Bennett University's Dr. Yaj Medury shares his insights and opinions on India's higher education sector and what all can be done to ensure students are in sync with the needs of job market.
Dr. Yaj Medury is Director, Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd., the flagship company of The Times of India Group, and heads the Group’s initiative into the higher education sector. He is also Vice-Chancellor Designate for the Group’s Bennett University venture.
Yaj graduated with a B.Tech (Hons) from IIT Kharagpur, and subsequently did his MS & Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA.
He has previously served as Chairman & MD with EdCIL (a Government of India enterprise) – an educational consultancy organisation, and with the Jaypee Group setting up 4 higher education campuses across India. Yaj started his employment career with the British Council, New Delhi, India overseeing Science & Technology sector projects in India funded under bilateral aid agreements.
Yaj plays an active role in key industry associations vis-à-vis the education sector such as CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM etc.
In an exclusive interview with HTCampus, Dr. Yaj Medury shares his views on Indian higher education sector...
Q. How has been your journey in the education sector so far?
A. If you had asked me in the mid-80s as to whether I would be in this area – the answer would have been an emphatic no…but with the grace of the Almighty, all has worked out well so far…from setting up institutes of higher education/polytechnics/ITIs from scratch to managing education consultancy projects overseas, conduct of entrance tests to country specific human resource developmental activities…
Q. Can you highlight some of your observations with regard to teaching in the Indian higher education sector?
A. Teaching in the higher education sector in India can be fragmented into 2 buckets – One which is very research oriented and second which is mostly vocational. What we need is a combination of the two. There is no programme which prepares students for various challenges that life will throw at them professionally after they graduate. Hence, we at Bennett have incorporated two important dimensions into each and every programme that we offer – one each course at Bennett will make students life and career ready by imparting them skills which are necessary to deal with an ambiguous life, apart from regular core courses. Second, each course will have an entrepreneurial element built into it and whether the students goes for a job or does something of his own post the programme at Bennett, he or she will be trained to think like an entrepreneur thus providing them the right tools for success in life.
Q. What according to you are the major challenges in the education sector that need to be addressed immediately?
A. The education sector in our country has different challenges at different levels. At the elementary and secondary education, there is a lack of good schools as well as teachers in the rural areas. In the higher education space, as explained above the students though are theoretically sound, but not very well prepared for the professional world. Ultimately the aim of higher education is to be able to equip them with right tools and knowledge to make informed decisions in life. There is a lack of quality education in the higher education space with respect to our population and new institutions need to focus on providing quality education. Today, as education defines the burning issues of our time, and is crucial to everything from personal opportunity to world prosperity, we hope to play our part by providing, what we hope will become a highly sought-after hub of learning where the generation of ideas benefit society, and where our graduates are valued both for their specialized knowledge as well as for their ability to research, converse and solve problems.
Q. Industry and academics should contribute equally when it comes to creating opportunities for students and make them job ready. Your opinion?
A. In my opinion, industry and academics can work together for the benefit of the students. At the higher education level, a lot of students are looking for a job post their education and both the industry and the institute should work towards making them job ready. This can be done by offering them more chances to interact with the industry to understand the nuances of working in a corporate set up. Also initiatives like live projects, internships and working on real industry problems through cases can help bridge the gap and lay a better foundation for the students. Apart from this, offering soft courses such as communication skills as a part of the curriculum will help them hit the ground running.
Q. What factors should a student keep in mind when choosing a college?
A. A student should look at faculty, course curriculum and college environment while selecting a college. Faculty and the curriculum will define what they learn in the college while the environment will define whether they enjoy that learning or not. I believe that if you choose the right college, you will enjoy and learn at the same time. In addition to these, a student should look at the infrastructure on offer by the college. Infrastructure of the college should enable the student and not be a hindrance in learning.
Q. Going overseas for higher studies has become a popular culture. How important is global exposure for students?
A. Global exposure is extremely important in this interconnected world, but you do not need to enrol in an overseas institution for the same. There are multiple ways in which an Indian institute can help you with the Global exposure. At Bennett, we have entered into a strategic partnership with Babson College to set up the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education. The partnership will result in the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education which will offer specifically targeted activities, courses, programmes aimed at all students. Babson will also assist in setting up The Hatchery, Bennett’s student start-up incubator on our campus.
