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Higher Education 2018-01-09

Campus experience can never be replicated by virtual technology: Prof. RSS Mani

In conversation with Prof. RSS Mani, Vice President- Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions, who talks about the present scenario of the higher education in the country.

Campus experience can never be replicated by virtual technology: Prof. RSS Mani

Making students industry ready while being self abreast of what’s happening around and offering futuristic programs is the mantra of Mumbai based reputed ITM Group of Institutions. It is on the move of bringing revolution in the higher education industry. Its courses are co-created by the industry. It does due diligence and research worldwide for the trends and subsequently keeps rectifying its syllabus for looking out what can be added and subtracted, modified and altered to upgrade the syllabi year wise. It has presence across metros to leading tier II cities across the country while having a ​UGC recognized private university in Baroda and Raipur. Thus discussing about the status of higher education in the country along with the institutions initiatives to make students industry ready, Prof. RSS Mani, Vice President- Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions spoke to educationbiz.com.

How are you moving towards revolutionizing the education sector?
One of the main revolutions in the higher education sector is to make the courses more industry centric and to ensure that students are job ready after completion of the course. The companies prefer to hire students who are well trained by their colleges so that they can start delivering their quality capabilities from day one.

ITM is making sure that we can make students more job ready. We are ensuring that the courses that we offer at the institute level are co-created by the industry. We also make sure that maximum industry interaction is available to the students on the practical aspects along with the social aspects. This will help the students to understand the expectations of the industry when they are doing the course. We provide a 20 week industry internship at the MBA level. At the engineering level the students are encouraged to do projects every semester. We are also trying to ensure that students build soft skills, business skills, and business etiquettes right when they are in college.

Which are the various programs, initiatives and activities that keep you on the edge in the education sector?
We have always tried to have different programs at our institutes. Like a very unique engineering program has been launched in our institute in Raipur. The idea to launch the program is to invite applicants after their 10th Standard and they pass out as an engineer. We ensure students are involved in a lot of industry related activities such as conferences, seminars, road shows to gain practical knowledge. We do promote a lot of Industry academia where faculty can learn from academia and Vice versa.

ITM also has a sensitization program for MBA and BBA students where they have to collate and work with an NGO with underprivileged in the social sectors so that they are concerned about the current scenario and they must take an effort to reach out and support those who are less privileged. ITM was part of several national movements, initiatives and activities such as Swachh Bharat, don’t smoke in public places, don’t spit in public, save our rivers, environment protection, conservation and pollution reduction. Our campus also has national entrepreneurship cell.

Which are the largely opted programs for the students?
Maximum numbers of student opt for our MBA programs along with bachelors in hotel management and hospitality management. The other largely opted courses are offered in the Para Medical space as health sciences course along with bachelors in optometry and in pathology. Lot of students are also enrolled for bachelors in business administration in University of Raipur. 

Which would be the emerging programs in the education sector that could suit the corporate needs?
The emerging programs would be in the field of digital marketing, data analytics, data sciences, psychological counselling and hospitality management as a whole which can cater to the segments like hotels, cruise companies, resorts, and luxury residents.

ITM has newly started offering MBA in data analytics as we feel that in the industry there is a need for this course. Likewise there is MBA in finance and marketing. We do offer MBA in data analytics and in digital marketing. Also, we are looking into more detailed course in areas like derivatives and financial markets along with planning to launch courses like dental assistant, general duty assistant, geriatric assistant and short term course in hotel operations. We also hope to offer courses in retail and sales officers for banks. 

How do you keep yourself on your toes to offer futuristic and comprehensive education of global standards?
We keep our self abreast of what’s happening around, keep interacting with industry for which our students are going to do the jobs. We do our own due diligence and research worldwide for the trends and subsequently we keep rectifying our syllabus for looking out what can be added and subtracted, modified and altered to upgrade our syllabi year wise. We also interact with a lot of foreign universities and partner with them. We always ask ourselves what we can do better.

What is your current presence across different cities?
We have our management and MBA programs in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Warangal in Telangana. We offer engineering programs in Baroda, Raipur, Vaizag and Nagpur. We are a ​UGC recognized private university in Baroda and Raipur​. A separate skills academy has been evolved by ITM known as the ITM skills academy and lot of these courses are approved by NSDC (National skills Development Corporation). In this skills academy we co-create one month to 6 months duration courses designed by our faculty and industry executives from the company’s side. Our future plans are to consolidate all the programs and make our programs more industry relevant and make our students more industry ready.

According to you what is the current state of higher education in the country?
The internationalization of Indian higher education is a top priority for Indian policy makers and education providers. Ample initiatives have been taken by policy makers and education agencies to promote the internationalization with the aim of putting Indian higher education on the global map, but unfortunately, only a handful of institutes represent the country in the global arena. One of the best ways to make education more focussed and specialised would be to promote educational hubs all over the country. These hubs do exists in India today, but are largely heterogeneous in nature. A city like Mumbai, Bangalore offers all possible avenues of education like medicine, engineering, hospitality, management across multi disciplinary areas. However the need of the hour is to have education hubs that are industry specific. We need to have clusters of industry and academic institutions at the same location. Thus major purpose of setting up these hubs is to create training facilities and internships for students and thus groom to get solid career foundation.

How campus experience can be replicated using virtual technology?
Campus experience can never be replicated by virtual technology. Virtual learning through Skype, through YouTube, video conferencing is an outstanding way for students to connect with the faculties all over the world. It is also an outstanding way for students to interact with the professors from any location without any geographic barrier, but these can be an additional input to the learning and value addition process. Virtual education can never be replicated, duplicated and substituted.

Campus experience is unparallel, as campus learning from teachers, learning from pears, learning from alumni, learning from the entire eco system of the campus will be available only at the campus. Virtual technology is welcome with a boon and ITM is using it as illustrated. We also use technology in large numbers at the learning process via Moodle, testing process, usage for examinations and use psychometric testing as a learning platform for ITM as an additional aspect​ for delivering high quality education.

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