Academic seminars now a regular feature, as Mumbai colleges look to improve ratings

To shore up credentials, colleges team up with reputable research institutes, trade groups and university departments to organise events

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2018 12:08 IST
Musab Qazi
Musab Qazi
Hindustan Times
An international seminar was recently organised at AE Kalsekar college in Nalla Sopara. (HT photo )

Once limited to university departments, academic conferences and seminars, where academicians present their research in front of their peers, are now being regularly held in city colleges.

The events have become much more frequent in the last few years after National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC), the body which grades colleges, started considering them as a parameter of a college’s performance. For teachers, the papers presented in a conference are published in a research journal, earning them coveted academic performance indicator (API) points that help them in securing promotions.

“Seminar and conferences are part of quality assurance measures taken by colleges. The national and international conferences also bring some repute and a name to the organising college said Anjum Ara Ahmed, a teacher at Rizvi Collge, Bandra, who helped the college organise many such events when she was the vice-principal.

To shore up their credentials, the colleges team up with reputed research institutes, trade organisations and university departments to organise these events. For example, MD College in Parel a few months ago held a conference on the applications of radioactive energy, in collaboration with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Around 12 scientists from BARC conducted theory and practical sessions, which were attended by around 200 students and faculty members from 18 colleges in the city.

Last month, AE Kalsekar College of Commerce and Management last month collaborated with Pune-based Indo Global Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture to hold an ‘International Conference on Commerce, Banking, Economic, Management, Law, Social Science and Environmental Concerns. This conference was also attended around 200 academicians, including a few foreign delegates.

The seminars are usually held around a single theme, often to address some of the critical issues faced by the society. A case in point is a conference on ‘Issues, Challenges and Remedies in Global Higher Education with reference to Employability’ being organised by MVM Degree College, Andheri, this week.

Explaining the objective of the conference,Gopal Kalkoti, principal of the college, said, “There are around 700 universities across the country, including 44 in Maharashtra. But these institutions are doing very little besides churning out graduates every year. This conference seeks to find out how the students can be made suitably employable.” He adds that the research papers presented during the event will be compiled and presented to policymakers.

The college teachers who attended these conferences said that besides enhancing API scores, these conferences also help them enhance their knowledge and are useful for their profession. “Suddenly, the teaching becomes very easy for us. We are able to explain various concepts very lucidly to students. The colleges usually hold pre-conference workshop, so that all faculty members come prepared with papers and articles.

However, some academicians are sceptical about the efficacy of these seminars and conferences. “While some conferences are held out of academic interest, most of the colleges are concerned about getting the research published in one of the International Scientific Indexing (ISI) numbered journals. The research work isn’t strong,” said Neeraj Hatekar, a professor at the University of Mumbai’s School of Economics and Public Policy.

Another teacher, who didn’t wish to be named, called the conferences “superficial”. “There’s not much being done to guide the teachers how to deliver lectures in classrooms,” he said.

First Published: Feb 11, 2018 23:40 IST