In addition to the above, we also have an International Advisory Council, first meeting of which was held on 15th January, which’ll help us in keeping abreast with the global developments in higher education space. The IAC comprises of eminent professors from MIT, Emory, Fuqua, UC Berkeley, UCLA etc.
Q. Would you agree that there is a gap in graduating students’ skill set vs requirements of the industry today? How can that be abridges?
A. This gap exists and as I have explained earlier the industry and education institutions need to work together to bridge this gap. There are various corporates who have set up universities for training staff for their own requirements precisely because of this reason. Working with the industry and providing students more exposure to the industry, involving corporates to deliver some lectures at the university are some ways to bridge this gap and we are working on these areas at Bennett.
Q. What all initiatives are being taken by Bennett University to ensure that students are in sync with the needs of the job market?
A. We have started engaging with the corporates from a very early stage at Bennett. We are looking at a well-rounded curriculum comprising of industry talks, live projects, internships etc. These initiatives will help the student learn from the horse’s mouth and hence develop a better understanding. Also, we have multiple and prominent industry representatives on our various boards to help us design and deliver a programme which is in sync with the needs of the job market.
Q. What attributes should a student possess/ inculcate in order to be a successful professional?
A. In today’s corporate world, a student should be good on soft skills in addition to the core academic knowledge. At Bennett, we are inculcating the soft skills in our curriculum, in order to make the students’ life and career ready.
Q. How does Bennett University prepare students for the professional world?
A. At Bennett we impart the following as a part of our curriculum:
- Core academic excellence
- Enhancing entrepreneurial thinking
- Emphasizing soft skills to make students life and career ready
Our curriculum is designed to be innovative, industry-centric, entrepreneurial and above all, to offer a rounded educational experience. This is supported by a sprawling campus that offers an immersive and collaborative learning experience. All this will help them prepare for the professional world.
Q. Explain any 5 USPs of Bennett University.
A. At Bennett, we encourage the students to Be Different, Be Better and Be Ahead. The students will benefit from our unique five-fold approach to education:
International Academic Collaborations: Our partnerships with some of the world’s best known schools, such as Babson College, will help students gain valuable global exposure and access to the latest curriculum.
Industry-Centric Curriculum: At Bennett, we are committed to developing global, multi-cultural and multi-faceted graduates, who can operate across borders and boundaries. All this is enabled via industry experts’ talks, internships, live projects and research mandates.
National and International Faculty of Global Repute: Bennett will help the students meet the challenges of a global economy with academic guidance/mentoring from our faculty drawn from the IITs/IIMs and other national institutes of repute.
Entrepreneurial Thinking: All students of management or engineering, under graduate or post-graduate, will benefit from our focus on developing minds that take ownership and tackle tasks with fervour.
Career-Ready Education: Our practical approach to education will ensure that the students step out career-ready. Going further, we intend to leverage the Times Group’s strong connect with industry and its long-standing corporate relationships to assure you of active placement support.
Q. Please tell us more about the pedagogy followed at Bennett University.
A. At Bennett, it is our goal to offer an education that encourages innovative thinking, develops excellence and builds communication and leadership skills. We are committed to develop global, multi-cultural and multi-faceted graduates, who can operate across borders and boundaries. This is demonstrated by our curriculum and the faculty, staff, and students we are striving to attract. With a globalised economy comes opportunities and competition. At Bennett, we help you meet that challenge through a curriculum and culture that embraces continuous learning and adaptability. Our graduate programmes include Masters and Doctorate degrees, focused on innovation, management and entrepreneurship. Research within the school will transcend disciplinary and departmental boundaries, offering a unique learning opportunity for both graduate and undergraduate students. Such a collaborative culture will help develop the next generation of innovations that will impact the world. Our programmes have highly flexible curricula enabling the students to achieve their goals.
Q. Your advice to students who are looking for options in higher education?
A. Besides the institutes within the state/national ambit (such as the IITs/IIMs/NITs/etc), students of today will have to actively explore private sector established institutes – and it is this context that the credibility of the sponsoring organisation becomes very important. This I say because if an organisation has achieved credibility on account of its work in other sectors, then it is going to ensure that it does not lose its goodwill on account of not providing quality education to students.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this interview are the personal opinions of the interviewee. The facts and opinions appearing in the interview do not reflect the views of HTCampus and HTCampus does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.