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Joint efforts: Indian institutes are pooling faculty, resources, expertise

New partnerships show a willingness to innovate and could help improve education standards, academicians say.

education Updated: Jul 04, 2018 20:34 IST
Dipanjan Sinha
Dipanjan Sinha
Hindustan Times
Student exchange programmes,Best Indian institutes,Shivaji University
(iStock)

Faculty sharing, student exchange programmes, shared infrastructure and collaborative courses — institutes in India are partnering in interesting new ways.

The idea is to pool expertise for greater benefit. “There are many institutes in this country which have specialised in certain areas and have highly qualified faculty for the same. It only makes sense that other institutes also make use of this knowledge,” says DT Shirke, pro vice-chancellor of Shivaji University, Kolhapur. “We have been running a management programme for 12 years, for instance, but we did not have the resources to teach aspects such as case writing and design writing, which are important tools in today’s business environment.”

Now, that expertise is set to come to the university via Mumbai’s SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, starting with a workshop on case-study writing in August. Also on the cards is a module on family businesses, since many of the varsity’s students come from business families.

In this way, collaborations are allowing institutes to meet evolving needs, focus on soft skills and industry-readiness.

It’s a win-win. For SPJIMR, the tie-up with Shivaji University is expected to yield a range of interesting and unusual case studies. “We believe this could be of great use not just for SPJIMR but for the entire business and business student community,” says dean Ranjan Banerjee. “There is so much to explore in terms of local challenges today but our studies still largely have a US bias.”

Other such partnerships include a tie-up between the Ambedkar Law University in Chennai and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and St Xaviers College, Ranchi and National Institute of Securities Markets, Mumbai.

“A policy enacted four years ago boosted tie-ups with foreign institutes. Now partnerships are also being formed within India, which is an important move,” says Apoorva Palkar, advisor to the state’s department of higher and technical education. “Even if we consider something like the National Institutional Ranking Framework, it is clear that such partnerships will become increasingly important where one institute uses the expertise of the other.”

The rankings, started in 2016, rate institutes on parameters like resources, research and stakeholder perception. “A good way for an institute to improve its rankings is to tie up with another institute that is strong in areas where they are weak,” Palkar says.

For Tamma S Sastry, VC of the Ambedkar Law University, the partnership with TISS also means better utilisation of resources. “We expect there to be much more faculty and student mobilisation now. Earlier, I could not host a teacher for more than a couple of days at the university, but with the agreement in place we can share faculty for much longer periods,” he says. “Considering the advances we are making in digitisation, we should also be able to share libraries and journals, which could reduce costs.”

Home ground advantage

The emergence of such partnerships is important because it shows a willingness to innovate and collaborate with the aim of improving education standards and relevance, educationists say.

“Such sharing is standard practice in the West. In India, the IITs have had some such sharing models, because of greater exposure to the benefits of such partnerships,” says Anurag Sharma, professor of physics at and former dean of IIT-Delhi. “The chief goal is always to gain experience, and this is a good way to do that. But given that most of our Indian institutes are so starved for funds, it will be a challenge to execute the plans that will involve travel of students and faculty and organising events.”

A partnership with a premier Indian institute can sometimes be more beneficial than a foreign university, adds Dhiraj Mathur, executive director for education practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers India.

“Over the last few years, the allure of studying abroad has dimmed slightly, with work visas becoming more difficult to get,” Mathur says. “The collaborations could help here, because when it comes to a social subject with local relevance, an institute like TISS has a lot more to offer anyway in terms of relevance and faculty with the right kinds of experience, than many international institutes.”

First Published: Jul 04, 2018 20:34 IST