Concrete Efforts Are Required To Bridge Industry-academia Gap: Pravin V Patil, CEO, MIT- World Peace University

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Pravin V Patil, Chief Executive Officer at the Centre for Industry-Academia Partnerships, MIT World Peace University, spoke about the institution and more. Excerpts:

How do you look at the present scenario of education ecosystem in India?

The present scenario of the education ecosystem in India is going through a transition and major changes are underway. These changes are being driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the new National Education Policy. Due to the pandemic, the education sector has now adapted to embrace the blended learning model driven by innovative technology. Barring a few exceptions like sports and laboratory experimentation, almost all activities of teaching and learning can now be effectively done using the online platforms. The demand for Overseas Education also seems to be reducing in the coming times due to this increase in online engagement and the high safety measures forced by the pandemic. This is how the present scenario of education ecosystem in India looks like.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education sector in a major way. What solutions do you think educational institutions can come up with?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, universities and educational institutions are coming up with solutions and coping strategies to ensure the seamless education of students. Adaptation of online platforms and conducting online classes for students using the latest technologies can help teachers and students continue their classes as per schedule. Further, assignments and tests can also be taken online through online portals making the assessment processes seamless. Libraries are also going virtual allowing online access of their knowledge resources to students and teachers.

What are you doing to stay ahead and re-visualize your institution?

At MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU), ensuring safety for all our students, teachers and staff have been our priority during this pandemic. Keeping this in mind, we have ensured that our entire admissions process for all the UG and PG courses offered go online. Our counselling team has been working round-the-clock to guide and answer student queries through the phone and instant online messaging channels such as, Whatsapp and emails. The Centre for Industry Academia Partnerships (CIAP) at the university has also strived hard to ensure that all students secure placements and internships, which have been remote working opportunities. Apart from this, the teaching staff at MIT-WPU has conducted classes, tests, assignments and exams online ensuring that the curriculum is covered within strict timelines, despite the pandemic.

In your opinion, will there be an impact on on-campus education from the changed scenario?

With India successfully coming up with a vaccine for COVID-19, it is likely to help in better transition of students to on-campus education. With institutes taking all desired precautions including continuous sanitization of premises, compulsion of masks and maintaining social distancing, it will further boost the confidence of students and parents to get back to on-campus education.

At MIT-WPU, we upgraded our on-campus facilities during the pandemic to further facilitate the social distancing norms so that students can transition back to on-campus education. However, since a lot of universities and educational institutes have already adapted to online classes, in the coming months, several institutes may follow a hybrid learning model where regular classes will continue online and students will be asked to attend the campus only for special sessions such as, laboratory experiments. In this way, students will slowly integrate back to on-campus education in the coming months.

Where according to you, are we lagging behind and what would you suggest to come at par with the education system of developed nations of the world?

Many universities and education institutes within the education ecosystem of India are lacking in ample infrastructure that will provide a quality experience to their students. The curriculum is also very theoretical in nature and is not relevant to the industry. Traditional education systems do not allow for a multidisciplinary approach in education. Research is another aspect in our education system which needs to be ingrained further.

It is also important that we take concrete efforts to bridge the industry-academia gap and prepare students to be industry-ready. A strong industry-academia connect can be established if institutes encourage students to get more hands-on experience through internships, workshops and guest lectures with industry experts. At MIT-WPU, we ensure that our curriculum is regularly updated with a strong industry feedback. This helps us bridge the industry-academia gap at MIT-WPU. We have also incorporated a multidisciplinary approach towards education by implementing a choice-based credit system, which allows students to take courses from multiple disciplines within their academic degrees ensuring they have an enriching, multidisciplinary education.

What are your strategies to cope with the impact of COVID-19 on the teaching-learning process?

At MIT-WPU, we have ensured the adaptation of online platforms and conduct online classes for students using the latest technologies, which has allowed our teachers and students to continue their classes as per schedule. Further, assignments and tests have also been assessed online through online portals making the assessment processes seamless. Our libraries were also virtual allowing online access of knowledge resources to our students and teachers. In the times to come, the digital platforms are likely to play a significant role in the teaching-learning process. Enhancing the use of digital platforms and developing effective teaching methods for them would be the key in the future.

What kind of changes were made at the policy level?

At the policy level, MIT-WPU introduced the remote teaching policy for our teachers so that they could continue teaching classes for all enrolled students following strict timelines. Post the lockdown, we also introduced and adhered to a strict social distancing policy and all necessary precautions were mandated such as, wearing masks, installing sanitizers and hand washes, keeping safety as the top priority. Infrastructure was also upgraded to help implement social distancing policies.

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