Aligning Curriculum to Industry Requirements

July 31, 2019

This blog is intended to share my thoughts and experience at University of Hyderabad (UOH) – that encompasses special meeting details; and interactions with great academicians across the country with a purpose in mind.

Today, emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain and Data Visualization are transforming businesses digitally. However, tuning into these technologies has become a compulsion not only for the businesses but also for the students, in order to stay relevant. As the growth in technology and innovation rapidly changes the nature of the jobs, businesses have to necessarily put in a lot of effort to train their employees. This is due to the mismatch between the industry expectations and the academia ideologies. Having been a part of the IT Services industry for 2 ½ decades, I share the Industry’s disillusionment regarding the job readiness of the students entering the workforce. However, this very gap is compelling industry and academia to come together to address this issue.

Thanks to the University of Hyderabad (UOH) for breaking the boundaries. This year, UOH intends to take Industry feedback (experts’ opinion) to design their advanced MBA courses (including content, approach, and so on) that match the industry and market requirements.

We at RoundSqr have been invited by them to participate and give suggestions for fine-tuning this year’s curriculum for their executive MBA program (which is yet to be started).

I represented RoundSqr in the meeting. It has been a memorable experience for me to share the space with the most eminent professors from Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), as well as stalwarts from the Industry (specifically TCS and Virtusa). We also had senior professors and other academicians from UoH in the meeting.

The team went through the current curriculum and did a detailed review. The meeting went on for three hours. After discussions related to topics at hand (like curriculum, subjects, schedule, credits, credit optimizations, course content etc.), we provided valuable suggestions to the University.

The enormous experience of academicians, deans and professors was clearly visible in terms of correlating the syllabus with that of practical considerations, student psychology, and industry relevance.

As industry representatives, we appreciated the academic aspects of the course, and their relevance in the industry scenario. However, we provided a few suggestions to walk the fine line between curriculum and industry requirements.

Some of the exploratory action items that were suggested by us to the University management for their consideration…

  • Course credits
    • Cut down the credits from 108 to 102 (as per ‘All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)’ stipulated norms)
    • Have 4 credits per course | 6 courses per semester
    • One course per semester may be given as independent study, or the student may be advised to take up open online courses (specifically Swayam or Moocs). However, the end test may be conducted by the University only
    • Rename course titles in a more non-conventional manner
    • Introduce flexibility in course completion process (to give an option for the student to complete the course within four years after registration). However, the student should pass 50% of the courses in each semester to become eligible for the next semester)
  • Projects and electives
    • At the end of first year, students should do a project internship (for 6 weeks) in any organization (the nature of the work should be beneficial / impactful to the organization)
    • Proposed dual elective structure (dual course specialization) in the second year. Each elective will have two papers per semester
    • By the end of the final semester, student should do a major project in chosen elective area (this includes report writing and submission; and viva-voice) | 6 credits for the completion of this course
  • Pedagogical practices
    • Include case studies, rigorous assignments, interface with industry personnel, and sharing of experiences, etc.
    • The evaluation pattern distribution would be 60:40 (where 60% weightage is for the end semester exam; and the remaining 40% may include quizzes, term paper presentations, and assignments)
    • Follow interactive classroom teaching methods or techniques

To sum up

The alignment of curriculum with that of industry requirements is no longer an option, but a necessity. So, academia and companies should come together to address and solve the real-world challenges in this fast-paced environment. If this happens, businesses can save a lot of money, time and efforts. We can bring about a tremendous change in education sector as well.