“Industry-academia partnership plays an important part in mitigating the skills crunch. Training individuals to make them job-ready will not only make a difference in their lives, it will also lead to enrichment of our communities,” says Rajeev Shorey, President, NIIT University, in conversation with Pragya Gupta
Foreign collaborations have been among the key academic elements of educational institutes today. Can you highlight the initiatives of NIIT University (NU) in this regard?
TNIIT University recognises the fact that innovation does not stop at national borders; we believe that developing close relationships with like-minded institutions of higher learning across the globe will enhance the domestic educational environment. In its endeavour to strengthen a symbiotic relationship with eminent Universities, NU has signed memorandum of understanding with Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, China, Aalborg University, Centre for Teleinfrastruktur(CTIF), Denmark, and Changshu Institute of Technology, China
These mutually beneficial agreements are designed to initiate joint research programs, seminars, conference projects, industrial projects, exchange of information projects, training and internship projects for staff and students. These programmes also enhance the global perspective of our students by enabling them to develop an understanding of different cultures.
What are your views on the process of subsuming various regulatory bodies for a common regulatory body?
The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, introduced by Human Resource Development Minister, Kapil Sibal, seeks to promote autonomy of higher educational institutions and universities for free pursuit of knowledge and innovation. The NCHER will subsume all existing regulatory bodies, including UGC, AICTE and Council of Distance Education. The Bill also provides for comprehensive and integrated growth of higher education and research keeping in view the global standard of educational and research practices.
Currently, there are more than 11 million students enrolled for higher education in more than 600 universities and 24,000 colleges. In the next 5 years, Indian government expects 700 new universities and 10,000 colleges to be built mostly by the private sector. In such a scenario, it is becoming increasingly important to have a regulatory system that will ensure quality of higher education in India.
We welcome this initiative which is a step towards building autonomous, qualitative and integrated institutions. This will accelerate the approval procedure and create a unified regulatory system. If the new regulatory body is constituted in a transparent manner, India can have a transparent and unified higher education system.
I hope the bill will bring about transformation in the higher education sector in near future by building a strong and vibrant higher education system that can contribute towards development of the country.
“I strongly feel that Information and Communication Technology will play a key role in making higher education Accessible, Effective and Efficient. Since inception, NIIT has innovatively used technology to offer quality education”
Do you think Industry Academia Partnership is important to provide employable skills for students? What are the linkages of NIIT University with the industry?
In India, there is a mismatch in what the industry needs and what the universities are creating. One of the approaches to tackle the problem of skills-deficit in fresh graduates is partnerships between the industry and academia. It is widely held that knowledge, skills, and resourcefulness of people are critical to sustain development, economic and social activity in a knowledge based society. Given the current high-paced growth and dynamic investment climate in India, the demand for knowledge workers with high levels of technical and soft skills is only bound to increase.
In response to these challenges, many companies today have intensified their academic interventions in order to tackle the impeding shortage of knowledge workers. Industry-academia partnership plays an important part in mitigating the skills crunch. Training individuals to make them job-ready will not only make a difference in their lives, it will also lead to enrichment of our communities.
At NIIT University we are focused on building great careers, hence extensive connectedness to the industry is the hallmark of the University. In fact, proving industry-linked education to our students is one of the four core principles of NU.
What are the initiatives of NIIT University to achieve the objectives of the national skills development mission?
NIIT University has already practised a concept of “education at work” at M Tech level. For us M Tech is not a vocational education, the University has a unique system of integrating work with education, which is scalable and applicable to any sector of economy.
Several studies indicate that an overwhelming percentage of students passing out from engineering colleges and B-schools lack skills needed to start working. How can this be tackled by higher education institutes?
Today, most companies want to recruit fresh graduates who are industry ready in every sense. As per NASSCOM estimates, of all Engineering graduates, only 25 percent will be ready with desired skill sets to be employable by the industry. Hence, top scores, latest technology skills, international certifications and relevant industry exposure is the need of the hour for every engineering and IT graduate.
What are your views on ICT usage in education?
We are living in an age where technology has touched every aspect of our lives including how we access information, the way we communicate with each other, and how we carry out research and development. Hence it is hardly surprising that ICT usage in education is increasingly gaining importance in India. Ready availability of multimedia, computers and Internet has opened up several interesting teaching-learning possibilities. As a result the importance of IT-enabled education has increased many folds. Use of IT in education has enabled students to understand the concepts better and apply them in practical life.
What kind of ICT solutions are being used by the University for teaching and administration purposes?
I strongly feel that Information and Communication Technology will play a key role in making higher education Accessible, Effective and Efficient. Since inception, NIIT has innovatively used technology to offer quality education. In fact, providing “Technology based” education to its students is one of the four core principles of NIIT University to achieve the excellence in education. Amongst its various other initiatives, NIIT offers synchronous learning based Executive Management programmes from India’s top B schools through NIIT Imperia. It is an effective technological tool to bring together the faculty and students, who are otherwise separated by significant distances. Through the new high-tech environment, students can experience learning almost in the same way as they would if they were in a normal classroom. They can ask questions from their instructor and learn about the answers.