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“Management Education Can’t Rely Upon Outdated Nostrums”

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Professor Philip Taylor, Academic Director of Programmes, Strathcylde SKIL Business School shared his thoughts and views on the Indian education scenario and their roadmap for the Indian market with Pragya Gupta. Excerpts:

How do you see India as a market for higher education?

All informed commentators, including the Government of India, acknowledge that the demand for higher education is set to grow significantly in the short to medium term. For the next few decades, India’s population will remain young, and higher education will be needed to equip them to play their rightful roles in the knowledge economy. Due to the economic growth in the Indian economy, and as more and more families join the relatively better off sections of society, the demand for higher education is likely to grow at an accelerated pace.  Expansion will grow apace particularly in the area of business and management studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

What pedagogical innovations are you planning to bring in India?

Strathclyde SKIL Business School (SBSS) is adopting a unique and coherent approach to delivering education in India through our state-of-the-art campus in Greater Noida. This is not an off-shored facility but a fully integrated campus within the University of Strathclyde that has a unique partnership with SKIL.

A key element in our pedagogy is the importance of delivering high quality education that applies theoretical knowledge emanating from cutting edge research to concrete practical setting. Strathclyde’s philosophy is best encapsulated in the fulfilment of its mission as ‘The Place of Useful Learning’. This underlying principle will inform the first programme to be delivered by SBSS, the Master in Management which commences in September 2011, and the Bachelor in Business Studies which follows in September 2012 and then the MBA in September 2013.

What are the challenges enduring in the Indian market? What are the key issues that need to be addressed to produce more skilled and quality workforce?

The main challenge in the Indian market is to ensure that the demand for business and management undergraduate and postgraduate education can be fulfilled by premium provision which ensures that students are able to access the highest quality learning experience.

Managers in the contemporary Indian context face the enormous challenge of leading their organisations in conditions of rapid change. Indeed it could be argued that the only constant is change. It follows that the emerging generation of business and management graduates and postgraduates are equipped with ability to apply their knowledge in complex and contradictory situations.

How can management education in India be reinvented in a way that can project it to the forefront of leadership and management training worldwide?

Management education in India cannot consist of rote learning or rely upon outdated nostrums. Successful managers must be able to draw upon the knowledge derived from the very cutting edge of critical management research and be steeped in an approach which understands the vital need for creative application of problem solving based upon that knowledge. In this sense advanced theoretical understanding based upon contemporary research is of great necessity for informed managerial and business practice.

What are your expectations from the Indian government?

We believe that the Indian Government is very focussed on the importance of making education available to the Indian population across all geographies and at all levels. In order to do this, we are seeing the Government moving away from what was largely a prescriptive regime towards a more participative environment where the learners and educators are able to interactively decide what the content of education needs to be, and how this should be designed and delivered so that it can be harnessed for the betterment of both society and the individual. We expect this trend to continue and indeed accelerate both in scope and pace. 

Please share you plans and roadmap for the Indian market?

India is a focus area for us, and we see the Indian market to be one of the core areas for us. We have started with management education in Greater Noida, and over the span of the next three years, we will be rapidly expanding the scope to cover undergraduate students and persons with experience with the BBS and the MBA programmes. Our plans are to set up other centres across India in the years ahead, and also to expand the disciplines to cover Science and Engineering, other subjects in which the University of Strathclyde is a recognised leader.

Kindly shed light on the reason for the collaboration between SKIL and Strathclyde?

SKIL Infrastructure is one of the leading infrastructure developers in India. In our early discussions, it became evident that SKIL was bringing the practical perspective from India to the equation. This is critical in any such venture

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