but also to the society at large

50 members of the corporate world ( e s p e c i a l l y, m e m b e r s o f t h e H R department) Even B-schools can hold such research. Remember its not enough to gauge expectations alone, they have to be monitored, measured and improved. Student feedback system—based on adequacy and quality of resource products, infrastructure and faculty—is the key. There should also be a “faculty feedback system”. And, corporate or alumni feedback, based on the question of quality and adequacy of students and their knowledge. Feedbacks can be taken through a five-scale questionnaire. Parameters on which student feedback can be taken may be: Classroom facilities—seating and lighting arrangements, audio systems, or overhead projects, etc. General cleanliness—hygiene of toilets, floors and classrooms, among others. Support Systems—canteen, quality of food and overall hygiene. Library—seating arrangement, system for retrieval of books, system for availing books and adequacy (availability) of books at all times. Similarly, for the faculty feedback, following parameters can be looked at (again, on a five-point scale): n Whether the member of the faculty provides conceptual background n Application knowledge n Encourages class discussions n Is accessible to students n Is open and transparent n Sticks to schedules and session plans n Is punctual It’s also important to take feedback from the alumni and corporates on the quality of the B-schools. These parties are likely to gauge a school based on: n Students’ knowledge base and depth n Application knowledge n Attitude of a student n Ability and capability of a student It’s cardinal for stakeholders to know how important these parameters are to students. And that can be measured on a five-point scale (1=very important, to 5=least important). Additionally, B-school management must compare themselves with the others —both locally and globally. n

B-school Management

The following are some of the parameters based on which a B-school may be ranked, and what may help it understand its USP. However, USPs have a meaning only when they are perceived as having some ‘value’—by the students. Thus, a student’s selection is often like this—see graph right.





B-School 1



Decision in favour of B-School 1 only when


Recommendations From a student’s point of view, the key issues involved are always: a. Whether a school brings leading corporates to campuses b. How effective is the alumni network c. How relevant is the curriculum d. Whether the faculty is indeed strong e. Whether the pedagogy is modern f. How strong is the overall brand g. How strong is the infrastructure Discussions with students indicate that among all the above-mentioned issues, placement is the key one. Certain other issues that also play an important role, are the kind of hostel facility, infrastructure and locational advantages.




These metrics can be then measured and plotted. Features where one institution are better than competing B-schools then automatically becomes the USP of that institution. And, that point or feature may be then highlighted in the communication or prospectus. Features that turn out to be the weakest links, calls for introspection and corrective action. B-schools, in order to survive, will have to gear themselves up by continuously monitoring, measuring and deciding on priority action plans.



> (USP)2


In order to attract a bevy of bright minds, B-schools must interact with the ultimate users of their products (students)—the corporates. Schools need to upgrade themselves to suit the ever-changing corporate needs. This would mean a constant revision of the syllabi and devising specialised courses to suit the needs of an everchanging industry. It would be wise to offer new-age MBAs—lets say, in phar-


ma industry, biotechnology, or a management degree in business process outsourcing or knowledge outsourcing, or an MBA in hospital management. B-schools need to inculcate leadership qualities, analytical capabilities and adaptability within their customers. Key mantras today are leadership and adaptability—which encompasses capabilities to lead people and adapt to dire situations, think out-of-the-box, and move from a strategic thinking platform to a ground-level implementation platform (flexibility). Management schools, therefore, have to think of ways and means to inculcate requirements of corporates into students through various methodologies—simulation techniques: One such example would be of a management school in Navi Mumbai that asked students to manufacture or buy and then sell items to random customers on streets of Navi Mumbai. The boundary condition was the availability of resource—not more than Rs 500 per student or group (of students). The exercise was to help students gain valuable insights into the art of negotiation and selling. Key learnings were then discussed and analysed.

4 5 6

October 2010  EDUTECH



B-school Management


Encouraging industry people to participate in the classroom is another successful way of creating a corporate culture in a class. Frequent interaction with alumni, through meets, dinners and gettogethers, help students get a grip on basic fundamentals—logical thinking, communication and networking. Through an alumni network, students become better-equipped to understand the fact that apart from the profit bottomline, aspects such as corporate governance, economic, social and environmental dimensions also play a major role in the corporate decision making. A key issue, from the B-school perspective, is the availability of strong faculty. The problem of faculty has become acute in India. A reason for this is that increasingly a number of specialisations are being offered, without the specialists to teach them. The number of approved B-schools (whether AICTE or UGC-approved) is estimated to be more than 2,000. This rise has resulted in an acute shortage of faculty. The present generation of students is less inclined to join



academics. And the reason is often an economic one. Remember that the starting salary for an academic is between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 a month. The starting salary for even an above-average B -school student is more than Rs 4,00,000 a month. Many management schools are now trying to overcome this vacancy problem by offering research, consultancy and training possibilities—thus, offering salary incentives that add to the overall sum. However, there is a problem in this as well—faculty members may not be inclined to get into research activities at all. The problem gets aggravated further when one considers schools located outside the metros. Attracting quality faculty in those areas is a headache. Net effect is that B-schools, in order to satisfy AICTE or UGC norms, recruit mediocre teachers. Holding regular faculty development programmes and making the faculty then train the GenY is often the way to make the best use of the situation. The use of research methodology, statistical packages such as SPSS,



From this analysis, B-schools, in order to survive, will have to gear themselves up by continuously monitoring, measuring and deciding on priority action plans



Placement Assistance record Guest lectures

Good library R&D facility MDP programme




‘NON CRITICAL’ Areas Availability of air conditioned rooms Canteen


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12 13 14



‘INCONSEQUENTIAL’ Areas HBR reviews and discussion on issues Academic qualifications of faculty members Hostels


research papers and forums are also ways to encourage a professor or a teacher to strive for improvement. But, to do this, the (teaching) load on the faculty needs to be reduced. Through these programs, an institute may hope to enhance the quality of the faculty. Making the atmosphere conducive to work through empowerment of the faculty, decentralisation of the decision-making process (through formation of committees), are some of the techniques that are also used to retain faculty. Technology is another key issue, as far as management institutes are concerned. Technology enables students to be better-informed and exposed to a global market place. Thus, schools need to provide the GenY, an opportunity to make use of the technology. In order to survive in a fiercely competitive world, the mantra is to excel, or perish. Strategies need to be developed to ensure a high-level of eye ball contact in the corporate world—perhaps through proper communication and not necessarily advertisements. There is an urgent need for good quality faculty and to retain the same. Strategies such as providing opportunities for research paper publications, faculty development programmes, and organising management development programmes, need to be “tailormade” if a B-school wishes to retain its faculty for a period of time. Additionally, devising new syllabus—offering specialised courses such as MBA in BPO or KPO management, hospital management or in bioinformatics—goes a long way in ensuring a school’s survival. The analysis reveals that each management school needs to carve out a niche for itself. And then it needs to develop sustainable competitive advantage for its survival.

Dr R. Gopal is Director, Dean and Head of the Department of the Padmashree Dr D. Y. Patil University, Department of Business Management


Does India Need A Clearinghouse?


he Indian higher education sector has been seeing a lot of activity of late. Promises of higher salaries, opportunity to be a “Global Indian”, lifetime of benefits, stability, security, and more luxury along with socio-economic status; these incentives have been driving students to opt for better higher education opportunities. With 16,885 colleges providing higher education courses to about 10 million students, India boasts of one of the largest higher education (HE) systems in the world. In a nation where scale is so massive, management and tracking relevant information is a tedious task for stakeholders— higher education institutions (HEIs), employers and banks.

About The Business Of Loans To boost HE in India, one of the reforms brought in was in the area of education loans. With easier availability of funds, students began to turn to banks for assistance. In 2009 alone, almost 70 billion was disbursed by banks and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) in the form of loans. This, however, opened up the issue of efficient recollection and recovery of loans. Between 2009 and 2010, a leading Indian private bank saw some 22.8 billion being disbursed from the previous amount of 29.47 billion, amounting to an “year on year” (YoY) growth of 29 percent. At the same time, the amount of non-performing assets increased at an unprecedented rate—from 613 million to 1.13 billion (YoY growth of 85 percent). In the past couple of years, the growth has been a challenge faced by banks that operate in this space. Higher NPA on student loans


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Bharat Parmar(top) is a founding partner at Eduvisors, a leading research and consulting firm focused on the education sector. Eduvisors advises clients in implementing varsity projects and assisting foreign universities and education businesses enter India. Abhinav I is a part of Eduvisors

is partly a result of economic recession. Its adverse impact on the job market, reduces a student’s capability to pay off. Also, a chunk of students don’t update lending institutions about repayment ability (employed or otherwise), thus converting the process of tracking the borrower, into a task. Presently, banks update information about a borrower’s enrolment status and employment details by contacting institutions or parents.

Employers’ Verification; A Tedious Task Enrolment and degree verification is a part of the induction process for employers. With a rise in numbers of degree and certificate scams, employers now emphasise more on an employee’s degree. Employers manually collect this data (validity of the certificate) either from the student herself, or an institution. This is performed either by a team within the organisation, or is outsourced to agencies that offer background screening services. Often, such activi-

Bharat Parmar & Abhinav I

ties are time consuming or results are unsatisfactory. Reasons for unsatisfactory results are multiple—lack of willingness to share information, outdated databases, no mechanism to validate the data collected, etc. A majority of screening agencies resort to informal ways of procuring information. When the background check is performed in-house, or when it is outsourced, cost and effort involved gets high. This makes HEI participation, in providing enrolment and degree verifications, imperative. In the current scenario, HEIs provide validation of data to employers or potential employers and banks, with help of administrative staff—a process that involves a lot of paperwork, administrative hassles and waste of resource (money, time). Also, this process becomes confusing, burdensome and expensive, as it is fragmented among institutions, lenders and employers.

Taking The Clearinghouse Path These factors highlight the need for a “student clearinghouse”—a centralised agency that acts as a data repository. Such an agency collects, stores, and disseminates information as and when required. Due to the nature of the data involved, a clearinghouse is ideally supported (directly or not) by a government agency that has a buy-in from all HEIs. An organisation such as “Association of Indian Universities” is ideally positioned to drive a clearinghouse platform.

