Interview

India is now focusing on quality of education to accelerate long term growth

Q: How do you look at the change in management education in India? How has the focus shifted?

A: From the past few years, there have been many changes in the Education System of India. Initially it was more of “theoretical studies”, and now, every college emphasises more on “Case Studies”. In our opinion, we would give thumbs up for this change because we believe that the case study provides action orientation to an otherwise academic exercise.

There has been a subtle but important shift in Indian Education with the advent of digital platforms and social media.  The creation of more flexible and responsive learning environment has been a key development priority. The focus therefore, and rightly so, is shifting from Teacher-oriented to Learner-oriented. The material and mentors are available out there; it is up to the learner to access the same. B-Schools can play a role there by creating opportunities for such access. At XISS, we focus on bringing practitioners and students together through various platforms viz. Rural exposure camps, Industrial Visits, Lecture series. We encourage our students to stay connected with Alumni and Industry through Social Media as well. Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp accounts are not only encouraged but also facilitated.

India is now focusing on quality of education to accelerate long term growth. India has been among the fastest growing economies in the world in the last decade. A high quality education system is a pre-requisite for our country to achieve global excellence.

Let us be honest however, some of the shift in education system has been for the worse. We strongly feel that it is not good to produce only profit oriented managers without a concern for society. We believe that at any point of time, if our managers have to drop one between the strategy and character, he/she should drop strategy rather than character. At XISS, we focus on holistic development based on the pillars of social justice, equity and concern for your fellow human being. This we believe is important to create a positive society and is an absolute imperative for the future of the human race.

Q: How strong is a strong Alumni network? What your institution is doing in this regard?

A: Alumni are the brand ambassadors of any institution. Their performance in the field of their choice becomes an inspiration for the students who join to follow the track. It is important also to see, how the alumni connect is tracked and perpetuated with the key performers. For instance in the institutions and colleges in the United States, the alumni are tracked very diligently and the bonding with them is created with regular events where they are invited to participate. It is not too uncommon to find that many alumni chapters taking up social issues and bring people around so that substantial change is brought about. For instance, the Jesuit alumnus all over the world joins blood donation campaign or drives to protect the environment. The ideology behind this is promoting a sense of giving back to society, from which we all receive so much.

Our alumnus are scattered in various parts of India therefore, XISS organizes its alumni meet each year in the month of October is all Metro as well as other important cities of India. This meet is planned for 10th October this year at Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Jamshedpur. The current students also join this meet thereby furthering the concept called “Learning from Practitioners.” 

As XISS marks the completion of its 60 glorious years this year, we are organising a mega alumni meet named “Confluence 2015” on 6th and 7th November 2015, where we intend to see almost 2000 people reaffirm the ideals on which XISS was established.

This meet is going to be of significance because this is the only event of XISS happening this year in which alumnus of all the departments are coming together to discuss the future of not just XISS but also of the very ecosystem we live in.

As a consequence of the deliberations in this meet, we will come out with 5 whitepapers on – XISS Vision 2030, Talent Landscape 2030, Sustainable Development, Digital India and Economics of Inclusive Growth. 

Q: How to create a healthy atmosphere among all departments?

A: XISS has always stood up against discrimination. It believes that all the students belong to the Jesuit Family, and no discrimination should fall upon them on the basis of cast, creed, gender or department.

Annual event of XISS like Panache is organized by the student committee of XISS. The student committee consists of students coming from all the five departments, thus creating a healthy relationship.

Even our Alumni events are cross department to foster the spirit of camaraderie.

Q: Kindly tell us about student exchange programme of all the departments?

A: Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi for the last two years has been successfully participating in the Student Exchange Programme with the University of Antwerp, Belgium. This year too, the institute in collaboration with the University of Antwerp has been able to secure funding for participation of four students in one module of Human Rights for Development HR4DEV2015 course (16-28 August 2015).

This year five law students from the University of Antwerp, Belgium are here to do their dissertation and internship. As a part of their exposure, they also went for urban field work exposure to urban slums with rural management students of XISS and participated in Independence Day celebrations. The exchange programme is coordinated by Father Alex Ekka and Dr. Anant Kumar.

Q: How technology is changing higher education?

A: College and universities worldwide face a far different landscape than they did a generation ago. Globalization has highlighted the demand for highly skilled and highly knowledgeable workers. For many countries, globalization is opening up economic opportunities that were unimaginable in the past. Another important element in today’s academic landscape is technology. Improved and more widely available communications and information technology has not only fostered the globalization of the economy, it is changing the way that education is delivered. Students can now learn through self placed or real-time online courses.  They collaborate online on special projects, and they meet with instructors during virtual working hours. Even in a traditional classroom environment, instructors often take a blended approach, incorporating technology into their lectures, class assignments and interaction with students.

Technical innovations in learning are driven in part by the expectations of a generation of students well versed in the uses and benefits of technology. Attracting, retaining and engaging the students require that colleges and universities stay up to date.

Q: Can online education fill the quality gap in education?

A: There’s a normal saying, “You learn everyday” which we believe is definitely true. No doubt that the present generation is tech savvy, but it is also not true that the past generation can’t cope up with it. Technology is vast and its methods are even vaster. The fundamentals of online learning have become so advanced yet so easy that anyone can get a hand on it. It’s just like switching from Java phone to an android phone.

However, a lot of online education is also self initiated and there the challenge is ensuring that what you access is of good quality, because there is a lot of information out there and not all of it is of quality.

Q: Kindly tell us about some of the new initiatives taken by the institute?

A: XISS continues to partner with relevant stakeholders to bring lasting change to society in line with the credo “Putting the last first”. We have increased our focus on areas that improve self reliance.

We instituted the Diamond Jubilee Lecture Series to bring students and faculty closer to real issues in real world.

We are also partnering with our Alumni to script our vision for 2030. A vision that will shape not just the future of XISS but hopefully also of all the people whose lives we directly and indirectly touch. 

Various other initiatives are starting mentorship programs for students by faculty members as well as by alumni working in industry, initiatives to connect with alumni via www.xiss.almaconnect.com, adopting digital marketing strategies etc. 

Q: What are your future plans for the institute?

A: XISS hopes to connect with all its stakeholders and script a Vision for XISS for the year 2030, something akin to a concept called “from Diamond to Platinum.” The new Vision will enable the institute to do what it does best – create a difference, remove inequity and bring lasting change.

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