It has been a never-ending debate on ‘The Purpose Aspect’ of Universities to date since the establishment of the University of Bologna Italy, the oldest university in the world. In India, since 1857 when the first 3 Universities were established, the University of Calcutta, the University of Bombay & the University of Madras, a similar debate had been continuing.
Over the past 800 years approx, the concept of education being prevalent in the society, this debate on the ‘purpose aspect’ of any University had been duly universal.
As shared by Prof. Dr.Pankaj Chandra, Vice-Chancellor, Ahmedabad University and former director of IIM-B in his book “Building Universities that Matter”, that –
- The first purpose of education is to create good human & valuable citizens of a nation.
- The second purpose is to coach the young minds towards their self-livelihood & income.
- The third purpose is to help someone to find one’s own lifelong passion and meaning towards life.
In this context, the first & third purpose is hard to be quantified but the second one is measurable and that creates meaningful impact on the institutional brand.
All universities on a continuous process had been facing this strenuous trade-off between cost, quality & quantity; and therefore serious thought must be connoted on ‘Its Purpose’.
University 1.0 was driven by religion. University 2.0 was driven by the State. Universities 3.0 was driven by Philanthropy. All three versions of universities will continue but now need to accommodate some attributes of University 4.0 that will recognize employability as an important and unavoidable objective.
One would primarily expect to see that a university has optimized the link between teaching pedagogy and its student’s employability on 3 following aspects and they are –
- Value for money i.e confidence in the value of their qualitative education.
- Employer’s satisfaction with skills. Ideally perceived skill gap either non-existent or minimal
- The correlation between student’s perceptions about industry, job & organization; and employer’s perception about the readiness of the budding students.
I think if we consider an overall approach towards employability then it’s either ill-defined or not defined at all. Now in the current complex business era, employability is not only having domain knowledge and skills but it’s who are well-rounded, confident, resilient, self-aware, critical thinker & problem solver and that’s why our approach should start with the adoption of necessary discourse.
Employability is not only about getting the first job, it should be much more than this simple terminology. It’s about the encouragement in building an eco-system to have numerous jobs, entrepreneurship and certainly continue to develop as successful individuals in the area they desire to pursue.
Why University 4.0 should be focused on Student employability?
In today’s pace, the employability development eco-system is one index that every student considers very categorically while opting for & choosing any institute/university for their higher studies. In fact, there has been a significant increase in the focus ideology of students towards their employability and learning outcome; along with agencies willing to provide grants, endowments & subsidies to the institutes/universities.
- UGC Quality Mandate:
The commission, in its 532nd meeting held on 24-05-2018, clearly states that all HEI’s to strive to achieve the following objectives by 2022.
Improve the graduate outcomes of the students, so that at least 50% of them secure access to employment /self-employment or engage themselves in higher education.
Train the students in real-life professional skills, educate them in the applicability aspect as well as soft skills improvising on critical thinking, communicative skill, and teamwork, leadership skill, time management, critical thinking, etc.
Further imbibing each student with human values, professional ethics, the sprite of innovation, and promote avenues to display these requisite talents.
Alongside UGC mandate NIRF of the MHRD also highlights the importance of student’s employability.
- NAAC has made it mandatory to focus on student’s employability
UGC has now made it mandatory that all HEIs to get accredited by NAAC by 2022 and it’s now 2.5 is the minimum score to get accredited by NAAC.
NAAC score is based on multiple factors, out of which one of the most important factors in student’s employability. Out of the total NAAC score, employability and related parameter contribute 17.7%, 25.5%, 26.5% & 19.5 % of the total weightage respectively for universities, open universities, affiliated colleges & autonomous colleges.
In India pursuing higher education is perceived as an investment for students and parents & society; rather than a step towards learning & acquiring knowledge. The ROI is measured in the context of value for money, i.e the fees against the package that students are receiving after their UG or PG program. While global economic downfall is growing and therefore right fit skill development with the right attitude and approach is the fundamental essence of employability index; these budding youngsters stand midriff not being able to put a step ahead.
Hence HEI’s deliberate focus on students’ employability offers the right recipe and confidence to attract and retain high-quality students.
Brand Recognition and Impact
Thoughtful focus on students’ employability and tangible outcome-based upon the modified education system has huge potential to have a positive impact on the brand of the HEIs. The synchronization among career professionals, academicians, and employers can work towards impacting positively on student’s career success. The HEI’s priorities students’ employability, is seen favorably by employers and successful such alumni base create respect on brand image and develop brand recognition value.
There is no remedy to improve employability scores instantaneously. It needs a very focused, conscious, and conscious effort so that students should fall into the eco-system and develop accordingly. On the other hand, workplace culture and demand is transforming rapidly in the 21st century. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, 65% of the kids entering primary schools now will be employed in jobs that do not exist today. Employment is shifting from a permanent commitment to being a taxi-cab relationship.
Gig-economy and Gig-employment are going to be the narrative and new normal. Surely, time ahead, students will undertake varied unconventional courses ahead of the traditional courses from different universities on the consultation of the prospects for these courses in days ahead. Online learning communities with a data-oriented, trust-based, and portable learning environment would be the future narrative.
University 4.0, would be learner-centric. To build resilience, universities have to think harder on employability aspect (outreach to the world of work), brand (positioning, communication & marketing), Online and digitalization (improving delivery efficiency through technology), develop human capital (building performance-driven organic culture through FDP & LDP), invest in products (research-oriented industry-endorsed curriculum) and set new student services standards.
The future of education looks promising guided by the universities’ 4.0 framework. Universities will need to improve upon their adaptability and agility and re-create their own paths towards this new age transformation. The choices are going to be difficult, exciting, and existential. It’s the time for the divergent recipe, It’s a time for A CHANGE.
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