US National Student Clearinghouse National Student Clearinghouse is a non-profit organisation that provides verification reporting, secure data transfer and database management solutions to US HEIs. It enables institutions to minimise their administrative burden and hassles by collecting information on a continuous basis and disseminating them to loan-holders, employers and student-service providers. Under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (that protects privacy of student education records), some 3,500 schools subscribe to their services. Loan-holders and employers need to interact with a single body to track and respond to student’s enrolment and degree status. By designating the clearinghouse as a service provider, US Department of Education, and educational institutions outsource the task of collating, updating, maintaining and transferring data

STRAIGHT FACTS: Student Clearinghouse is a centralised repository that collects, stores and disseminates information regarding students to interested parties


to the clearinghouse. A college is expected to enter data on an online platform once in every 30-45 days. With the following services, the clearinghouse cumulatively helps institutions save more than a $100 million annually: n Verification Services: The clearinghouse provides automated enrolment verification and deferment reporting services for students, who have taken aid from lending institutions. This enables lending agencies and guarantors to keep tab on the student’s status. This in turn decreases the default rates. n Tracking Services: A clearinghouse maintains comprehensive records database, which is made available (as allowed by FERPA and subject to conditions set by the institution that has provided data) to colleges for educational research and analysis. For example, this data enables a college to understand choices made by their prospective students and provides it an insight into the competition matrix. It also provides factual information, on the basis of which they can devise strategies to target, attract, select and retain students. Tracking services are provided for high schools that can gauge the success of students in college education. n Transcript Ordering and Exchange: A transcript is a detailed record that mentions the courses taken and grades earned by a student. Often, students who have moved to other institutions or have passed out require such transcripts. Though a small number of US colleges enable online transcript handling facility, a majority use paper transcripts, increasing expenses and wasting manual resources. Electronic transcript exchange between high schools, colleges, and organisations speeds up the process. It also provides status updates of October 2010  EDUTECH



Bharat Parmar & Abhinav I

the exchange process. Students and alumni can order for transcripts at any hour of the day.

The Revenue Model An interesting aspect of the process is the revenue model that clearinghouses follow. Being a nonprofit organisation, the Student Clearinghouse provides almost all services for free, or at subsidised rates to educational institutions. Costs that they incur are compensated by funds provided by guarantors, lending agencies and servicers. Institutions that are not a part of the National Student Clearinghouse Programme are required to go through and edit each and every Student Status Confirmation Report. It is a comprehensive report of students who have availed financial aid. They are also expected to report all discrepancies. These are then compared with the government borrowers’ records every academic term. This means responding to volumes of paperbased requests for lender status and deferment. In case of a dropout, an institution has to report the same to the appropriate holder, the identification of which is a tedious task for the school. Also, there is no fixed standard communication process or format. Each stakeholder has a different formatting and reporting procedure, which makes it cumbersome. Also, lack of a fixed channel of communication, results in duplicate information being transferred, making it difficult to sort out the most updated status of a borrower. An agency like the Student Clearinghouse pro-


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Largest portfolio in the US loan market is the education loans. The overall exposure to outstanding education loans in India, is $ 5 billion, as compared to $700 billion in the US








vides clear benefits of eliminating administrative hassles and freeing resources, increasing reporting and record-keeping efficiency, and speeding up execution of a task. It creates a transparent system, with almost no chance of fraudulent claims. Institutions, on their part, don’t have to develop an online platform. With the Eleventh Year Plan targeting to raise the Gross Enrolment Ratio for higher education to 15 percent (24 million), the Indian HEI space is going to expand more. That means more loans will be disbursed. There will be volumes of employment and enrolment data that would need to be sorted. In the US, students’ loans constitute the third-largest portfolio, while in India it is much smaller. The overall exposure to outstanding education loans in India stands at $5 billion, as compared to $700 billion in the US. However, this sector is slowly picking up in our country, evident by the entry of specialised education loan providers such as Credila (HDFC-backed NBFC) in the Indian market. There is a need to establish systems and processes that will help digitise, centralise and channelise information in a systematic manner from HEIs to the right stakeholders. It will help in easy management of information for educational institutions and employers, reduce delinquency rates for banks and help set right the foundation for a transparent and efficient system. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters


Dheeraj Sanghi

Research Boost in Indian Universities


Experts are unanimous—we need more money. Research faculty needs to be paid more than the salaries that Sixth Pay Commission has asked for. After all, the competition for research manpower is global. Government should fund IITs and universities liberally to improve research infrastructure. And, budget for government agencies that fund research projects in academic institutions, should be increased substantially.

students and faculty members are in affiliated colleges, which are not allowed to set a fee structure. The Centre sets fees at such a level that even paying for running expenses is a challenge. When an appropriate amount is charged, it’s brought down by the government. Project funding is a stronger way to support research. However, the way central agencies fund research does not cover a significant part of expense. Project funding usually supports purchase of equipment used for a project, staff salaries directly hired for a project, travel and contingency expenses. Normal funding does not allow salaries to be paid to permanent employees of a university (faculty) who may be spending a significant part of their time on a project. They don’t pay rental for the space used by equipment and staff. They don’t pay for the infrastructure such as the computer centre, internet, library and journal access and electricity.

The Real Problem

Varsity Blues

While money is important, to improve research, one needs to ensure that all stakeholders are properly incentivised to work towards a common goal. A faculty member must have incentives to do research. And, institutes must have incentives to encourage faculty to do research. India encourages neither. Consider an institution’s motivation for research—reputation and brand building. Unfortunately, both cost money. Typically, there are two major sources of income for universities. One is from tuition, the other is direct funding from agencies such as Department of Science and Technology (DST). Increasing tuition to support research is not a realistic solution. Most

Look at the faculty cost. If a university is only interested in knowledge dissemination, it hires faculty to teach at least three courses per semester. On the other hand, if a university wants to encourage knowledge creation, then its asks its faculty to typically teach two courses per semester. So, the second type (of university) needs to hire at least 50 percent additional faculty. Faculty salaries are a significant part of any university budget

ndia’s worried. None of our higher education institutions are in the top 100 list of either Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s ranking of world universities, or in the Times Higher Education list. Whether we look at the number of PhDs produced, papers in journals with high-impact factors, or patents—in all metrics of research output—China has left us behind.


EDUTECH  October 2010

Dheeraj Sanghi

today. It’s only fair that universities expect a faculty to spend 1/3rd of his time on research, then 1/3rd of his salary comes from that source, apart from the undergraduate tuition.

Project Proposal Then there are the costs of preparing a project proposal. If a faculty is expected to spend time on research, either the university or the funding agency needs to provide her with initiation grants to start a laboratory. After all, the faculty member may have other research expenses such as travel expenses (to the field or to conferences). Most agencies do pay an overhead cost of the project budget. But, these are inadequate. DST pays 20 percent overhead. Others pay around 15 percent.

Erroneous Mathematics Funding agencies argue that institutes have built-in infrastructure funded by the government. They add that the overhead cost is only a small amount which covers the incremental expense of administering the project. Today, 90



Several agencies don’t fund proposals sent in by private institutions. Perhaps the “disinterestedness” stems from the fact that individuals involved in the decision-making process are afraid that they may be accused of “wrong doing” if a private institution is not able to show reasonable amounts of research output. Research fund policies have almost made sure that almost the entire non-government sector in higher education does only a limited amount of research.

Promotion Problems Within the government sector, what is the incentive for an individual faculty member to conduct research? If we look at the career of a member of faculty in an IIT, one goes through two rounds of promotions—from being an assistant professor to associate professor and from being an associate professor to professor. At the time of promotion, the selection committee does look at an individual’s research record. A strong record helps in promotion.

f India is serious about research, at the institution level, funding agencies must grant a greater amount of money as ‘overhead charges’

percent of higher education is conducted through private institutions. And most research projects supported by government agencies are an additional loss to these private players. Government agencies show that most research proposals come in from government institutions— that is perhaps true, because these projects are a “loss” for private institutions; most are unlikely to apply for several projects. Few government institutions that do apply for project grants have an incentive to cheat. If the project needs 10 personal computers, the budget is put as 20 personal computers. This kind of fudging is difficult for a private institution to pull, since their budget is screened carefully. Project monitoring is also strictly done, since the general perception is that private institutions are more likely to cheat. There is also a bias against private institutions when it comes to approving project proposals.

A teacher becomes a professor between ages of 40 and 45 years. For the next 20 to 25 years, there is no promotion or any other incentive to perform. Most people do need to be incentivised for better performance.

Speedy Solutions If India is indeed serious about research, solutions are obvious. At the institution level, funding agencies must grant a greater amount of money as “overhead charges”. They need to be flexible in terms of allowing payment to permanent employees from project funds. To encourage an individual, there should be a component of salary hike linked to performance. Sixth Pay Commission has already allowed the institutions to set up such a scheme—more such incentives should follow. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

Dheeraj Sanghi Dr Sanghi is the former director of Laxmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. He is a professor of computer science at IIT, Kanpur. Dr Sanghi has a BTech in computer science from IIT Kanpur and an MS and a PhD from University of Maryland, USA . He can be reached at dheeraj. sanghi@edu-leaders.com

October 2010  EDUTECH


Retooling Indian

Technical Education What will it take to re-engineer an outdated science and technology education system in India?



EDUTECH  October 2010

Technical Education


t is a debate that is endless, as it is polarised–are Indians doing enough for their science and technical education graduates? The argument is that Indian technical institutes suffocate creativity, instead of germinating it. Improving a nation’s higher education system, whether in science, engineering or technology, is correlated to its economic health and social development. India seems to have fallen behind other more developed nations in both respects. A reason could be an outdated and unplanned education system, driven more by fiscal motives than addressing a nation’s needs. That India is yet to witness appreciable improvement in sectors such as food, shelter and preserving the environment, suggests that our (technical) professionals are woefully out of depth. Usually, the blame for this incompetence trickles down to Indian politics and government. University administrators deflect responsibility for the quality of education to resource constraints. But, can only the government be held responsible?

