Sitting in the trading room, Vivek Raj Shah is tense as he watches the rupee slide and adjusts his portfolio in the stock market.
Yet Shah is only a college student, as are the others gathered in the room.
The trading floor is actually on the Universal Business School (UBS) campus in Mumbai and has been set up for its financial management students.
“The round-the-clock trading room allows students to experience real-life trading,” says Tarun Anand, co-founder of the B-school, “They build their portfolios and see actual market movement across 5 continents.”
UBS also recently tied up with a UK university to award MBA degrees to its students. Such initiatives have led to a three-fold increase in the number of students at the business school, says Anand.
But UBS is not alone.
Private educational institutes are experimenting and repackaging themselves to woo students in an attempt to stay afloat amid stiff competition.
“Colleges have to re-invent themselves, or they will perish. Students have become smarter. The age of an institution is no longer a yardstick for them. Rather, they pick institutes that offer them something new and provide international exposure” says Naveen Chopra, who runs a global education company.
Take Manipal University, for instance.
“We are starting innovative courses like an MSc in exercise and sports science,” says university registrar Gopalakrishna Prabhu.
“As part of this course, students will study for one year at the Manipal University campus and the next at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.”
He says the university constantly experiments. For example, it allows engineering students to pick electives from different streams like humanities, management and European studies.
Then there is Lovely Professional University (LPU) at Jalandhar, which allows students to start their own business on campus.
“Students float business ideas and we assist in the execution of the top three plans. We provide office cubicles and shops on campus at subsidised rates,” says Saurabh Lakhanpal, deputy dean (student affairs), LPU.
Ravinder Singh, a student at LPU who wants to enter the catering business, recently op-ened a kulcha shop on campus.
“This opportunity has helped me understand how a business set-up works,” he says.
He has already hired a manager, cashier and two others to run the shop.
Moreover, students are allowed to take up jobs on campus. “More than 200 students have already enrolled for our Earn While You Learn programme, and most earn between Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,000 per month,” says Lakhanpal.
“The positions cover a wide range, such as library assistants, entry operators and physiotherapists.”
Other institutes are experimenting with cross-course programs while others are tying up with foreign counterparts to provide students with year-abroad programs or international faculty.