Dr. P Shyama Raju
Chancellor – Reva University, Bengaluru
Q From building infrastructure to building human resources… what was it that made you shift gears and change directions?
REVA University was established with a core mission to ‘give back to the society and empower more young individuals through the powerful tool of education. It was the dream of Smt. Late Rukmini Shyama Raju to see more students learned and she fiercely believed education is the pathway to create a better society. Driven by our founding philosophy ‘Knowledge is Power’, REVA University has been continuously striving to provide quality education to students since 2013.
Today, after nearly two decades in the education sector, I am overwhelmed with our growth and the mammoth success REVA has seen in a short period of time. Although we still have a long way to go, and our vision is to become the top university in India that offers academic excellence on par with international universities, we are working every day towards achieving this goal.
Our efforts in strengthening our student community, the panel of faculty with excellent academic records, industry and international collaborations and partnerships with reputed international organizations who visit us for placements are steered towards making REVA one of the best universities in the country.
Q What are the two most endearing features of NEP 2020?
The National Education Policy 2020 envisions to transform the Indian education landscape. Many suggestions in the policy are revolutionary and reimagine the way conventional learning is pursued in India. However, in my personal observation, two most welcome features of NEP are:
Thrust upon quality academic research – Quality research at private universities should get a boost and I am happy to know NEP is formulated in this regard.
Making India a knowledge hub for both national and international students – It is time international universities and foreign students consider India as the knowledge hub for quality education. In a way how our students look at foreign universities with admiration and big hopes, Indian universities too should garner equal admiration. Our vision at REVA University is to make REVA one of the top universities in India that’s on a par with international universities.
Q What do you think needs a rethink or an amendment in the recommendations of NEP 2020?
My recommendation would be setup a redressal forum to audit the results post implementing NEP, to discuss the hurdles, and recommend suggestions for other universities to emulate. The forum will be essential to play the role of a messenger between universities, state government bodies, and the Central government. A holistic representation of every stakeholder is the key to smoothly implement the NEP. Also, there has to be two-way communication between the representatives of institutions and governments.
Q There is a certain segment that believes higher education has been unfair towards the underprivileged. It is not just about unaffordable fees but also about a cruel lack of empathy that comes from a lesser aware mindset which could be because of their background. How do REVA university policies bridge these gaps?
REVA University has launched multiple facilities and special policies to make education accessible, affordable and equal to all.
The REVA CET is launched with a mission to make quality education accessible to all purely based on merit. Meritorious students, irrespective of their socio-economic background can apply to REVA CET, take up the entrance exams and based on their scores, students will be eligible to apply for different courses.
We offer exclusive scholarships to meritorious students and there is a discounted fee structure for programmes and vocational training programmes that guarantee employment opportunities to women.
Q What do you think is the future of employment for those who still go on opting for conventional courses? In what ways will increasing automation affect education choices of students? What is the future of students of pure sciences?
Employment trends change with the demand for latest technologies, and domains that have higher consumer demand most often dictate the trends. This has been the norm for several decades and to predict the future of those choosing conventional courses may be a futile attempt. However, some conventional courses have less relevance with technological advancements and upskilling is the best way forward to make use of conventional courses.
New age certification programmes, short-term courses, industry-relevant vocational training, international certifications will complement the courses.
Secondly, automation in any industry will certainly impact employment opportunities, but as educators the onus is on us to introduce programmes and new-age courses that are in line with the demands of the modern industrial needs. Students will seek courses that will make them job-ready and universities should create an ecosystem in the sense introduce industry-relevant programmes, engage industrial experts and stakeholders in designing the right curriculum, hold right internship and training programmes that will make students future-ready.
Lastly, as compared to engineering courses, fields of Pure Science has less demand because engineering courses offer high salaried jobs. As a result, innovation and research have taken a backseat in these fields. We should the programmes in Pure Sciences more lucrative for students who will be attracted to enroll in this field. We should introduce right programmes that will have high employment opportunities.
Interestingly, at REVA we are seeing a surge in new student enrollments in Applied Sciences programmes and we have overachieved our student enrollment targets for this course. New age programmes are most sought after, and in this regard, we have launched a new school for Allied Health Sciences this academic year. The School offers B.Sc in Medical Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, B.Sc in Nutrition and Diabetics, among other programmes.
Q Women are still underrepresented in most segments. Infrastructure sector (7%). Automotive (10%). Pharma and healthcare (11%). Information technology (28%). How do feel this skewed ratio will improve?
Equal job opportunities and enabling accessibility to women will improve women representation in all fields. We need more policies and infrastructure at workplaces that will encourage and enable more women to get educated and be employed.
The sectors such as Infrastructure, Automotive, Pharma and healthcare, Information Technology will need to bring in systemic changes at policy levels to address the concerns. A sensitized & holistic approach to workforce play a crucial role. Additionally providing flex work environment at the locational level could encourage more women to get into these sectors. Policies that encourage and support women will go a long way in addressing the issue of women representation and productive work out comes. It is also important that women have a representation in decision-making such that real concerns are easily communicated and addressed.
Q Universities with nonconventional genes are popping up regularly these days. We have examples of Ashoka University, Patanjali University, Sri Sri University and many others that project their unique thought-building force. Do we see a new beginning of another race to stardom here? Will conventional universities be left for those who are left out?
To begin with, we must understand that no university is racing towards stardom. We are an education sector, and not an entertainment industry. Non-conventional learning practices are on the rise undoubtedly, and that’s not just at colleges/ universities-level but at school-level also. Many young parents are looking for alternate schooling methods, and similarly, universities offering nonconventional courses and teaching methods are on the rise.
Having said that, we must understand it’s not a race between conventional and non-conventional universities for one to be left out and the other, way ahead. The fundamental principles of education will remain the same for every university irrespective of its approach. We all aim to provide holistic education, mould student personalities and create an ecosystem that will foster innovation and creativity in students.
Our methodologies to achieve this may vary, but ultimately, students should be mentored to take on real-life challenges, be future-ready and have the confidence to lead in enterprising, leadership roles.
Providing the right exposure, industrial training and new-age vocational skills will assure that our students are in the right direction.