Systematic Blame Game

EYE STOPPER THE GROSS ENROLMENT RATIO in secondary and tertiary education in India were 54 percent and 12 percent, respectively (2006) SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING enrolment ratio was about 20.3 percent. For science alone, it was 14.3 percent

India’s policies have been inspired from those of the “developed” nations. When development is slow, Indian policymakers bemoan the size, complexity and idiosyncrasies of Indian society. However, it has been observed that a nation’s goals, priorities, instruments for development, exhibit convergence with others (more developed) despite differences in history, culture, political contexts and timing of entry into the industrialisation process. India’s size and relative economic maturation predisposes her to be an influential player on the global stage, which complicates the task of the policymakers—how to remodel the nation’s institutions without severing links to the global

village; a tricky balance that China has managed to achieve. A holistic development plan, encompassing all economic and social rungs, is vital if the Indian experiment is to succeed.

Licence Raj, Afterwards Judicious application of scientific and engineering acumen—though rational—is challenging. More so, for India, owing to her predilection for incremental process innovation—a fondness that may be ascribed to innovation being industry-led. Not that process innovation is a flawed approach. But, it is past its sell-by date. Though part of the fault lies with central and state-funded agencies, the bulk of the blame must be borne by India’s professional bodies and university administrators. Administrators are particularly guilty of propagating tedious bureaucracy. Take this process for example: if a project required sophisticated equipment not manufactured in India, a researcher was first asked to apply to the Director General of Technical Development (DGTD) and provide documentation that proved that no Indian instrument-maker manufactured it, following which, a review of the case was initiated– October 2010  EDUTECH



Technical Education

the duration of which often exceeded the duration of a project! If the bureaucratic hurdle wasn’t enough, Indian technical professionals and researchers also face alarming skill deficiencies—attributable to the outdated curriculum in place at most Indian universities. The exodus of India’s best and brightest to the financial sector was also another blow to Indian innovation. An ill-equipped technical education system, unable to motivate students, led to a general lack of interest with professions which in turn deflated academicians’ enthusiasm to mend an outdated system.

Economic Engine The Indian Patents Act of 1970 was inordinately lenient and Indian companies soon realised that they could alter the manufacturing process of foreign corporations with little or no legal repercussions, thus producing these products at cheaper rates. Consequently, the attitude of Indian companies to research and development alarmingly regressed. This situation witnessed no change as such “copy cat” companies found a sizeable share of votaries who believed that India could ill-afford spending money on R&D while a majority of its population was distressed with meagre incomes and poor standards of living. This approach unwittingly killed the spirit of innovation. Faced with these facts, our excitement at India’s adoption of new intellectual property rights policies is understandable. It is hoped that these new mea-

sures will go a long way towards improving the Indian Patents Act.


119 researchers for every million, India has the lowest R&D ratio among BRIC nations

National policies are predominantly shaped by the availability (or lack) of technology and the uniform standards of living. Low levels of public dissidence in the developed world can be ascribed to the technological convergence of these nations. Once universities become economic institutions that drive progress, tasks facing government become significantly tractable. In such a situation, an overarching government aim is judicious allocation of resources for scientific research and extending support to organisations involved with commercialisation of potentially useful technologies. In the evolution of nations, a stage ultimately arises where at national policies are aligned to maximise the benefits of technology. For India to attain this position, it is imperative that the Centre reconstitutes India’s innovation systems. Indian politicians believe that the lack of access to technical education is the root cause of India’s ills. In response to this perception, the Centre recently embarked on a project to increase the number of IITs and establish more medical research centres. That these centres have been established in urban areas has yet to strike many. Wasn’t the lack of cen-


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tres imparting technical education to rural India one of the raisons d’être for these centres? Besides, establishing universities in rural India will not alleviate any problems. India’s ails do not stem from a lack of technically “qualified” professionals. It is the lack of quality of these professionals that afflicts the nation.

Tech Engineering Nearly all of India’s centres of learning are state-sponsored, and nearly all are modelled along the lines of European, notably British, universities. Consequently, dogmatic bureaucracy and conditions that stifle innovation have percolated into most of them, killing research. India is also home to a slew of engineering colleges that are administered by private trusts. One could define these colleges as poorly-managed corporations offering an inferior product that a customer is forced to buy because it is the only one in that market. It’s time to realise that IITs are only a small part of the technical education system; and that most successful IIT alumni honed their skills at American universities.

Numbers’ Game A quick glance at a recently-released federal budget leads one to assume that the “new institutions” would propagate the flaws of the older. These institutes threaten to siphon away federal funding from vital social institutions and services against which they directly compete. It could have undesirable ramifications on the standard of living. We simply can’t afford that! Another pertinent aspect is the concurrent expansion of the job market for engineers and scientists. An increase in the number of universities offering technical degrees, irrespective of the quality, will increase the number of job applicants. Though that’s desirable from an employer’s perspective, if the number of available jobs does not see a commensurate rise, India might find itself housing a great number of

Technical Education



ndia’s industries have a role to play, but it needs some degree of government help to proceed in the right direction. The industry should be given generous tax breaks to support faculty positions, either through endowments, or like regular employees. Private corporations could be encouraged to mentor universities to expand research repertoire to newer domains in order to foster knowledge creation without handing them any direct or indirect control of administration, or recruitment. Additionally, industries should be invited to participate in university-led research consortiums. With appropriately negotiated terms for intellectual property ownership and commercialisation of technologies emerging from such partnerships. Such arrangements could synergise research competencies of corporations, provide universities with funds to operate strong graduate programmes, hedge risks associated with exploratory research as well as accelerate technology conception and commercialisation. Attractive tax benefits for faculty and library endowments, scholarships and financial assistance by way of interest-free loans are some other avenues by which industries could assist in reshaping India’s destiny. The industry should be given tax breaks to support faculty, either through endowments or like regular employees. Corporations could be encouraged to mentor universities to expand research repertoire to newer domains. Additionally, industries should be invited to participate in university-led research consortium with negotiated terms for intellectual property ownership and commercialisation of technologies.

technical professionals performing nontechnical job functions. Such development not only reduces economic returns of a technical degree, it lowers the standard of living of technical professionals and negatively impacts accountability, consequently impairing the innovation capacity of the nation. Nearly all industrialised nations rank as some of the most educated societies in the world. The fundamental difference between industrialised western democracies and those nations that have only recently witnessed industrialisation is the difficulty of the curricula at the primary and secondary levels. In countries such as the US, the basic secondary school curricula provides students with essential analytical, interpersonal and trade skills. In stark contrast, most Indians do not have access to universal primary education. The gross secondary and terti enrolment ratios in 2006 were 54 percent and 12 percent, respectively. Of those enrolled

in tertiary programmes, science and engineering enrolment ratio was about 20.3 percent, whereas the enrolment ratio for science alone was 14.3 percent. With 119 researchers per million of the population, India has one of the lowest R&D density in the G8 and BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations.

India Competitive Some might find the citation of India’s R&D density (119 per million of population) and objection to the establishment of more institutions such as the IITs as paradoxical. However, it is felt that such an argument, though justified, is largely inadmissible to the Indian debate. A vastly different route is required to improve innovation in science and engineering and more funds should be allocated towards improving primary, secondary and vocational education in the nation and elevating the cognisance and civic sense of the populace (see complete article for details). As India rebuilds the


foundations of its education system, India’s universities must embark on a new resource—light approach to mend their declining education standards. Exactly how, is summarised in the following passage. A bulk of the blame for the current state of technical education rests on indecisiveness and myopia of the administration. Politicians, too, have a role to play. In America, universities are mostly private and autonomous. We believe it would be better to grade state-funded universities using yardsticks of excellence such as impact factors, citations, h-indices or similar metrics, and commensurately grant them greater autonomy to decide and possibly raise tuition fee. It is hoped that the national needbased scholarship programmes will adequately complement this hike. However, we do not recommend in toto privatisation, as it would not translate to better standards—India’s private engineering colleges are testament to this. Achieving privatisation without sacrificing academic standards or affordability is now a moot question. In lieu of our familiarity with the chemical engineering curricula and research programmes, suggestions presented here have been formulated using chemical engineering education as a demonstrative case. To the uninitiated, chemical engineering is arguably the most versatile of all engineering disciplines. It involves astute and ingenious application of basic scientific principles to achieve practical, socially-relevant outcomes. The chemical industry–a manifestation of chemical engineering practice – is one of the largest employers in the world (it contributes nearly $400 billion in goods and services to the American economy). After all, problems—food shortages, environmental destruction, lack of clean water—fall within the purview of chemical engineering. It is this broad range of interests that confuses formulators of the curricula. Not only do they have to remain “loyal to their roots”, they feel pressurised to accommodate courses in emerging fields (biotechnology, green chemistry October 2010  EDUTECH



Technical Education

and engineering, and nanotechnology), while ensuring that the programme is limited to four years. It is a tough task. Already, chemical engineering curricula include multiple courses in chemistry, biology and physics, mathematics, courses instructing students in the core competencies of the profession—transport phenomena, thermodynamics, reaction engineering, chemical synthesis and process engineering. Any more and students will be discouraged to enrol. However, biotechnology and nanotechnology will soon assume central roles in chemical applications. Failure to introduce students to these will be foolish. One course of action is to demarcate an imminently gauche curriculum into separate disciplines, each focusing on a distinct sub-domain (e.g. demarcating chemical engineering into industrial engineering and biotechnology). This action, referred to as “over-specialisation”, though rational, could precipitate undesirable ramifications, especially in India. One problem that comes to mind is the underpreparedness of graduates to deal with the cyclical nature of an economy. What do petroleum engineers do when the oil markets become vagarious?

