Measures to improve quality of students

There was quite a media buzz after Infosys chairman emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy’s recent observation on the quality of IIT students. One of main reasons cited for the downslide in quality is the shortage of faculty. Such a qualitative downslide over the years has been experienced by the industry even in colleges, which did nor face any such shortage of faculty. There are a number of reasons for this.

Efforts by students to secure high percentage have taken precedent over fundamental learning of the subjects. Competition and the desire to get a placement in major organisations have accentuated this tendency. Is the percentage of marks in examinations not an automatic consequence of fundamentally strong knowledge? Ultimately, what helps you succeed in the career is in-depth knowledge and some other qualities.

There is a crucial aspect that merits immediate attention. Even if a student is a topper and knows the discipline well, if s/he is weak in communication skills, s/he is most likely to be rated poor in quality by an interviewer. Do not be surprised, if 80 percent of the impact, which a student creates on interviewers, is by his/ her communication skills and how s/he presents self. Even interviewers often are not aware of how their own decisions are influenced by these qualities.

Barring some, most educational institutions do not do a good job to develop the communication qualities in students. A student may have all the knowledge about the discipline, s/he is qualified; but that by itself will have no meaning in practical life, unless s/he is able to demonstrate it effectively during the hiring process and then during actual employment. We may blame the faculty, external coaching classes and so on; however, what we need is to make learning of communication skills and personal grooming a part of college curriculum. The faculty members need to know this and they have to have these qualities to begin with.

Then there is a paramount need for students to imbibe ethics and quality. There is literally no emphasis in academia on these. Here quality means “doing it right the first time.” There is a false notion that a quality system is necessary only in industries and quality costs more efforts, time and money. Actually, it is exactly the opposite. If we can make faculty and students conscious of ethics and quality, in due time, we will have quality manpower needed by the industry.

Originally printed in www.SakaalTimes.com (November 16, 2011)

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