Reengineering the present day curriculum in various subject fields is being discussed widely in the educational world all over as one of the most imperative issues which needs immediate attention. All of us are well aware of the fact that business education gaining more importance in the present day scenario as the admission statistics shows it being one of the most sought after streams in colleges. This is main reason for it can be assigned to the change in business equations and more and more people choosing to be entrepreneurs so as to fit into the dwindling employment opportunities globally.
Globalization & fast changing economic climate in our world made a huge market for business professionals. The ever growing competition in the field always welcome smart professionals who are adaptable to the changes and are fast in decision making. Therefore, we, the faculty of commerce and management must now start reviewing the curriculum of our business courses with an immediate urgency. Is the current curriculum strong enough to equip our students to satisfy their prospective employees? If not, how we can help in developing an integrative and flexible business curricula. These are some of the points to ponder upon and to put in some productive change, now.
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As we all know that the change in curriculum is the need of the day. The transformation is, infact expected by the academic sector, business world, professionals etc. Most of the under graduate subjects taught now, follow out- dated syllabus which had been developed years ago to suit the needs of a less demanding world.
The flexibility of the American education system is its greatest strength and also its greatest weakness. Students can choose among a host of classes and courses in high school and college. This means they can change their major (i.e. field of study) midway through college. This usually means that students in the US receive more exposure to a variety of subjects and hence, are more aware of their career options and opportunities. However, the downside is that they can avoid taking courses which are hard in their major. The computer science students in the US are often criticized for avoiding a lot of important computer science courses by taking easier courses from other departments that fulfill their degree requirements.
The situation is not improving either! People kick and scream about the fact that immigrants are taking over the country and the hi-tech jobs, but very few people are examining the reasons why this is happening. Most people are fiercely defensive about the country and refuse to believe that anything can be wrong with the country's education system since they are the technology leaders. However, nobody realizes or admits that this, to a great extent, is due to brain inflow of immigrants.
The quality of tertiary education in India was lowest among the other emerging nations. It score points on scale of 2, was 0.1. The gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education was least in India with only 11 per cent enrolments taking place. Russia was the top performer with the percentage as high as 70 per cent. The other developing countries could also not match the Russian standards, where the enrolment ratio ranged between 21.5 per cent (Mexico) to 12.7 per cent (China).
Present day scenario
The Indian education and social systems are very hard on kids and completely ignore their feelings, opinions and ambitions. Kids are pushed to study from the age of 3 and non-performers are treated as dolts and ostracized by parents and society. The preferred choice of learning and teaching is memorizing facts. These facts do help in the long run; the multiplication tables we learned in elementary school keep us ahead of our American peers who need a calculator to find out what 6 times 7 is ! However, the memorization approach to study does not allow and teach kids to think independently. The American school system lays stress on individual ability development and encourages kids to express themselves and their opinions from an early age. As a result, most Americans are way better at getting their point across as compared to people from other countries.
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However, again, the downside of this is that students in the US who are more out-spoken do well in class and outside class too only because they are more effective speakers. In the Indian system, individuals are not asked to stand up in front of the whole class and recite something. Instead, the whole class reads books out aloud together in unison. This allows more timid students to participate and overcome their fear of public speaking (since they are actually speaking with a group). Individual speaking is only done with the teacher one-on-one during "oral" examinations, where students are asked questions on the subject matter. Both systems work, however, in the Indian system, just because you can't speak well, does not mean you don't do well in class. But students in the US build more self-confidence and are much better at public speaking. Indian students on the other hand find it hard to learn to speak up or express their opinions (I know those are really broad generalizations). Classroom discussion and asking questions to the professors is encouraged. However, in India, professors expect you to treat them like God and often use their almost dictatorial powers against students who upset them in some way.
On a different note, another observation I made, while I was a teaching (3rd-4th Semesters) class of undergraduates, is that their focus in class and attitude towards the course was completely exam-oriented (of course, there were some highly motivated and intelligent students too). They constantly wanted to know if what was being discussed would be on the final. Almost no one in the class was attempting to understand concepts. They wanted to learn to solve all the kinds of problems that may appear in the exam. One may argue that this is a natural thing for students to want. But the fact of the matter is that the American college education system is industry-oriented and hence, is structured so that it produces people who can do a certain type of job efficiently. So it is like a custom-design factory which produces engineers/workers who can do one or two jobs very well but require massive retraining if they have to do something new. In contrast, the education in India (and Europe) is more towards teaching the basic concepts and a broader mass of information. The products of this education system are therefore capable of taking up several different types of jobs and are not masters of any single job. To do any single job well, they have to go through some amount of training at work.