Redesigning Curricula US universities have addressed the problem of curriculum accommodation by reducing the core requirements to include few courses in chemistry, physics, biology, basic and applied mathematics, transport phenomena, thermodynamics and reaction engineering. The core course load has shrunk by as much as a quarter, if not more. Instead, a great degree of flexibility is built into the curriculum by offering electives instructed by a faculty whose research interests lie in that subject. Significantly, undergraduate research is included

650,000 engineers pass out from Indian tech hubs currently 40

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Research Competency

THE CENTRE MUST ENCOURAGE VARSITIES TO SIGN MOUS WITH AMERICAN CENTRES, TO AVAIL THEIR TEACHING RESOURCES as a recommended, if not mandatory, requirement and students are encouraged to work under a faculty. Some universities achieve the same goal by urging students to embark on mandatory internships in industry. This model necessitates the existence of active research programmes—absent in Indian universities. In India, programmes have attempted to replicate the American model. Owing to the absence of active research programmes, we have failed to achieve similar success. The fault lies in the administration’s mistaken prioritisation of restructuring the curriculum over development of effective research programmes.

Superannuation The Centre should think on unilaterally and uniformly extending, if not completely doing away, with retirement ages for qualified technical professionals. With so many vacancies in even the best institutes no matter what schemes are adopted to lure professionals to join academia, pays and perks given by industry will never be matched by academia. With the arrival of foreign universities, an exodus is on the cards. Retiring good professors would be greatly misguided in such a scenario. How will the talent remain in the state universities and why should they? If the Centre is going to reward only institutes under its umbrella, we will never achieve excellence.

With absence of proper planning, newly established IITs will only be detrimental to India. It would be better to identify performing institutes with a global standard and convert them into world-class universities. It is recommended that India expand her pool of qualified faculty and germinate reputed research groups prior to establishing new institutions. Barring a few exceptions, library collections at Indian universities are distressingly outdated. The government must encourage universities to sign MoUs with American and European universities, to specifically avail of their undergraduate teaching resources. It must enable international faculty to spend sabbaticals teaching and researching in India. International faculty must be invited to serve as expert consultants on curriculum design.

Role Of Industry India’s industries have a role to play. Despite industry-supported research being parochial in scope, they represent a significant source of funds for research. Without questioning the industries’ motives for supporting research at universities, there is more room for improvement. The Centre should implement favourable tax policies that sponsor research. Companies supporting research in domains beyond the realms of their market should be rewarded with sizeable tax reductions. Also, companies hiring undergraduates as summer interns should reap tax benefits. It’s time that co-op programmes with alternate trimesters in industry be introduced in institutes. The industry should be given tax breaks to support faculty, either through endowments or like regular employees. Corporations could be encouraged to mentor universities to expand research repertoire to newer domains. Vikramaditya G. Yadav is in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Ganapati D. Yadav is in the Institute of Chemical Technology. The above article comprises snippets of the paper written by the duo. To read the full article log on to edu-leaders.com.


Funnekotter & Allegro

Hi-T e Hi- T

& FACT FILE NAME Jaap P.F.M. Funnekotter CURRENT ROLE General Manager, Hotel School The Hague


POSITIONS HELD Member of the Board of Directors of The Leading Hotel Schools of the World


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T ech - Touch In their own words they are the ‘Laurel and Hardy’ of Hotel School The Hague. As Jaap P.F.M. Funnekotter, general manager, and Dr Sander M. Allegro, director of innovation, point out, the institution was born out of a need for a specialised centre for applied sciences. For the first time, EDU talks to not one but two administrators, to get an idea of what truly defines their school BY SMITA POLITE & ROHINI BANERJEE FACT FILE NAME Dr Sander M Allegro CURRENT ROLE Director of Innovation, HotelSchool The Hague POSITIONS HELD President, Dutch Association of Alumni of Higher Educational Institutes, Member, Board of the Amsterdam Hotel & Restaurant Association

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DIALOGUE Funnekotter & Allegro EDU: HotelSchool The Hague is one of the last independent single-sector varsities in applied sciences of Netherlands. What made the school survive, whereas others closed down? ALLEGRO: We had a very good start—we were founded by the people who needed us. Whereas our colleagues were founded by other parties, we were founded by a party to whom we cater—the hospitality industry. All through our institute’s life we have maintained contacts with the industry. And we are also strongly tied to our ‘customers’, which not only means the students and parents; but that our prime focus has been to deliver success stories to the industry, through successful students. This is our focus and the prime reason why we made it, when several other people did not. FUNNEKOTTER: In the past century, our government was urging smaller schools (like us), and universities of applied sciences, to merge. Our board of directors, at that time, understood that if we became a part of the larger universities with their myriad specialisations, we would lose our ‘identity’. Instead, the board decided to design and pursue a independent university of applied sciences, and that is how HotelSchool The Hague was formed.

What innovations in the curriculum does the school have that makes it unique among the rest of the same class? Funnekotter: I will let him answer this one,

because one of his designations also reads as the director of innovation. Allegro: (Laughs) Thank you! Look at our curriculum. In two ways, I hope, we can claim to be unique. The most important feature, according to us, is that we have chosen to instill a large part of practical application courses in our university theoretical degree. It is a university—there is a degree. In the first-year of the course itself, we encourage students to be a part of the industry. They get a university degree, at the same time they work in the field, they serve at restaurants, they clean restrooms, they serve people, to get a better idea of the ground reality. It is quintessential for our students—they need to know the ropes of what’s happening on the floor. Also, we have moved from being a teaching-oriented institute, to being a learning-oriented school. In the past 10 years we have learnt that knowledge is power. But, nowadays, this knowledge is also freely available via technology–so, now the focus is on what you do with it, how you process it and how you keep on developing yourself. That focus has been primarily a challenge for the teachers and teaching staff, who had to cope with the changing world, and new batches of students with their expectations. Funnekotter: What also sets us apart is the industry inputs that we incorporate in the curriculum. Since we were started by the industry, there is a strong co-relation between us and them. Say for instance, last year, board members of several hotels came and spoke with the students. They were talking to people who would perhaps be the future members of the industry. In our new curriculum, we consulted the major hotels and asked them what they were missing in our students. What they said, we used as valuable input to change the way the curriculum was focused.

You lay stress on entrepreneurial learning. What do you mean by it? Funnekotter: We have noticed in several schools that there is a tendency of making the professor a know-it-all, like a sage on stage. But real life doesn’t work like that. We have made the students responsible for his/her learning journey, the professor is the coach and not the know-it-all. We have brought down spoon feeding to the minimum. Entrepreneurial working is always with people.

“We have brought down spoon-feeding to the minimum”


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Funnekotter & Allegro DIALOGUE Thus, in class, too, students work in groups of four. They have a marketing and financial professor-cum-coach, who work with them on a project. Students can ask their guides, teachers and professors or go to the internet to do their project. At the end of the project period, they have to defend their position, or project. Sometimes, they do so in the presence of industry experts. If there is a slacker in the group, then handling that person is the group’s responsibility, just like in real life every person has to deal with personnel issues.

What, to you, is the most important ingredient in a hospitality management school? Funnekotter: I would say that start with a vision. Do not immediately go down to the technicality of the process. Ask what the situation outside is like. If you don’t understand how the world is changing—how consumer needs are getting redefined, how the business is changing—then you won’t know where you are going. Allegro: What I really find satisfying with our collaboration with the UEI here is that the institution really shares our vision. They are keen to learn how the industry is changing—both here and outside. It is a good and a balanced system.

What kind of partnership do you have with UEI Global? What does it involve? Funnekotter: It is a balanced and strong co-relation that we share. The UEI faculty went to Hague sometime in 2007 for a period of six weeks. They were there the entire day. Under our coach’s supervision, their faculty developed a new curriculum that was introduced after they came back. The UEI was so happy with the collaboration that they expressed the desire to establish a quality insurance mission. According to that a team of two, (and that would be us), come here for an assessment. We meet the students in absence of the faculty. We meet the faculty in absence of the management. And then we ask the management to present a self-assessment report that they present. We must make this clear that we are not the police; we are the guides. This assessment is more about the changes that have been brought into the system and how well it has been received —how we can improve it, if we can at all. Allegro: We undergo the same sort of assessment from our industry guides every two years. We send them a report where we suggest changes, and in our later visits we assess whether the changes worked, or how they were developed and implemented in the programme. At the end of it all we allow UEI to use our logo by contract. We are really fussy about who we give our logo to. We also do an annual audit, which is quite extensive—the UEI has won our trust, and thus, the logo is theirs.

If someone decided to set up a new institute what would you suggest to them? Funnekotter: First of all and this step one may never bypass–make sure that you have the support of the industry. If the industry doesn’t like you, or support you in some manner, then you have no reason to exist in the market. An institute receives some sort of credibility that pushes them through. To be very honest, in a country like India, there are always those adventureseekers, who run what Allegro and I call ‘Mickey Mouse schools’ which come and go. But those institutes that produce alumni that receive the industry’s blessings, are all set. At HotelSchool The Hague, our ambassadors are our students—look at our website, look at the videos. None of them are about the faculty, but about the

“If the industry doesn’t like you, you have no reason to exist” students who have been trained in the school and are now success stories.

What changes have you seen in the hospitality industry in the past 10 years? Funnekotter: When I went to school, and that must have been a 100 years ago (laughs), it was all about practical orientation. Customer satisfaction was the key, as it still is, but today there are terms such as business-orientation, broadbased orientation and revenue orientation. These terms came from the US and redefined the discipline a bit more. It made the discipline, a bit more focused.

What’s Online Find similar stories at edu-leaders.com Write your views, opinions about the stories, issues that you found interesting to the editor at editor@edu-leaders.com

October 2010  EDUTECH



Rishikesha T. Krishnan

Bringing Reality Into The Biz Classroom


hile research in the field of management is being pursued with increasing vigour, the practice of management remains a quintessentially practical activity. Basic building blocks of management, such as planning, organisation and execution, can be helped by theory—but, the practice of management resists being packaged into an “expert” system.

While an average business textbook in any area contains useful concepts, frameworks and models, managerial decision-making can’t escape uncertainties inherent to a constantly changing environment of business, ambiguities thrown up by human agents and lack of complete information. Managing in the “real world” is complex—with competition emanating from unexpected directions, “black swan” events posing threats to survival, and stakeholders demanding higher levels of accountability. A management curriculum that ignores these realities would be incomplete. How, then, do you bring these realities into the classroom?

