Universities addressing real-world challenges

Shanti menon

All great civilisations had one thing in common – great cultivation and great reaping from education. Education was instrumental in preserving the values of these great civilisations. Education has been and always will be the fulcrum of advancements in societies, social structures, and human capital, as well as innovations, discoveries, inventions, and explorations. Universities should use various methods and strategies to prepare their students for real-world challenges. And this should be one of their most significant pursuits as an academic entity. As an institution, we have constantly and consistently emphasised imparting creativity to our students through structured programs or informal events. We are convinced this will keep them in good standing when they graduate and face the real world.

Replicate real-world scenarios in their classrooms

Educators should replicate real-world scenarios in their classrooms to make the driving theme and its learning content more accessible, more flexible and more meaningful. This positions students to take ownership of such learning in a much easier and more meaningful manner. Also, programs should be designed to allow students to learn self-guided, which puts them in a better position to take learning ownership easily. While doing so, another significant aspect is to align their thinking and mindset with emotional hue and shades with a social emphasis toward communication with their team and with each other, more so of the right type apt to the situation at hand, problem-solving skills, empathy and a helping attitude towards the team as a group of knowledge seekers. These attributes will position them with the right attitude, providing them with the maximum benefits from acquiring knowledge and the zest and passion to know more.

We also use practical approaches while delivering knowledge and skills to the students through project-based works aligned with their theoretical absorption. This approach will develop their abilities, such as how to examine a problem critically, the time-bound nature of the work, how to collaborate with other team members, and collectively and individually how to synergise critical thinking. The project-based work entails a good amount of interaction with other team members. They will inculcate excellent soft skills, team and situational adaptability, refined communication processes, and a sense of belongingness as a team toward a specific project objective. Such project situations will also encourage the students to produce great work together.

Challenges and personality developments

All the above entails challenges and personality developments at various levels, facets, and situations depending on the objectives. Some challenges could be performing research work for academic writing or project work or performance in academic expectation by the University– these fall within the four corners of ‘academic challenges’. The others could be in the form of ‘personal challenges’, and sometimes these challenges go together hand in hand for a student. Teachers should always be ready to guide, mentor and help students with these challenges to make them good students and, in the future, be prepared to face the real world when these challenges pop up on almost all fronts of life – professional and personal. These challenges are better examined and addressed in the context of a student’s personality-positioning while handling them. We address personality challenges first by giving them confidence and trust to handle situations as they arise. This is probably the most challenging part of a teacher’s role. Teachers are great and passionate in their jobs, and their ultimate focus is their students, and their glory lies in their accolades and achievements.

The other challenge we face is helping students to be well-balanced individuals. These challenges are – to help them learn how to persevere through everyday and unique situations in life, to identify whether a problem is solvable and if it is challenging to be aware of the difference, how to find the best or optimal way to solve such a problem and what personality to wear mentally when such a scenario arises. Likewise, another challenge is to encourage students toward personal growth. This would include motivating the students to self-introspect for strengths and weaknesses. Address strengths by adding new skills while recognising weaknesses by working toward translating them into strengths. Such initiative will increase students’ confidence levels and their awareness about themselves regardless of their settings. Such initiatives will also develop students’ positive attitudes, sense of self-importance, and time management skills. These would later in real-world-life prove to be beneficial to them to have better professional and personal relationships, high levels of confidence, better job satisfaction, more excellent growth prospects, and a greater probability of being liked by everyone in the organisation, prepare them to use the correct responses to job situations, and to have a passion and motivation to learn and grow.

To address the above challenges, we have frequent industry workshops to give a first-hand opportunity to understand the real world. By engaging students in internships and corporate training, we encourage them to interact with industry professionals and understand how real-world corporate offices and organisations work. Our workshops periodically facilitate the students’ networking with the corporate sectors. In addition, we have an active soft-skill and personality development program for the students that runs alongside the course curriculum. We know that such soft-skills and personality development programs are not mere programs but are an essential interface between curriculum learning and its practical application in the real world. All these would go to help students with better employability prospects. At Stirling, RAK, we endeavour to engage students in community programs as this brings purposefulness and pride in belonging to society. Any strategy we adopt should directly impact preparing its students for the real world later. It is imperative, therefore, to stress that our University’s overarching pursuit of providing academic consumption to its knowledge seekers should be to make them real-world ready in all senses of meanings it may import.

Views expressed by Ms. Shanthi Menon, SFHEA, Director, Internal Quality Assurance Department (IQAD), University of Stirling, RAK Campus

"Exciting news! Elets Education is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest insights!" Click here!
Be a part of Elets Collaborative Initiatives. Join Us for Upcoming Events and explore business opportunities. Like us on Facebook , connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter , Instagram.