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Replicating UK's Education Structure In Indian Academic Institutions

Dr.Neil McLean, LSE, Director, Academic & Professional Development Division discusses issues relating to Higher Education in India

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Q. Given your experience with Indian students who study at UoL/LSE, what is your view on the standard of teaching in Higher Education in India and what aspects need to be addressed for improvement?


I work with the academic staff at ISBF and LSE and I think that clearly, they’re quite different in the institutional context but the discussions that we have about how to design and deliver teaching are basically the same. Both institutions focus on social science education. So, it is all about developing streams of understanding human behavior in particular areas of Business, Management, Finance, and Economics. The education students receive at ISBF leading to the exams at UoL is very similar to the experience that the LSE students get leading to the internal exams at LSE, which are equivalent to the exams at UoL. I think we can all keep improving. I would not pick out particular differences between the two settings. As individual academics, we always need to focus on the things we do less and try and do all the things we do, better. Something we’re doing a lot in the UK is research-based education and getting students to complete research type tasks as a way of understanding knowledge creation and complexity and I can see that kind of approach can be seen at ISBF here and we’re talking about how that develops and so on.       


Q. What is the agenda for the Teachers’ Training under the NAIP and its relevance for Indian students (academia) in general and ISBF in particular?


Like I say, the courses in the University of London that are taught at ISBF, are written at LSE and delivered internally in very similar ways and the exams at the end are commensurate. They’re slightly different papers but the level is the same. So, the training that we offer, both at LSE and here in ISBF, is about how do we prepare students to think in ways that are appropriate to an Economics degree, to a Business & Finance degree and so on. And, how do we create the tasks and environment in which students work hard and learn well? So, we’re looking at student learning and how that comes together. We’re looking at task-based and problem-based learning methods, we’re looking at giving feedback on students’ work so that their performance and subsequent tasks get better. We’re looking at different kinds of teaching, lecturing in complement to more interactive kind, seminar-type teaching. Those are the areas we look out for, both with new faculty at LSE and with existing faculty at LSE and with the staff here at ISBF.


Q. What is the difference between the NAIP EMFSS module conducted in LSE and the one conducted here at ISBF?


The way we do training is that we talk about certain principles or approaches and then we ask participants to apply those principles or approaches to the actual teaching situation. We get them to bring their course materials, we get them to think about their disciplinary background and come out of the training with initial plans for how they’re going to teach in the coming year. In both institutions, we’re doing the same thing, and it’s just the teaching situation in ISBF looks the way it does and the one at LSE looks the way it does, both at the institutional level but also at the discipline and then the program level. The principles are the same, but there are differences in application because students differ and the context is different.


Q. What, according to you, would be the avenues that teachers in Higher Education in India should focus on in order to improve the skill elements of the student community?


As I’ve said, that students are actively challenged to complete research type tasks is really important. I think The second thing is that students work collaboratively with other students and learn the kind of skills that they will need in the workplace, is also really important. I know that there can be doubts among students about working in groups rather than as individuals but actually, it’s very important that during their time as undergraduates they learn to be effective members of teams. I think also, it’s really important, and ISBF does this really well, to link the study that students undertake to the commercial environment that they’re going into so that study is also about employability and one of the aspects in that is collaboration but developing analytical skills, communication skills, is really very important and that is something that is taken very seriously by its staff at ISBF.    


Q. What are the crucial inputs which can be availed by Indian teachers in Higher Education from modules contained in the NAIP training?


Anyone involved in teaching is in a good place to understand learning. That is a principle that we set and behaviors that we’ve talked a lot about in here and we talk a lot about in LSE. There are principles of the design of education that apply on a sort of disciplinary level and obviously ISBF and LSE are engaged in Social Science education and so there’s focus on how do you design educational experience so that students get theoretical and practical and applied knowledge and they get awareness of theory and procedural knowledge that is applied to either technical understanding of discipline or business & commercial practice. I think also principles that we look at are around communication with students, how to encourage students to listen, how to encourage students to change certain ways that they understand the tasks they complete. We look quite a bit at feedback and communication and that needs to take place in the context of Social Science and that’s quite similar to what we do at LSE and ISBF.


 


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