The Case Method An approach to address this challenge could be the “case method”. Evangelised by Harvard Business School (HBS), this method is used in management education and few schools use it with the same fervour as they do. Case method seeks to


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follow Socratic method of discussion. A business case puts a case reader in the driving seat, allowing her to view specific managerial problems from the vantage point of a decision-maker. Information provided is designed to simulate uncertainty, complexity and information limitations of an actual situation. “Cracking” a case involves identifying the real problem, generating alternatives, using appropriate criteria to evaluate these and then proposing a course of action with execution and contingency plan. While the case method has advantages, it has limitations, too. Moderating a good case discussion requires a skilled facilitator in the classroom. A case discussion needs direction, but with a light touch. Without it, the discussion can deteriorate. Secondly, the quality of a case discussion depends on prior preparation by students. When that is lacking, the discussion can deteriorate into a superficial regurgitation of “case facts” rather than an in-depth analysis. The use of cases takes time and may not be a solid alternative when a number of issues have to be covered in a short time. There is also the danger that students see cases as a series of stories and fail to derive generalisable lessons from them.

Challenges This last limitation points to one of the major challenges in case teaching—how do you integrate the-

Rishikesha T. Krishnan

ory and practice? Classical proponents of this method believed that it promotes learning through an inductive process. By working through a variety of cases, students can distinguish patterns—and build their own theories. As management research becomes more sophisticated, faculty see cases as a way to complement, rather than replace, theories. As a result, a “case” is considered “effective”, if it is written with a particular conceptual frame. Another challenge of using case method is trying to balance contemporary quality with impact. Case teachers have favourites— cases that create a “wow” effect. While cases might age like wine for the teacher, the same is not true for a student. In a fast-changing world, you can’t blame a student for doubting the relevance of a case written two decades ago. Besides, the pace at which new cases are written, struggles to keep up with the requirements of teachers. This problem is accentuated by the fact that case writing is an art. And few business schools provide the support required for faculty to write cases regularly. So, a teacher is



A drawback of the raw case is from a teaching perspective. Students and teachers have to wade through volumes of material before entering a classroom. Practice courses allow students to work on real world problems in a real context. At Cornell’s Johnson School, students participate in the financial decision-making of a real hedge fund. At MIT’s Sloan School, students can access different labs—entrepreneurship, global and sustainability labs—to participate in organisation-sponsored projects. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School offers more than 900 experiential learning opportunities. While the power of practice courses can’t be disputed, they need substantial investment (resources and support) from corporate partners, if they are to be meaningful. The increasing power of the internet allows the possibility of using “multiuser games”, which can simulate the environment of competitive marketplaces. One popular simulation tool is Capstone. Such tools leave an impact on the corporate market as well, with leading companies choosing to

clever combination of traditional and raw cases, practice courses, and simulations allow MBA course complement biz methods

dependent on few sources such as HBS and Ivey School at University of Western Ontario. Case teaching in India poses a peculiar challenge. Our system relies on a one-way process of teacher lecturing students. This leads to an expectation of gyan from a teacher. The case method is a collaborative learning process. Students uncomfortable with this method often wonder what contribution the teacher is making to the learning process. Notwithstanding these challenges, the use of cases has been attracting new adherents.

Alternative Approaches The classroom is witnessing new initiatives. While traditional case studies come in a “structured” form (with organised information), an innovation now is a “raw case”. It provides links to company websites, videos and media stories, related to a particular issue. This raw case simulates the “messiness” of the real world better than traditional cases. Since the raw case can be updated easily, it’s relatively easy to keep it contemporary.

expose their managers to such simulations. Simulation tools have advantages over the case method in that, they explicitly involve rounds of play with environmental changes and the diverse responses of players. But they are relatively weak on internal organisational dynamics and impact of organisational structure and process on decision-making.

In Conclusion The good news is that—today, a student and a teacher have a variety of approaches to bring reality into the MBA classroom. A clever combination of traditional and raw cases, practice courses and simulations, allow business management curriculum to provide an invaluable complement to Philip Kotler and Michael Porter’s methods. Only the imagination and creativity of educators stand in the way of using these approaches more effectively. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/content/newsletters

Rishikesha T. Krishnan Dr Krishnan is a professor of corporate strategy at IIM Bangalore. He has an MSc in Physics from IIT Kanpur, MS in engineeringeconomic systems from Stanford University, and a PhD from IIM Ahmedabad. He can be reached at rishikesha.krishnan@eduleaders.com

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Global Focus Draws Students To Europe For Business Universities today say that they are training students to work in a global environment. Perhaps that is why, the world over, these varsities are witnessing a multicultural infusion of students, who are arriving from all across the planet BY KATHERINE MANGAN


lisabeth Garrett spent her childhood in Buenos Aires, and worked in New York before deciding to pursue a globally-oriented MBA. After considering programmes on both sides of the Atlantic, she enrolled at HEC Paris, a management school where she works alongside classmates from 50 countries. “American programmes, even when they declare themselves to be ‘very international’, don’t have the diversity of some of the European ones,” she says, adding that the setting, just outside Paris, didn’t hurt. “Everyone loves Paris. I’m not going to lie. It was a big attraction.” Garrett, 27, is a part of a small but growing number of Americans who are heading abroad to pursue a degree that was born in America, but has gained a foothold in other parts of the world. European business schools, in particular, are making headway in their efforts to recruit foreign students like Garrett by emphasising their multicultural strengths. Since most European MBA programmes can be completed in a year, in contrast to the typical two years for American ones, they also attract students who want to avoid paying an extra year of tuition. A study released in 2009 by the Graduate Management Admission Council confirmed that foreign applicants were increasingly looking outside the US, while applying for MBAs. The council, which administers the test that is required for entry to top graduate business schools worldwide, reported that


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the proportion of test scores these students were sending to US programmes had slid from 75 percent in 2000 to 42 percent in 2010. Students were probably discouraged by the stagnant US job market, as well as the tighter restrictions on work visas since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, management-education experts say. At the same time, students overseas are finding more options closer to home, as demands for MBAs in their home countries rises. Last year, for the first time, more than half of the tests administered by the council were taken by non-US citizens.

Sign up for a free weekly electronic newsletter from The Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter The Chronicle of Higher Education is a US-based company with a weekly newspaper and a website updated daily, at Global.Chronicle.com, that cover all aspects of university life. With over 90 writers, editors, and correspondents stationed around the globe,The Chronicle provides timely news and analysis of academic ideas, developments and trends.

Truly Multicultural Among the beneficiaries of the less-than-welcoming conditions in the US, was Essec Business School, one of France’s leading programmes and the first in Europe to be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International). “For the citizens of the world, I think the George W. Bush years were very painful,” says Pierre Tapie, dean and president of Essec. “But, as a selfish dean, I was happy to see how many people came here instead. The more the US was shutting the doors, the more the free world was going elsewhere.” That applied to international faculty members as well as students, he says. Despite American business schools’ extensive efforts to globalise their curricula, Tapie argues that European schools are better positioned to offer a truly multicultural experience. “We are more international, because our countries are smaller and English is not our mother tongue,” he says. “The diversity of Europe in a limited space interests people. If you are coming from Shanghai, or Moscow, or Mumbai, you can, in a five-hour drive, see five countries, hear five languages, and see 15 landscapes.” Most European MBAs require students to speak more than one language; new global MBA programmes at Essec require a minimum of three. INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, considered as one of the world’s top global MBA programmes, also has campuses in Singapore and Abu Dhabi. It offers an MBA programme that can be completed in 10 months. Students come from 83 countries, and 92 percent are from outside France. Valérie Gauthier, associate dean of the MBA programme at HEC Paris, explains the advantages that her school, located half-an-hour from Paris (near Versailles), offers students. Students typically work in groups to solve case studies. “A professor presents a case. He or she does not give a solution, until participants have shared their views based on experiences and cultures,” she says. “For instance, students learn in accounting that a balance-sheet analysis will be handled differently in Latin America and China.” “We want people from around the world, who have had international exposure already,” she adds. “It’s a question of survival. Arriving at HEC Paris, where you would be surrounded by people from 50 countries speaking dozens of languages would be hard if

you hadn’t spent time outside your country.” Ten years ago, most students of the programmes were French; today, only 20 percent are. The biggest chunk now comes from India and US.

More Cosmopolitan

While only a few European business schools have offered MBAs for decades, it’s only in the past 10 years that it has become a recognised standard in France, Gauthier says. “In 2002, when I started and told people, someone said, ‘Oh— you’ve switched to basketball’.” Garrett, an HEC student, admits that international students make up only about a third of the enrolments at some of the American programmes that she considered. “American programmes just seem more provincial,” she says. “You might touch on the local perspective, but here, every conversation brings in such a layer of cultural context, even if it’s the appropriate approach for women doing business in Japan or Latin America. Americans tend to want to rush in and get things done, but in Brazil, you might greet someone with a kiss and then chat a bit, before you get down to business.” The leaders of top US MBA programmes say they, too, are preparing students to work in a global economy. That often involves creating alliances with business schools overseas. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business offers student exchanges with several foreign schools, including HEC, Paris, Essec, and London Business School. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offers exchanges through its alliance with INSEAD. International students from 68 countries make up 36 percent of Wharton’s MBA enrolment, and nearly 40 percent of the faculty are international. Thomas S. Robertson, Dean of Wharton School, says his programme benefits from the strengthening of top European business schools. “The better those schools become, the better the exchanges we can set up for students and faculty,” says Robert-



THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE son, who was born in Scotland and has taught at London Business School. “We do everything conceivable to be an international business school.” Yet, between 2005 and 2009, the percentage of students enrolled in full-time MBA programmes in the United States, who came from outside the country, dropped to 25 percent from 29 percent, according to figures reported to the AACSB by 176 accredited schools. The actual number of students from the United States jumped 31 percent during that time, while the number of international students grew by a much smaller nine percent. Meanwhile, the drastic growth in the international makeup of top European MBA programmes has been accelerated by aggressive recruiting over the last decade. Madrid’s Instituto de Empresa Business School, known as IE, expanded its network of offices from Latin America and New

IN 2005 TO 2009, PERCENTAGE OF FOREIGN STUDENTS IN FULL-TIME US MBAS DROPPED TO 25% FROM 29%. PERCENTAGE OF US STUDENTS JUMPED TO 31% IN THAT PERIOD York to include Dubai, Los Angeles, Miami, Moscow, Mumbai, Seoul, Shanghai, and Tokyo. At IE, the percentage of students who come from outside Spain grew from 66 percent (2005) to 90 percent this fall, with the biggest growth coming from Asia. The number of countries represented in the 13-month programme jumped from 45 to 70, while the number of American students climbed from 25 in 2005 to 40 this year. “Over the past 10 to 15 years, we’ve grown tremendously in international recognition,” says Lisa Bevill, associate director of admissions, citing IE’s high international rankings and its growing popularity among recruiters from multinational companies.

