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The Country Needs a Flexible Academic Calendar

By Dinu Nanjappa, Head of Early Talent and University Hiring - APJ, SAP | Wednesday, 24 Aug 2016, 11:24 IST

Even though India is well equipped with approximately 700 Universities and more than 35,000 higher educational institutions, the number of Indian entries in the world ranking of universities are considerably a smaller amount. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2013 - 14, there was not even a single Indian University or Institution in the Top 200 list. On the other side, American Universities and UK Universities dominated the lists. While, many reputed universities from these countries widening their wings back to India, it is evident that the country does not possess any shortage of talent. Still, falls short of achieving the global reputation.

Unlike universities in the U.S. and UK, the backbone of majority higher educational institutions in the country is a mulish academic calendar evolved from an antique syllabus of affiliated university. The unchanged scenarios in the higher education sector resulting in a routine production of fresh graduates who are more bookish by birth. However, the need of the industry is out of the box thinkers who have definite amount of real time experience while graduating from the college. Many colleges lack exact awareness of what is really happening in the industry and thus, the gap between industries and institute widens day by day. Today's industries are very dynamic and trends here may even change on a daily basis. With an aim of inculcating the changes that are happening out in the industry, many colleges have people from industry in their academic counsel to prepare the course curriculum accordingly. However, the changes are not reflected in the curriculum regularly.

Recently, in a panel discussion hosted by one of the prominent institutes in the country, the foremost point of discussion was the flexibility of academic calendar in Indian institutions. In the long discussion, one of the drawbacks that were pointed out by several industry colleagues and academicians was about the obdurate mentality of colleges to stick on to their academic calendar. This does not simply pull the entire education system backwards but also limits the student's chances of gaining much needed real time project experiences from major companies around them. As per the academic calendar of majority of the engineering institutions in the country, students are permitted to do their final year academic projects in their eighth semester, which starts from January and ends at June. There is no such rule that every company should offer internship to students during this period. This has led the students to use their personal contacts to find some companies to finish their internship for the sake of completing the course.

The institutions need to understand the fact that the industry is very dynamic and it may even change on a daily basis. A continuous interaction with industry professionals is the only way for colleges to understand exactly what the industry needs. In reality, only few colleges in India keep this in mind and act in view of that. Those who have understood the fact have made the necessary provisions for students to undergo internships whenever the industry requires them as the first step toward narrowing the gap. In that sense, for betterment of students in the country, every college and MHRD must necessitate the university to change their syllabus by infusing the changes in the industry frequently, which will further encourage the colleges to make a flexible academic calendar.

As a part of improving the academic excellence of students, few years back NASSCOM proposed a major change in the academic calendar of universities and institutes. They suggested the engineering institutes to conduct all placements at the end of the eighth semester. For the industry, it was a welcoming decision as it has been observing that an early placement in the seventh semester can negatively influence the student's final semester studies. Unfortunately, most universities did not accept the proposal. However, it left a message on how a flexible academic calendar can influence the academic excellence and employability of students.

There are many colleges and universities in the country, that are always thriving to do better than what they were doing in the past. Most of them are bound by the university rules, which limit the colleges to make their own changes for the betterment of their students. To eradicate this, there should be a substantial effort from the grass root level. Universities need make more alignment with the industry. This will definitely result in a huge growth in terms of student's potential and the employability. With the combined effort and visibility that universities and students can create for themselves will amount to something that will ultimately benefit the country. (As told to HER Team)

About the Author: Dinu Nanjappa

He is In-charge of Early Talent and University Hiring Program for SAP's Asia-Pacific & Japan region. He frequently involves in building relationship with top Engineering, Management and Design schools in APJ as a part of his job. He also partners with SAP's Global University Alliances Program and helps top universities in APJ region to get empanelled under this program where students get to learn SAP as part of their curriculum from SAP experts. The holder of management degree in Human Resources has over 10 years of experience in University Engagement and Recruitment.

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