“… and change it into success, in future,” Dr. T. A. Shiware, Chairman – Principals’ Association, University of Mumbai, advises students in an interview with Shraddha Kamdar
I messaged him on a holiday requesting him for an appointment for this interview. Within minutes I had this interview. Warm and patient, he took the time out of a busy schedule of ringing phones and visitors to answer all my questions regarding student development in college. He has headed a college for many years as the principal and then as the dean, so he should know what it takes to encourage students on campus. Some excerpts from an interview with Dr. T. A. Shiware, Chairman – Principals’ Association, University of Mumbai.
What are the needs of a dynamic syllabus today?
The syllabus is now changed to make it project-based, since to develop certain skills, project work is needed. The practical experience will offer learning experiences to students beyond taking the exams. All the self-financing courses now have this option. In fact, for framing the new syllabus, inputs have also been drawn from the industry experts with respect to what they expect graduates to know. This has resulted in several special courses being offered like BCom in Transport Management and BCom in Investment Management. Advanced courses in subject like Travel and Tourism, Estate Management and so on have also come up.
Along with the changes in the syllabus, what can teachers do to motivate students to attend college?
The methodology of teaching matters a lot. Today, students are really savvy and they already know how to get information. Teachers should design their classes in such a way that they do not pass on only information, but add value to that information and guide the students on how to use it to their advantage in the professional world. They should use case studies and real world examples to generate interest and push the students to think, rather than give everything readymade.
Even then, we see that students are drawn towards coaching classes. What is your view on that?
Well, coaching classes are popular because they help the students only in passing. The classes are not helpful in any other way. For all round development, learning other skills, gathering knowledge, participating in activities and seminars, learning from peers and interacting with different classmates, students need to come to college. If they want to take up coaching classes they should do so on their own time, after college hours. If you see, in most colleges, the senior college BCom lectures end latest by 11 am. Students are free to pursue anything they want after that.
Should students who are pursuing professional studies along with graduation be allowed some attendance relaxation?
Usually, I know that students prefer to pursue professional courses like chartered accountancy, cost and works accounting or company secretaryship along with their BCom graduate degree. I would say that it is a good thing, since knowledge can be gained even in the study like this. Students are after all, learning a lot with these professional courses, and they are pursuing these for making their careers, which is the goal in the first place. May be colleges can offer some relaxation in attendance to these students, but this liberty cannot be taken for granted. Students should genuinely be pursuing the courses, and then going for learning or articleship or internship. Also, one must keep in mind what I already mentioned before. The college lectures usually end by 11 am for commerce students, so they should look at going for artcileship only after the lecture timings.
What are some of the skills that students learn through the activities in college?
They learn so many skills especially management. The students handle all the aspects of the event, so they learn how a team works and how competition can be good and bad. A person will learn how to adjust within a team. Most importantly, the students will learn how to face failure in life and how to overcome it, and change it in the future into success. That is essential, as it helps to slowly change the mindsets of the students towards positivity.
Students are also looking for scoring marks, that’s why they go to coaching classes, right? Should marks be given so much importance?
Yes, marks are important. I agree, a lot depends on the marks scored by the students, but they are not the whole and sole of life. I have always had a thought in my head. That one should take a look at the state board and university rankers (in terms of marks) and see after a few years what they are doing and how successful they are. That way, we can establish whether the connection between marks and success is strong or not. In fact, those students who start business, establish their careers after landing a job, those are considered successful no matter what marks they scored. That’s why a balance is needed.
My advice to students is that they should acquire as much knowledge as they can during the college years, and develop their inner talents with respect to whatever they are interested in. There are many value added courses on offer for students in their colleges, which they should pursue.
For this, I would also like to urge the parents to stop pressurising their children to get into a particular college because other students are going there. Parents should look at the interest, ability and the aptitude of the students before they pressurise them to do anything. If the students are pressurised, they will be depressed in future life. I would say parents should encourage their children to take up hobbies so that they shine in their lives.
What are your views on developing like skills in college – like communication and team work for instance?
These skills are certainly needed for the students. The students should have the ability to articulate their knowledge at the right time. They should be able to communicate the right things at the right time, especially in the situation of an interview. Students should be made aware of these skills during their college years and empowered to use them well in future as well. Guest lectures from those already working in the industry really help students to understand how to face interviews and understand the work culture outside of the classrooms.
What is the scope for fresh graduate in arts, science and commerce to be placed in jobs immediately after graduation?
Well, the trend is picking up that students are starting to work young. BCom students are being offered jobs immediately after graduation. Students of the self financing courses like BAF, BBI, BMS, BMM and so on are also getting offers for jobs. The industry outlook has changed, and wants performing candidates. So employers they do not mind hiring fresh graduates and using some time to train them according to the organisation’s standards so that they fit in. That way, they also get the opportunity to learn on the job.
For BA and BSc students even is the scope is limited, they are specialised in their subjects, and they can better themselves with further education, after which they can opt for working in the industry.