At the Front Lines Erin Byer, 26, enrolled at IE this year after working for four years at Habitat for Humanity in San Francisco. She hopes her MBA will help her land a job in the community-development section of a bank, helping low-income people make better financial decisions. Her decision to apply overseas followed a conversation with her parents, who had just written a letter of recommendation


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for a family friend who was applying to a European MBA programme. Byer, who had been looking at programmes in the Bay Area, decided to “get outside my comfort zone” and apply overseas herself. “I’m excited about the opportunity to be able to see more of the world, jump into a completely foreign culture, meet, converse with, and learn from people from many diverse backgrounds,” she wrote in an e-mail message. She says the Spanish programme will put her “at the front lines of what it means to be in a global business market.” International students from 50 countries make up 80 percent of the MBA enrolment at University of Navarra’s IESE Business School in Barcelona. Applications from the United States jumped 25 percent this year over last, and this fall’s entering class of 280 includes 31 Americans. English is the main language of most of the globally-oriented MBA programmes in Europe. The first year of IESE’s full-time MBA programme is taught in English, while second-year electives are offered in English and Spanish. The 16-month programme at HEC Paris is taught in English, but international students are required to study the French language during one of four terms. The growing popularity of European programmes “doesn’t mean that American schools have dropped in students’ esteem,” says Ulrich Hommel, associate director of quality services at the European Foundation for Management Development, which accredits business schools in Europe. “It just means that the whole issue of getting a multicultural, international education has increased in importance, and European schools are sometimes perceived as delivering more on that,” Hommel adds. He is the former dean of the European Business School, in Wiesbaden, Germany, which offers a 16-month international MBA track that includes study abroad at a foreign partner university. One American programme that comes closer to the more practice-oriented European model, he says, is the University of Michigan’s full-time MBA, in which students practice their skills working in teams for companies in different countries. While major global recruiters recognise the brand names of Europe’s top MBA programmes, some applicants still worry that companies accustomed to hiring from Harvard or Wharton might have a tougher time distinguishing among the alphabet soup of programmes like IE, IESE, and HEC. Garrett says she isn’t worried. “In New York, HEC was popping up at the same career fairs as the top American programmes,” she says. “I recognise that if I go to work in a less international city, I may have to explain where I went, but anyone with Google access can find its place in the rankings and see what a strong programme it offers.”

Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter



S. Korean Colleges Aim to Prosper in Worldwide Online Education

South Korea has 17 online colleges. The country has invested heavily in them. Yet, they are not seeing the kind of growth that they had expected. Are traditional methods of teaching going to stay put? BY JEFFREY R. YOUNG


i Kyu Hynn wanted to take a break from teaching his business class last week. So, he signalled to a producer to stop the camera. He stood up from his desk in a small studio and opened a thick, soundproof door that seemed like a space-age airlock. Hynn, a professor at Hanyang Cyber University, said teaching for an online university takes some getting used to, and he’s still adjusting. For one thing, he rarely cracks jokes in his taped lectures, because such quips seem strange in the vacuum of the studio. And, he steers clear of references to current events, since the lectures are reused for the next year or two, and such references can make the video lectures feel dated. Like their professors, South Korea’s 17 online colleges are still adapting to new realities of teaching at a distance. The country has invested heavily in the virtual universities in the past decade, and much of their facilities and software is state-of-the-art. But, observers say, some of the online ventures have struggled to find as many students as expected, because the country already has plenty of traditional universities and a culture that reveres face-to-face education. So Hanyang has begun a new strategy: to look beyond its borders to attract more students from around the globe. The country exports flat-screen TVs and cars, so why not export high-tech education as well?

“Our market will be in Southeast Asia, maybe Africa, maybe the United States,” said Byung Tae Yoo, the university’s vice president. The university has even changed its motto, painted with a world map on a wall of Yoo’s office: “To the world, for the future.” The institution already has 12,000 students and offers 15 degree programmes, including a master’s degree in business. Tuition is about a third of the price of a traditional university here, and it primarily attracts working adults. So far, only a few

hundred foreign students are taking classes, most of them Koreans living abroad. To attract more of a global audience, Hanyang will make some changes. First, it plans to deliver more of its courses in English rather than Korean, the language in which most are now taught. And faculty members are looking to deliver educational material to cellphones. Hanyang isn’t the only Korean education project hoping to make a splash worldwide. Such ambitions were on disOctober 2010  EDUTECH


THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE play at last week’s “eLearning Week 2010” conference and trade show here, which drew some 1,000 participants from elementary and secondary schools as well as higher education. The event, organised by four government agencies, drew a sizeable number of foreign attendees. Conference sessions were held primarily in English and simultaneously translated into Korean and Chinese. In a keynote speech, Haeseok Oh, special adviser to the South Korean president for technology issues, said the country is promoting its IT and software sectors as global players, in an effort he dubbed “smart Korea”. That blended with the conference theme of going beyond current learning technology to move to “smart learning”. Exactly what “smart learning” means was a point of debate throughout the conference, but clearly the country hopes to cash in on it. “Korea is planning and is trying to make a big inroad into making money off of e-learning,” said Ann K. Brooks, a professor of education at Texas State University who has spent 10 years working in Asia. “They’ve invested an enormous amount in hardware, and they’re really good at it.”

‘It’s Just a Struggle’ Can South Korea become a worldwide hub of “smart learning”? And can Hanyang Cyber University achieve its dream—which officials here state nonchalantly during interviews—of being the best online university in the world? When I sat down with Se-Yeoung Chun, president of Korea Education & Research Information Service, to ask him about the biggest obstacle to those goals, he was quick to respond: the language barrier in foreign markets. Specifically, English. “Korean people really hate English. It’s just a struggle. It’s like a demon, you know,” he said with a laugh, as two of his colleagues laughed nervously at his frankness. “We cannot escape from the demon. We must fight with the demon.” Lately South Koreans have attacked the “demon” with technology, sometimes in ways that can seem over the top.


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CAMPUS STUDIOS HERE HAVE ALL THE LATEST TEACHING EQUIPMENT, LIKE LARGESCREEN ELECTRONIC WHITEBOARDS. COURSES CONSIST PRIMARILY OF SLICKLY PRODUCED VIDEO LECTURES & WEB INTERFACE One example: The army of robots designed to teach English to schoolchildren. The South Korean government has committed almost $100-million to this project. I saw a demonstration earlier in the week, when I toured the Centre for Intelligent Robotics, at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. They are clearly an engineering achievement. The roughly three-foot-tall robots can maneuver, recognise speech, and display facial gestures as they broadcast audio. But considering how nuanced and personal the best teaching is, the robots leave something to be desired. Chun said many South Koreans try other high-tech approaches as well, signing up for teleconference learning with native English speakers in other countries. The cyber universities have tried to tap into that market, too, offering “practical English” courses. They are making partnerships with foreign online universities, so that students in South Korea can try a course or two in English taught at an affiliate abroad. Hanyang, for instance, formed a partnership two years ago with eCornell, which offers short online courses in several areas of business and management. The first couple of hundred students in the programme struggled to keep up with the English-language courses at Cornell University, and about half of them dropped out. But since then, Hanyang has worked harder to pick the right students and help them through, said Chris Proulx, chief executive of eCornell,

in an e-mail interview. Last year 78 percent of the Hanyang students completed Cornell’s online courses. Hanyang is in talks with the University of Queensland, in Australia, in an effort to add more such partnership, according to officials at the eLearning Week conference.

Getting the Word Out But why would students elsewhere in the world turn to a South Korean university for an online course? The pitch is that institutions in South Korea can offer the best technology and teaching designs, said Yeonwook Im, a professor of technology at Hanyang. Campus studios here have all the latest teaching equipment, such as large-screen electronic whiteboards that cost about $10,000 each. Most of the courses consist primarily of slickly produced video lectures; the Web interface developed by the university allows students to quickly skip to each major topic of each lecture and includes interactive exercises and online discussion boards. The teaching model here assumes that students can get to high-speed connections. In South Korea, where the broadband infrastructure is among the best in the world, that’s not a problem. But in developing counties, it’s already proving a challenge, said Im. Another challenge is getting the word out to new markets. The initial plan is to reach out to Korean-born students who have migrated to other countries and who already know the Hanyang name. Like many of the online universities in

GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM South Korea, Hanyang Cyber is affiliated with a well-known college here, Hanyang University. Their facilities are side by side, and they have the same president, although technically the two institutions are separate, each with its own faculty and administration. But talking with students at Hanyang University suggests that the cyber version may have its work cut out for it. Several said they would never consider going to an online college, because they

felt they’d be distracted by the format and would need traditional classes. In fact, one of Hanyang Cyber’s most successful strategies to keep students— most of whom are working adults—has been to increase the amount of nonvirtual activities, to help them feel more connected to the institution. The events include informal dinners with professors, optional lectures in a classroom on the campus, even a festival with sports events. Chan Mo Joo, a senior at Hanyang

University, expressed an attitude echoed by his classmates, and perhaps by online students as well. “I prefer to go to a normal school,” he said.

Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewsletter


Saudi Arabia’s Education Reforms Emphasise Training for Jobs

Plans include expanded enrolments and vocational and technical degree programs, but societal challenges loom BY URSULA LINDSEY


t the end of August, about 200 unemployed Saudi university graduates congregated in front of the Education Ministry, in Riyadh. The young men were there to demand government jobs; they held a banner calling for an end to their “oppression”. The rare public protest highlighted the tensions and expectations that make higher-education reform in this kingdom a daunting prospect, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars the government is dedicating to the endeavour. Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth may be enormous, but it has created an economy with very little diversification and a bloated, underproductive public sector. The reformist King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and others know that even with its sizeable resources, the kingdom can no longer offer cushy administrative jobs to a majority of its booming population, and that to prosper the country needs educated young Saudis with marketable skills and a capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s not generally what Saudi Arabia’s educational system delivers, steeped as it is in rote learning and religious instruction.