Another realization that my colleagues and myself made was that the students wanted to be "spoon-fed" and told exactly what they needed to do, in order to do well in the course. This mentality of always being told to read something, do some assignment and essentially, being given goal-oriented tasks to perform, works great when students are being trained to work in the industry. And this is an admirable goal - America is built on the strength of these students who can perform what they have been told to do. However, in the long run, these people are not able to adapt quickly to changes in the industry. And they are definitely not prepared to go to graduate school (for a master's or a Ph. D).
SCULPTING A GLOBAL GRADUATE
India's growth in recent years has been led by the services sector. The most noticeable aspect has been the recent big boom in the BPO/KPO sector. This off-shoring trend is certain to continue and India faces the challenge of generating an appropriate supply response to retain its existing advantage. It should be noted that Indian's spend nearly $4 billion annually to send their children abroad for higher studies and technical training while there is no reason for India not emerging as a global hub for higher education and technical training. The real challenge therefore, is to expand capacities in higher education to keep ahead of the curve of rising domestic and global demand.
Information technology developed fast and our changed life style should be taken into consideration while advocating changes in the curriculum. The modern man deals with latest technology and is quite aware of the latest developments like e-marketing, online banking etc. So the next generation commerce graduates should be equipped with modern business know-how. Dr. Narasimha Rao, Dean of Central Oklahoma University recently mentioned on a visit to our college, we should work towards producing 'Global Graduates'.
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By Global Graduate we mean one who can readily adapt to the changes in the business world. At present we know our business schools are not fully prepared to accommodate all these changes. This is one of the main reasons for our students looking westward when it comes to the choice of a good college to continue their graduate/post graduate degree programs. Most of our under graduates should contribute to on national productivity. Once they go for further studies they are getting a chance of varied strata of specializations internationally, they continue to look for related occupations and settle there. This pattern should get a total revamp. There is an urgent need for such a curriculum, which is totally self sustaining and allows the student to interact with all the related problems he might face, in future as an employee, is clear now. In short I would like to say, an interdisciplinary approach is the need of the day.
THE NEW ECONOMIC ORDER & THE ROLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Two parallel developments in the world economy are worth noting, especially for their influence on provisioning of higher education: the growth of the Internet and consequently, e-education and second, the expanding role of World Trade Organization (WTO) in determining the trends in world economics.
INTERNET IN EDUCATION
Never before was information so readily available at the press of a button, the Internet has changed the way the world behaves, does business, and thinks. Even school children search the web for study material to support their homework.
Today, academicians do not need to spend much time on library research poring over bulky tomes and taking copious notes. They have the facility of faster and surer access to a much wider range of information through the Internet, not just to read but to print or save or forward to others as might suit their purpose. . Internet research has come to be recognized as an essential study tool in all higher education courses in developed countries.
While a traditional Western university still has face-to-face lectures, it also offers on-line courses especially during the summer break. While such courses have the obvious disadvantage of the absence of personal interaction, they allow for discussion through setting up of chat rooms. Such on-line courses and discussions have often proved to be more rewarding than regular classroom interactions as they allow for students and teachers from different parts of the world to converge.
The world economy is being structured in such a manner all trade activities conducted in various parts of the world is being controlled by diverse trade and commerce agreements like ASEAN and EU or the famed GATT agreement etc. Hence commerce & business process is becoming a lot easier although a lot more complicated as the bulk of such activities is growing day by day. As future professionals our students are to be modeled in such a way that they should be easily adaptable to these sophisticated and redefined trends.
As we all are aware, presently our business studies mainly concentrate on the traditional concepts, like all other subjects. But a few changes are also taking place. Subjects like IBE which forms a part of undergraduate study gives our students, a chance to update themselves with latest developments in the field of trade & commerce. Such subjects which deal with the international developments and their impacts on the ever growing global economy are quintessential example of a progressive inclusion to curricular change.
India, with its fast growing economy is getting ready to take up as the key player of economic activities in the near future. Therefore it is only commonsensical to produce a well equipped work force which can guide Indian economy through competitive economic independence and global interdependence.
