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SRM University: Promoting Research and Innovative Teaching

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SRM University is creating and disseminating knowledge and providing students a unique learning experience in Science, Technology, Medicine, Management and other areas, says Pankaj Agarwal, Chancellor, Shri Ramwaroop Memorial University and Executive Director, Shri Ramsawroop Memorial Group of Professional Colleges, in an interview with Elets News Network (ENN).


Better higher education results in improved career opportunities. What factors should students keep in mind while selecting a specialisation for their graduation and further studies?

Pankaj Agarwal, Chancellor, Shri Ramwaroop Memorial University and Executive Director, Shri Ramsawroop Memorial Group of Professional Colleges

Pankaj Agarwal, Chancellor, Shri Ramwaroop Memorial University and Executive Director, Shri Ramsawroop Memorial Group of Professional Colleges

Choosing the right course and institute is one of the most significant decisions that will affect a student’s entire life. This is why students need to first self-assess, bearing in mind their goals. While evaluating an institute, they should analyze whether the ways of learning will be only conventional or if the institute offers modern teaching pedagogy. Further, level of industry focus, quality of faculty and international learning opportunities should also be evaluated. It is also important that the chosen institute has accreditations and affiliations required in the desired course. Having said that, the most important factor is that the student should feel that the course and institute will provide the required skill set to achieve the set career objective.

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How are Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence helping higher education system to get more student participation and faculty engagement?

Emerging technologies like IoT and AI are creating a fundamental shift in the way academic operations are run today. In the coming years, they will create new products and services that maximize opportunities and will serve as a face changer for higher education system. They are helping the industry in substantial ways by giving access to unlimited information flow from anywhere and anytime, and by promoting new concepts, designs and ensuring implementation of the same.Further, they are also improving educational outcomes by providing richer learning experiences and by gaining real-time, actionable insights into student performance. With such technology, collecting data on student performance and using it to customize teaching plans has become easy.

How is technology helping the University in nurturing the culture of innovation, a culture that encourages entrepreneurship, discovery, and experimentation amongst its students?

Technology is the biggest tool that drives an environment of innovation, entrepreneurship, and experimentation in the academic blood of an institution. Given this, we decided to move from on-premise ERP implementation to Oracle Cloud ERP, because unlike the on-premise software which requires frequent and continuous time-intensive and costly upgrades, SaaS solutions always stay updated – giving immediate access to new capabilities and features as they become available.

By implementing such new-age technology, we were able to foster an environment of innovation in our university. For instance, now our students can perform complicated experiments using relevant technologies. At a university level, we are now able to provide a common interface to know and understand the industry requirements, give opportunities ofa multi-disciplinary pursuit of knowledge and research to our students, and make research work related to any field from across the globe available.

How best can a university put across a technology vision and an IT roadmap for overall improvement in institutional performance and student success?

To ensure that the transformation process is gradual, consistent and sustaining, a university should firstly, implement a technology platform that unifies academic and related non-academic activities – making monitoring and evaluating possible.  Further, technology should be used to provide continuous student evaluation and to make the entire process visible to both faculty and parents, apart from concerned students, to increase chances of improvement. Lastly, all operations should be integrated using a single unified platform,to ensure transparency and high efficiency.

Using technology platforms helps in gathering all activities-related data,of all stakeholders. This big data can be further used for analysis – to draw meaningful and more active decisions related to manpower, finances etc. SRMU uses Oracle Peoplesoft to augment efficiency and effectiveness and for monitoring of classroom activities, evaluation, finance and human resource.

Project-based learning, challenge-based learning and inquiry-based learning are gaining momentum nowadays. Describe the steps taken by the university in this regard.

The above three are the latest and most innovative methods that have made learning more expressive and abiding. At SRMU (Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University) this has been made possible by promoting industry interface to provide hands-on practice of real-life scenarios.By using automated software and running collaborative programs fromOracle and other technology vendors,we have been able to promote shorter learning curves,and by inviting industry experts, who share their experiences and make young minds inquire and learn.

Moreover, our continuous evaluation system keeps students on track and gives them multiple opportunities to improve.We have an extremely qualified faculty to promote an atmosphere of research and consultancy. Our collaborations with various foreign institutions and professional bodies like CII, AIMA, TiE, IICA, FICCI etc. further provides vast opportunities for both faculty and students to take up research and consultancy projects.

Digital India and Skill India are two most ambitious projects of the Government of India, how is the university training its students to be skillful, employable and tech-savvy?

We have always believed that the most important attributes of higher education are – who is teaching students, the methodology of teaching, and what is being taught. If a high standard of these three is maintained, we will be able to train our students to be more skilled and tech-savvy, resulting in better employability.

At SRMU, we ensure that our faculty is recruited from premier institutes of India, and we conduct continuous industry interactions to keep both our faculty and students updated. We have also set-up best-in-class labs which are equipped with latest machines and technology and organize workshops and field visits to test and implement classroom teaching. We have also tied-up with various industry experts who educate us about current industry requirements.

Despite a phenomenal expansion in the education system in our country, Indian universities don’t stand alongside the universities abroad. How can this scenario be improved?

We have made rapid progress in the field of higher education and the same is evident from the number of colleges and universities operating in the county today. To make improvements and get placed on the global rankings we need to adhere to succeeding facts, like improving the quality of faculty, promoting research environment, investing on equipping labs with latest technology, using technologies like IOT and AI to gain access to all talent hubs across the globe, cultivating entrepreneurs by setting up entrepreneurship incubation cells, creating an industry interface to know the skills in demand and finally by setting up technology platforms to standardize and improve internal operations.

What prompted you to implement Oracle Cloud Services? What were the various challenges being faced earlier?

Our motivation to move from an on-premise ERP implementation to Oracle Cloud ERP was based on a number of factors. Firstly, the on-premise solutions require not only the purchase of the software, but also support-costs for license,additional hardware, personnel for maintenance, network monitoring, management tools and more. In the SaaS model, many of these costs are included in the subscription itself – whichensures a lower total cost of ownership, and reduced complexity/ overhead. Time to value, ease of implementation, the ability to try before you buy, and the ongoing vendor accountability and engagement, were among other factors we considered.

Oracle ERP Cloud not only provides robust support by giving easy access to ERP system but is also cost-effective. We were able to easily understand the interface and have also experienced its ease to maintain and upgrade. Also, the cloud solutions easily integrated between heterogeneous software systems.

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