A few weeks before the protest, the Saudi Council of Ministers, which sets national policies, passed the country’s latest five-year development plan. It calls for spending about $200-billion on expanding access to schools and universities, and for substantially increasing vocational training by 2014. In the past seven years, under King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia has spent lavishly on higher education. About a quarter of each yearly budget goes toward education and vocational training; this year’s allocations, amounting to $36.5-billion, represent a 12.4-percent increase over those of 2009. The King Abdullah Scholarship Programme has sent more than 90,000 Saudis to pursue graduate studies abroad. The number of public universities in the country has risen from eight to 24; a few of them now appear in world university rankings. The development plan calls for nearly doubling the number of university students, from 860,000 to 1.7 million, by 2014. The king and his allies are serious about the need to improve and expand higher education, says John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi, who helped draft the plan. “They understand there is a problem that has to be fixed.” October 2010  EDUTECH



THE SAUDI MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION HAS ALREADY OVERSEEN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF 14 UNIVERSITY RESEARCH CENTRES Many Saudi university students continue to pursue degrees in fields such as social studies, religious studies, history, and literature, despite the labour market’s being saturated with socialscience and humanities majors. Mohammad Al-Ohali, deputy minister of educational affairs, says that is why the Ministry of Higher Education has placed “more emphasis in the last three or four years on technical, engineering, science and medical programmes”, as well as “fields of study related to the job market”, such as administration and computer science. “These are the focus of the new universities we have established,” he says. It may take a while, however, for students’ expectations to line up with the new educational policies. The protest in front of the Education Ministry was organised by graduates of Arabic-language programmes to demand teaching jobs in government schools. “Anyone who has a degree from a Saudi university aspires to a government job,” says Sfakianakis. Government clerks earn around $1,500 a month, have job security, and, with the public sector’s “relaxed working hours”, can often take a second job, he adds. While a job in public administration remains most Saudis’ ideal, the country’s private sector is powered by the foreign workers who make up about a third of the country’s 28 million residents. The government is imposing minimum quotas of Saudi employees on companies and decreeing that certain businesses, like gold shops, travel firms, and car dealerships, be staffed by Saudis. It considers this “Saudisation” of the private sector necessary to limit dependence on foreign labour, create a more dynamic economy, and stanch rising unemployment. “But, one of the main issues that the private sector faces,” says Sfakianakis, “Is the fact that there aren’t enough welltrained Saudis in the kind of jobs that are needed.” That holds true both for high-skilled jobs in finance, engineering, and medicine and for the service sector, where many Saudis are reluctant to take jobs as, say, taxi drivers or hotel receptionists, and expect higher salaries than those paid to expatriate workers. “It is not the scarcity of jobs that is the biggest problem,” says Al-Ohali. “It’s a very complex problem related to people’s habits, to people’s culture.” Official unemployment in Saudi Arabia stands at almost 11 percent. Unofficial estimates place it as high as 35 percent among men in their early 20s with high-


EDUTECH  October 2010

school diplomas. In addition to university graduates who must accept that there are no government positions for them, the relatively new category of young, urbanised job seekers of modest means and limited skills is what worries Saudi authorities. That jobless cohort is destined to swell as the 40 percent of the population that is currently under 15, along with more women, enters the labour force. Accordingly, the government plans to finance a major expansion in vocational training calling for the construction of 25 technology schools, 28 technical institutes, and 50 industrial-training institutes.

Relying on Research The plan also suggests spending $240-million in grants for research projects each year, and calls for the establishment of dozens of research centres and technology incubators at universities. The Ministry of Higher Education has already overseen the establishment of 14 university research centres specialising in such areas as chemical engineering, energy research, and nanotechnology, says Al-Ohali. The ministry hopes to increase their number to 25, he says. Saudi education officials regularly invoke their determination to turn the kingdom into a “knowledge economy.” In 2009, the king created the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or Kaust, as it’s known, and personally donated its $10-billion endowment, saying he hoped it would “become a great institution of research”. The university, Saudi Arabia’s only co-educational institution, offers doctoral degrees in chemical and biological engineering, applied mathematics and computational science, and environmental, chemical and computer science, among other fields. Its nonacademic operations are managed by the oil company Saudi Aramco. But Kaust is an elite, and largely foreign, institution. Neil Partrick, a lecturer at the University of Westminster, in England, and a consultant on Middle Eastern politics and economics, estimates that only 8 percent of Kaust’s students are Saudis. The university is “a platform for foreign-company-assisted R&D,” he says. But even if cutting-edge research takes place on the campus, he says, the question is, “Does that permeate out to the wider economy and society?” Although King Abdullah and his appointees in the Ministries of Education and Higher Education may feel that changes are


GLOBAL.CHRONICLE.COM necessary, Partrick says, they face “constraints” imposed by entrenched bureaucracy and religious conservatism. In addition, among the ruling family are “tension about the direction of the country and politicking. There’s a problem in joining up [government] departments and following up on plans”.

How Fast? How Much? Another hurdle is “The nature of the education that’s being received at an early age and the pressure against changing it,” says Partrick. At least a third of Saudi primary and secondary education is taken up by religious studies. In the 2007 “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study,” produced by the US National Centre for Education Statistics, Saudi schoolchildren ranked near the bottom of the 48 countries surveyed. Sfakianakis, of the Saudi bank, says officials are aware of the need to improve mathematics and science proficiency, and that about 30 percent of the Education Ministry’s budget is going toward retraining teachers in primary schools. But how fast to move to reform the educational system, and how much to rely on foreign expertise and the private sector, are complicated questions for the kingdom’s rulers. In recent years the government has encouraged the private sector to enter the higher-education market, and dozens of private universities and colleges have been established. The pan-Arab newspaper Dar Al Hayat recently reported that the Higher Education Ministry is studying 120 more requests to establish private institutions. “One of the major objectives is to create competition to improve the quality of higher education” and eventually to reduce the tre-

mendous cost of free public higher education, says Al-Ohali, the deputy minister of educational affairs. With that in mind, Saudi authorities support the establishment of private universities through loans and land grants, he says. A recent royal decree stipulated that the government would pay half the tuition costs of all students pursuing private higher education. Saudi universities have also signed more than 300 agreements with counterparts in the US, Europe, and China, Al-Ohali says, under which foreign faculty members teach at the Saudi institutions, which design and evaluate the curriculum together with their foreign partners and engage jointly in research. Even so, the kingdom’s leadership has “decided not to push ahead the model of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” says Sfakianakis, referring to Persian Gulf emirates that have opened their doors to foreign branch campuses. In Saudi Arabia, “They want to have higher education and curriculum in the hands of the state.” That state faces a gargantuan task. Creating better-skilled, employable Saudi university graduates, says Partrick, involves reforming the entire educational system, restructuring the country’s labor market, and encouraging a “cultural shift in terms of attitudes toward work—what Saudis will do—and education—what it’s appropriate to teach to Saudi children.” Subscribe to a free weekly electronic newsletter from the Chronicle of Higher Education at Chronicle.Com/Globalnewslette

This section is being republished with permission from The Chronicle Of Higher Education

Deepak Pental

NAME: Deepak Pental STATUS: Former VC of DU DOB: 1951 BOOK: For the bookworm that he is, it is difficult to name just one. But, Pental admitted that he ‘really enjoyed’ The Rational Optimist recently FOOD: Loved Chinese once. Now, admits to have become a frugal eater FILM: Surprise, surprise, here is a professor who didn’t really enjoy 3 Idiots. Admits that Indian, French and Italian masters are a favourite. After some coaxing, we get a name (a cult classic, too)– Blade Runner PASTIME: Thinking about research, or just plain thinking MUSIC: Here, too, the good professor took us by surprise. Jethro Tull, ACDC, Dire Straits and Bob Dylan were some of the names that he came up with. Now these, we haven’t heard before INSPIRATION: “We are programmed for inspiration as humans. I have derived inspiration from a lot of people and circumstances–but, I greatly admire an old professor of mine, Dr EC Ted Cockin”

The Rational Optimist Deepak Pental, the former Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, talks to EDU about why he is so lucky, and how research keeps him ticking BY ROHINI BANERJEE 56

EDUTECH  October 2010


here are a few people on this planet who can overlook a negative, and focus only upon the positive—Deepak Pental will like to believe that he is one such person. Ask him about the controversies that surrounded him while he was the Vice Chancellor of one of the oldest and most prestigious universities—Delhi University (DU)—he shrugs them off. Those were “occupational hazards”, as far as he is concerned. Instead, he would rather tell you how lucky he was all these years. “Those who crib about life, do their lives and themselves injustice. There are so many people on this planet who do not get a decent meal, or education. I received both. I never thought that I would be able to do research on a topic that I loved. I did! Or, be the Vice



Deepak Pental

Chancellor of such a prestigious university. But, both the chances were mine. I consider myself to be very lucky.” We believe that he is as well. Not because of what he is. But, how he is—taking in the positive, and discarding the negative—he is one of the lucky few. Apart from being optimistic, Pental also confesses that he is rather the “professor-at-heart” and a bit of a “geek”. We get that feeling as well, when he stresses over and over again that a college is where “education takes place”. “I mean there should be a time for fun. But, that (time) should not overlap with your study period dedicated to learning.” On his part, Pental never mixed his pastime with his study period? Wait, he did. The bookworm—who would rather read than talk—considered his laboratory as his playground. And he was content studying for the better part of the day. It’s his “thing” that keeps him happy still. Mention books, especially those related to evolutionary biology, and he gets real chatty. “Panjab University had the best books on evolutionary biology that I had ever laid eyes upon. As a student I was deeply interested in the topic. What are the odds of that happening?” he asks with his eyes shining.

the Nation (who he admired equally) had said of the topic.

