Q1. Every noble achievement is a dream before it is a reality just as the oak is an acorn before it is a tree, is a popular saying. As an institution builder, kindly trace your journey from the beginning to where it is now. Also, can you brief us about the core strengths of Presidency University.
A burning desire to provide the student-community with quality then-contemporary education with the right blend of knowledge, skills and attitude, at a time when there was a dearth of good schools, drew me the realm of Education. Along with my uncle, Mr. Abdul Hameed, I commenced this epoch making journey by starting a School, in 1976, in Bengaluru. There were only 8 students. With the untimely demise of Mr. Hameed, I had to shoulder the responsibility of steering ahead and there has been no looking back since then.
Post Four and Decades, today, the Presidency Group of Institutions has under its umbrella eight schools [four affiliated to ICSE and four affiliated to CBSE], three Colleges and a University across the southern state of Karnataka. With Lacs of Students having graduated from Presidency Group-institutions, over the years, the Institutional Campuses currently are making relentless efforts at meeting the expectations of around 30,000 Students and their Parents, from across India. I am very proud that the 3000 and odd Teachers and Non-teaching Professionals, on the Rolls of the Group-constituents are committed to ensuring the a holistic development of the Students and in that directions have spared no efforts in ensuring a Sustainable Expectations-meeting Model of Operations. The highly Talented Human Capital of the Group is the single driving-force behind the success of the Presidency Group and the edifice upon which the Presidency Brand has evolved and sustained itself. My foray into University-education marks the realisation of the dream of my grandmother, The Presidency University is today acknowledged as one of the Fasted Growing Private Universities in India,, if not the world.
Q2. Moving on to the current scene in higher education, online learning is fairly a new concept in India, one that became mandatory due to the pandemic. What kind of readiness, in terms of technology, mindset etc. did you have to confront and make adjustments to make the most out of online learning? Can you also tell us about the role of Artificial Intelligence in higher education with reference to the Indian context?
The challenge posed by the pandemic was unique and not restricted to any one country or institution. Though there were initial hiccups, most of the issues were ironed out smoothly and we were able to continue providing the same standard of nuanced education, throughout the last couple of years, to our students.
Technology-driven Teaching-learning has become the very foundation of Post-epidemic Education. Though I do not subscribe to the thought that Digital Education, Blended Classroom, Hybrid Learning are products of the Pandemic. Education 4.0 was already in motion when the Pandemic hit is early 2020. But by then many of the Premier Institutions of Eminence, including Presidency Group of Institutions had invested time, money and emotions, in migrating towards higher-dimensional Teaching-learning initiatives. But, at Presidency Institutions, I must say with gratitude that the Pandemic merely accelerated the pace of the migration of the whole Modern-day learning into the Virtual Mode. Our Teachers rose up to the occasion and with the timely introduction of the T3 [Train-the-Trainer] Model, we were able to meet the un-anticipated challenges of the “New Normal” Education. Time was a constraint but there was no dearth of efforts and passion, on the part of the Institutional Leadership, Teachers, Parents or Students, alike, notwithstanding the Lockdown. . The disruption turned out to have a silver lining as everyone rose to the challenge and became better equipped to face the uncertainties of the Post-pandemic Scenario. But to my sadness I would still say, Learning is no more experiential as it was in the Pre-pandemic days.
In a vast country like India, we certainly need AI-based technologies to promote equity in education. These also have the great potential to provide personalized learning experiences in the future, to automate and make available adaptive learning for all students, mitigate learning gaps, augment learning resources, thereby improving the learning ability of students. I am sure we can look forward to exciting times ahead in the field of education.
Q3. What Activities and Programmes are offered by the University to ensure that students are ready for the industry?
Presidency University prides itself in adding, year unto year, new contemporary Programmes that are aimed at equipping Students with the Knowledge, Skills and Aptitude that are Industry-relevant. In addition the Academic Leadership ensures Upgradation of Curriculum to make them not only more relevant but also meaningful in terms of offering a holistic development of Students.
We have adopted the Choice Based Credit System where Students can choose Subjects of their interest, to study. Aligning itself to the vision of the New Education Policy, the System facilitates an Inter-disciplinary approach to Knowledge-acquisition.
Again, at Presidency University there is a thrust on developing the Soft Skills of the Students across the University. Students are exposed to the various nuances of one’s Communicative and Higher Thinking Skills to make them Industry-worthy.
Equally focussed on Experiential Learning, at Presidency University, all Students will be required to complete around 4 to 6 months of Internship and also undertake an Innovative Project.
Q4. Internships are now mandatory as per AICTE guidelines. How is the University helping students bag internships?
To be honest, from its inception in 2015, Presidency University had introduced the concept of Internship for its Students across Schools. The Internship was offered in two tranches across the Programs. The Career Services Division has developed a very strong network of Large, Mid-size and Small Organizations to which the Students are assigned on a well-structured basis. The first tranche is a 5 Credit Internship and the Final Year Internship offers 15 Credits.
The Career Services Division offers the Students continuous and effective Career Guidance, Counselling and opportunities for Professional Development and Training,, which in turn ensures that the Students graduate from the Portals of the University, fully equipped to face the challenges of the ever-dynamic Corporate World.
Q5. As an eminent educationist, are there any suggestions you would like to give to the youth of the country?
Advice is not what the youth of the country need. In my opinion the contemporary Indian youth are very tech-savvy and well-informed. What they seek from the Educationists is a sense of direction and guidance. They are ready to listen provided we are ready to explain to them in no uncertain terms what is expected to them
My only advice to this special breed of youth of India today, is to dream big. Opportunities are plenty out there. For the brave the resources are there for the take. All they need is self-belief and passion to excel. Nurture that and success is guaranteed.
There is a huge talent in this country and I want the youth of the country to think ahead, dream big and give shape to their desires and never give up in the face of adversity.