Bringing Industry-Academia Closer

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Prashant Bhalla

Prashant BhallaWe can have quality institutions only if we have deregulation and giving the institutions better autonomy and more flexibility, says Prashant Bhalla, Chairman, Manav Rachna Educational Institutions

Please tell is about the concept behing Manav Rachna. What is your vision?

Manav Rachna was set up to provide quality education, especially to the students in Northern India. We started 15 years back in 1997 when privatisation in the higher education sector was negligent. At that time, certain policies of the AICTE and  several initiatives of the central and state governments came in which wanted to push the private sector in coming into the higher education space.

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Our commitment is to provide quality education and we try to bring in the best practices from across the world through our cross linkages, from various international institutions and partners, as well as very strong connectivity with industries like Tata Consultancy Services, Maruti Suzuki, Jai Bharat Maruti and other management, banking, finance and engineering companies. We are trying to create a bridge between the industry and academia: the need of the hour. Our curriculum is relevant to what  the industry needs and aims at driving the whole system towards contributing to it.

How do the foreign collaborations contribute to Manav Rachna?

When you are associated with a good academic institution, the drive comes from the faculty and departments. There are articulations, academic exchanges, student exchanges, international placements, and joint research. We are trying to develop something that is truly indigenous with support mechanism from the best practices from across the world. Manav Rachna Institutions have a strong base of foreign collaborations with Carneige University, Curtin University (Australia) and with universities in Finland, UK, New Zealand, and other countries across the world. Our new venture, the Kunskapsskolan Schools is a new methodology of teaching prevalent in the West: a true personalised coaching, and goal-based learning that we are trying to bring in into our schools. We will follow the CBSE curriculum and break it into a student-centric learning methodology rather than a student- or teaching-centric methodology.

What made you get into this field and what are your future plans?

The drive was to bring in something in the North. Today, we are trying to drive the environment in such a way that we make continuous innovations to provide new courses. We have to focus on the courses that are relevant to the current timeframe and the current generation and try to bring in ways to use the best available technology. Technology and digital learning should be implemented in the right way and the whole community should benefit out of it.

In the future, we will try to move into health sciences. We are creating the first flagship of Kunskapsskolan Schools in Gurgaon and we plan to take it to across the country.

What are your expansion plans?

We are trying to develop this programme as a methodology and as a concept. We will look at like-minded people who would be interested in working with us, or those who are running their own schools and would want to adapt to this methodology. It is driven by a learning portal and any school can adapt to it. The challenge is the implementation thought process and trying to work upon the existing system because there is a great resistance of change whenever you try to do something new.

Please tell us about your industry academia linkages.

We are moving to a practical way of doing things. Our students get the advantage of picking their career from the day they join us. The industry also benefits from this because they do not have to work on training the students and on getting them involved in their system from day one.

Companies like Jai Bharat Maruti and Tata Consultancy Services are moving on to this thought process. During the selection process of the students, the industry representatives jointly do the selections and contribute towards what is being driven to them. We are also planning to start an MBA in healthcare with Fortis Hospitals.

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