Curious Case of Crops Born in one of the greenest states—Punjab—Pental had always cycled through miles and miles of farmland on his way to school and then later to college. Perhaps that’s where his obsession with crops developed. He is a crop-genetics scientist after all. Ideally, he should have followed his father into the line of medicine. But, Pental “hated blood” and had “no flair for it” (medicine). Thus, he abandoned the colour red and chose green instead.


the biggest leap—becoming the Vice Chancellor—and he admits that the decision took him by surprise.

What Next? Who Cares? For a journey that has been this interesting, what lies ahead? “Well, I have never been one of those who obsess about where next. I know that my research laboratory awaits me in the South Campus. I have been going there for the past five years, even while I played the role of the administrator.” Pental is the only researcher-cumadministrator that our EDU team has met so far.


An Odd Point Out Glancing through Deepak Pental’s curriculum vitae, there are oddities that strike the reader. These make him rather the “odd ball”—as far as interests are concerned and as far as passions go. An odd subject—a diploma degree in Gandhian philosophy—stands out especially hard, considering that Pental is a self-confessed fan of the evolutionary sciences. What, then, could be a scientist’s interest in Gandhi, we had to ask—is there a missing link between Pental’s passion and the country’s most charismatic leader? Figures out that’s exactly the question that led him to mix the two. Evolutionary biology and Darwinism, with its idea of the “survival of the fittest”, was such a contrast to what the Mahatma believed, that Pental (an admirer of Charles Darwin) wished to find out what the Father of

“I went to Rutgers for further studies, because it had the environment that encouraged research. Though, I had a great time at Rutgers, I knew that I was coming back to India someday. Life’s full of such epiphanies. At Panjab University, I realised that my PhD was not good enough. I needed to do more in terms of research. Panjab University did not have an environment that was conducive to research.” That’s when TERI came knocking. The institute built an entire laboratory at their Jorbagh (New Delhi) office for Pental. But, research wasn’t one of TERI’s strengths—policymaking was. Thus, came the next shift, to Delhi University, as a professor. The next step— becoming the Director of the South Campus (Delhi University) took him by surprise. Since it allowed him time to research, Pental was happy. Finally, came

As we said earlier, there is something “different” about Deepak Pental—he took steps that often throw you off balance, just a little. Take this for an example. He quit photography after the “digital age” kicked in. Whereas most people adopted photography after the digital camera was introduced, simply because their task became simpler. Pental abandoned photography, because it became way too simple. He likes two polar opposites—Gandhi and Darwin—whose ideas couldn’t be more different at their core. He believes that ecology is in danger, but there is still hope. But then, for the rational optimist that he is, hope is his favourite word. Subscribe to a daily electronic newsletter from EDU at http://edu-leaders.com/ content/newsletters October 2010  EDUTECH


Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood Parker J. Palmer

Book Review

The Heart Of Higher Education US dialogue on integrative education may shed light on path to be taken by newly established Indian varsities

WHAT IS education’s highest calling? The Heart Of Education; A Call To Renewal raises this question, and, answers it by presenting a series of dialogues between academics that evolved during a seminar (Uncovering the Heart of Higher Education) at California in 2007. The book exposes the “heart” of education to be the awakening of the “deepest potential” in students, faculty and staff—through the philosophy of integrative education. Integrative education is the current buzzword in education. It entails a holistic education methodology that addresses the whole human being— mind, heart and spirit—to transform that person in such a way that he or she can contribute in the best possible way to the planet. Integrative learning is a “fearless” concept, which links religion, spirituality, love, trust, sharing and community, to the curricula and classroom. It’s root belief is that unless education can deal with the “messiness” that is modern real life, then it cannot help educated people to use their “classroom” knowledge amid the complexities and cruelties that constantly threaten to undo civilisation. It is a discovery-oriented form of learning. The authors

Cultivate all capacities in our students for knowing and creating Arthur Zajonc

argue that current administrative policies fail to address the entire being (student). And, that the current methodology is at best piecemeal or divided, and fails to empower students with core values, purpose and a direction in life. It also explains and explores integrative education. Loosely translated, integrative education may be seen as making connections within a major, between fields, between curriculum, co-curriculum, or between academic knowledge and practice. Though there is no master plan offered by the experts in the book, there is “focused and disciplined conversation” which the authors hope will itself be a course changing strategy, or lead to one. There is also an impressive list of interesting programmes that have been adopted by academics and authorities in the US, which aim to create a change that “arises in the energised space between caring and thoughtful adults”. With the expansion of the Indian higher education sector, and with a rise in dialogue between Indian academics, administrators and experts, on what is and should be, the book seems to be a “right” one which has arrived at the “right” moment. —Rohini Banerjee

Publisher: Jossey-Bass Price: $ 24.95


Integrating Study Abroad Into the Curriculum WITH INTEREST in overseas education, a question remains: is studies abroad engendering intercultural competencies? The authors suggest structuring education to bridge the gap between academic, and experiential and intercultural learning.

Author: Elizabeth Brewer, Kiran Cunningham Publisher: Stylus Publishers, LLC Price: $ 75


EDUTECH  October 2010

Social Justice Education THIS BOOK addresses the combination of pedagogical, curricular, and institutional commitments necessary to create and sustain diversity on campus. Its premise is that the socially-just classroom flourishes in the context of a socially-just institution.

Author: Kathleen Skubikowski, Catharine Wright Publisher: Stylus Publishers, LLC Price: $ 75



Dell Streak Launched With Tata DoCoMo

GADGETS Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse THE ARC Touch Mouse moulds itself from curved to flat, and can be used on nearly any surface, tracing with its 2.4GHz Nano transceiver and Microsoft BlueTrack technology. Featuring a capacitive touch and scroll sensitive strip, it does away with the mouse wheel. The Arc Touch Mouse is 15mm thick and is, of course, wireless—using two AAA batteries for power that last six months on a single charge.

If you want to make frequent calls with the Dell Streak, we recommend you invest in a Bluetooth handsfree

Price: $ 69.95

DELL STREAK is the first of the world’s major tablets to have arrived in India, and it will be priced at `35,000. Launched in partnership with Tata DoCoMo, the Streak will come with a 500MB free data usage plan for the first six months, with a DoCoMo post-paid connection. The Dell Streak also has a front-facing VGA camera, which will allow for video calling after the upgrade. The five-inch Dell Streak will become one of the biggest phones in the country, and, if you want to make frequent calls with it, we recommend you invest in a Bluetooth handsfree along with it.

Glasses-Free 3DTVs

Price: 35,000

TOSHIBA WILL be releasing two autostereoscopic 3D televisions in Japan in December. The displays will not be very large. They will be available in 12-inch and 20-inch models.

Price: $ 2,900

The Traveller’s Guide ACER ASPIRE One 532H is a sleek ultra-portable notebook that suits the needs of a frequent traveller. It incorporates all the features in a compact design. The optional 3G connectivity adds value for money.


19, 499

Samsung NX100 Micro Four Thirds The Samsung NX100 has finally started shipping now. Featuring a 14.6MP sensor, the NX100 is a mirror-less Micro Four Thirds camera that apart from some rather decent still images (with its full sized APS-C sensor), can record 720p HD video recording. the camera will come with a 20-50mm lens based on the NX mount, and feature a three-inch AMOLED display.

Price: $ 599 October 2010  EDUTECH


PERSPECTIVE PROFESSOR M.N. FARUQUI Former Dean, IIT Kharagpur, Former Vice Chancellor, AMU

Failure of Higher Education Insitutions Our performance can be directly attributed to administration’s and teachers’ apathy. Excellence is not only about buildings and equipment. It’s an attitude and ambition


or sometime now, the academic performance of Indian higher education institutes have been on a decline. An excuse put forth has been that universities are not “autonomous” enough to decide programmes, that they suffer from excessive “control” exuded by the MHRD, UGC and AICTE (etc). Then there is the question of finances. In India we love to point our fingers at the “system”. Autonomy or the freedom from control of the “permit raj” or “sarkari approval”, especially with the IAS sahibs dictating academic policies, is necessary. But, it is not everything and, autonomy and accountability should go hand in hand.

A Closer Look A university ought to be known for its quality of teaching and research. I believe there is no bar on taking the effort to teach well, provided that the gurus are capable. And that the faculty and students are creative. Innovation and creativity are driven by ideas—bureaucratic apathy is a dampener, however, autonomy alone is not enough to foster creativity. Even if we have the best curricula, we can’t have the means to deliver it, unless our curricula receives the support of quality research. There must be an academic atmosphere minus administration, political or management interference, academic obsoles-


EDUTECH  October 2010

cence and poor delivery. Also, universities should work in collaboration with industries and NGOs on projects of their own interest or of national interest. Industries, so far, have been governed by “trading” considerations; and government control has harmed the technology development.

Bottlenecks In Social Sciences Incidentally, social, natural and physical sciences are our neglected departments. Are any of the central universities barred from conducting “involved” teaching? If not, then why are most universities still teaching material that is 20 years old? An excuse is that the “Board of Studies” meeting has not been held for sometime. But, for our classes to evolve, it is imperative that the syllabus is reviewed every year. Then a teacher is left at the liberty to define what s/he wants to teach. Independence is required to develop assignments,


term papers, oral and semester examinations, evaluate performances and grant grades. Lack of lab content is also a concern as is the lack of career opportunities. Remember that teaching social sciences does not require heavy finance. Our poor performance can be directly attributed to administration’s and teachers’ apathy.

A Problem In Physical Science When it comes to natural and physical sciences, the academia has been taking no effort to keep abreast with latest research. One reason for this is that experiments require money that most (Indian) departments cannot afford. Perhaps, one way of overcoming this problem would be to share lab facilities among universities. The traditional universities also lag behind when it comes to the use of advanced computing and related software and hardware. And, the country should have better infrastructure that provides better bandwidths. Excellence is not only about grand buildings and equipment. It’s an attitude and ambition.

In Conclusion The zamindari of state establishments must be broken to make colleges that are doing well autonomous to teach and examine. If we are not willing to trust our teachers, we may as well forget excellence and integrity of universities as well. (To read the full article log in to edu-leaders.com)