The class XII results has been declared and now students are scampering for a place in the coveted college degree course, supposedly a gateway to a secure professional future. Media publications are busy publishing pictures of elation, indifference or downright dejection of countless students across the country, depending on their ‘fate’ during the college admission procedures.
But here’s a question that must be asked: Are the students of today making smart choices? What if the traditional Plan A does not pan out?
At this point, most students who’ve just finished school are busy choosing a course and an institution. Although all students hope to get admission to the course of their choice in the institution of their choice, this is often not the case, and many students are burdened with choosing between the two. Preposterous cut-offs do not help the cause, and as a result many students are left with neither a preferred course nor a preferred institution. In addition, most Indian universities largely focus on strait-jacket and rigid programmes primarily taught via classroom instruction, with minimal opportunity for students to adapt and apply their learning in real-life or industry situations. No wonder then that the likes of IT czars Azim Premji and Narayan Murthy have been vocal about the employability of our graduates—even those coming out of premier institutions.
Smart due diligence and access to smart credit, if not direct above-average financial resources, can go a long way in helping the school-leaving student realise their dreams within India, which is brimming with opportunities and economic potential at present. Plan B, therefore, is as essential as Plan A in trying to secure the higher education of choice, as education cannot be compromised.
What’s Plan B?
What students and their support ecosystem should bear in mind while formulating Plan B is whether the course opted for is relevant and will stay relevant in the field the student plans to pursue professionally, and whether the programme and the institution providing the degree have global acceptability. Another criterion could be how that course and institution would strengthen the student’s application for a desired postgraduate course.
Some Indian institutions are constrained in these areas, especially on the curricula, while many foreign institutions provide the leverage of choosing a combination of subjects, custom-built for the needs of the present and the future. Some educationists, who have seen the benefits of changes in pedagogy, have initiated mechanisms to collaborate with reputed international universities.
Students will do well to research on the many such quality programmes available across the country today. These collaborations are manifold and can take different forms. Exchange programmes, where the students attend a part of the course in the affiliated foreign institution, are quite popular. Another model is where institutions train students in accordance with international standards before admitting them into the foreign institution. In such approaches, the piecemeal aspect is evident.
A more robust methodology that can be expected to yield better results is one where reputed international institutions engage deeply with Indian institutions on the academic front and train their faculty members regularly. This leads to capacity building in India, raising the quality of skilled professionals who can then profess, teach, facilitate and mentor students to international standards in India. Thankfully, this approach is also available to students in India today. For instance, University of London offers undergraduate degree programmes for students in India, with academic direction being provided by the London School of Economics and Political Science. These courses blend traditional and modern pedagogy and train students through an application-based curriculum, making them industry-ready.
For students who would have liked to opt for a BA (Hons) degree in Economics in Delhi University (DU), University of London offers a BSc (Hons) degree in Economics, which is applied, taught with new-age pedagogy in India, and represents the highest international academic standards. For students dreaming to secure a B.Com (Hons) degree from DU, the BSc (Hons) degree in Accounting and Finance could be a smart choice, which not only provides a peerless grounding in the subjects, but also helps students gain several exemptions for international professional accountancy programmes. For students opting for a BA (Honors) English Literature at DU, a similar course from Duke University of North Carolina is on offer. Similarly, students wishing to pursue BA (Honors) in Journalism from DU also have the option of such a degree from the Domus Academy of Italy. Students who want to do a Bachelors of Business Administration can consider the business and management digital course offered by University of London in India.
Similar course structures with different formats are also available for universities in the US, Australia and New Zealand, among other countries. Many Indian universities have formulated associations with foreign universities to either offer international courses or undertake exchange programmes. This prepares students well for further studies and the competitive global labour market.
Global firms, whose footprint is increasing every day in the Indian economy, are seen to prefer students with an international mindset who have studied a globally renowned programme. Having gone through a system of application-oriented learning, such students could prove better human resource investments for firms as they are better able to adapt their skills and knowledge across geographies and business functions.
So students need not fear if that coveted DU seat does not come their way. They no longer need to rely on ‘fate’ and can instead take their destiny in their own hands by exploring options within the country that can give them an edge locally and globally.
Jitin Chadha is founder and director of the Indian School of Business and Finance.
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