'SFGC PATTERN' AT A GLIMPSE
Being an institution which is training more than 1500 undergraduates of business stream every year, we have adopted a number of parallel training methods which can help our students to adapt easily to various future roles they take up. First and for most among them, is conducting different workshops in Time Management, Career Guidance etc. This helps the students to develop an outlook which is more task oriented. These workshops will give them a chance to think about the purpose of their curriculum. Such programmes will also force the students to rekindle their interest in their studies from time to time. We have included Personality Development as a topic in the business syllabus, as we felt it would help our students who are mostly from rural backgrounds to blend themselves effortlessly into the corporate culture. We also introduced US Taxation as a topic to prepare our students for vacancies in the ever-growing BPO sector and also for assignments abroad.
A Management Forum is formed to conduct various programmes which are aimed at developing management traits in students. This forum basically functions as a bridge linking existing curriculum with the latest development trends in the business world. It aims at the developments of both BBM & B.Com students. Form conducts competitions like Product Launch, Case studies, Group Discussions, Chart and Model Making.
Model Product Launches are conducted frequently in such a way so as to give them a real life experience of a company launching their new product and give an idea of its background preparations. The Case Study method encourages and stimulates the research viewpoint in a student. Group Discussions equip them with more courage and self confidence to put forward their point of views before a group. The Chart and model making activity increases their creativity while Business Quizzes increase their General Knowledge.
We felt it was time our students should also actively participate in the seminars and other management competitions outside their respective campuses. Most of them emerge winners in the competitions, with the little support and encouragement we provide from our institution.
In addition to the above in-house support from the institution we are now going forward with plans of crossing the borders to expand our campus for the benefit of our students. We have already tied up with the Oklahoma Central University. We expect this international friendship will enrich the knowledge of both our faculty as well as our students. Under this tie-up we have schemes like students exchange, facility to complete a semester abroad, faculty exchange etc. All these are aimed at globalizing our syllabus through the swap over of ideas with an international counterpart. Visiting another campus and getting aware of their syllabus which is also business oriented, can give an insight of latest global trends and cater to international demands.
Already research study had become a part of the undergraduate business curriculum. It is helping them to understand the various aspects of business. Recent developments like the severe economic recession, global retrenchment, etc are also to become a part of our study through the planned syllabus revision by the university.
The constant and standardized effort by our management to upgrade our institution's rank among the echelons of similar institutions has borne positive fruits by the recent accreditation up-gradation by NAAC. The accreditation process aims at making the current system more students oriented. It also aims at more interactive methods of teaching and faculty involvement in the system. Tutorials for the weaker students, bridge classes to increase competency, mentoring, faculty development programs, infrastructure support etc. are some among them. I am sure all these will positively help in leading the path to develop more technically efficient business graduates for our society.
Faculty plays an eminent and key role in all these changes. He/She should be torch bearers for this change by providing their whole hearted support for this change in the system. They should persuade and encourage the students to reach their maximum potential with their incredible influence, continual input and through the proper channeling of the curriculum. As they say "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." Therefore we are trying to be the inspirational teachers who can cultivate the spirit of research and development in the students while observing the business environment vigilantly.
Equip the students on latest developments and the Globalization trends in our economy by introducing case studies, faculty exchange etc
The renewed curriculum must make them aware of the multicultural atmosphere of current business scenario and therefore we need to include more international and modern topics.
Give them more opportunity for personality development so that they can present themselves as confident individuals packed with professionalism.
Obtain suggestions and views from successful alumni from our institutions, which can be a vital help while taking a decision about the change in curriculum.
Encourage kids to express themselves and their opinions from an early age.
The needs of our society in which we are living-in, require a complete refurbishing or alteration of our curricular design to suit the latest global trends. The concept of job and the corresponding working environment has totally undergone changes. Most companies are Multi - Nationals. Their requirement is not the same as those companies which aim consumers of one country or to be precise they are no longer just aiming the Indian consumer psyche. A fresher from our universities are poorly equipped with outdated armaments to dual with the needs of the ever changing global economy. The world economy is giving positive signals to developing Asian economies like INDIA. This actually gives a great opportunity to our future business graduates. That itself invites quite a stimulating and exhilarating contemplation, for curricular redesigning. Isn't it?