President of GD Goenka University, Dr Suku Bhaskaran joined NewsX for an exclusive chat in its special edition NewsX A-List. He spoke about how GD Goenka University became a successful university.

Dr Suku Bhaskaran starts by talking about the key for building a successful university like his. He shares some mindful methods to achieve success in the educational organisation. “The key to building a successful university is the same as the key to building any organisation. Any successful organisation works on achieving its vision and mission. In the case of almost vision and mission statements of universities including our own, this refers to the quality of teaching and learning, research and external engagement endeavours and outcomes. There is no one key but several keys that had work in tandem with one another. So the cohesive manner in which different things work is more important”, he said.

Dr Suku said, “Good university creates an outstanding teaching-learning, research and external environment so that students receive a well-rounded education. Students and staff have a passion for scholarship. They are ethical in their academic pursuit”.

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Grounding his answer, he said, “We will need to be able to assess and also measure outcomes in teaching-learning and external engagement. In the contemporary situation, academic leadership worldwide are happy and want to be guided by the higher education ranking measures used in measures such as Times Higher Education World ranking, US World University rankings and Shanghai World University ranking. These, of course, have limitations but whatever the limitations of these, it offers an excellent means of benchmarking performance and therefore this is what is a good measure of whether we are successful or not”, he added.

He then mentioned that his university uses a multitude of measures to learn about the success of their teaching-learning process. They are one of the pioneers in adopting blended learning. About 5 years ago they introduced blended learning with block course delivery. He said, “Our action to invigorate teaching-learning practices are informed by research and through attracting academic staff with qualification, requisite training and competencies and exposure to contemporary teaching-learning practices worldwide. We give priority to learning outcomes and examine whether our teaching methods achieve intended learning outcomes.”

Dr Suku said, “We assess learning outcomes by setting assessments and assessment rubrics that will enable us to determine whether the intended learning outcomes have been achieved. We monitor student satisfaction through anonymous course feedback that captures all aspect of the learning experience, course content, assessment and quality of student-staff engagement. We also undertake class representative academic staff meetings and this informs us well. We get feedback from external academics and industry representatives at the academic board level. We analyse placement outcomes and discuss with employers as to what is needed. We have periodic focus group engagements with students in various programs. We are also introducing flipped classroom in some cases at this stage. We are focusing on some causes because we want to learn from acting on this before we adopt this more widely across causes and programs. We have practices that enable students to learn from past assessments’, he continued.”

Dr Suku shared his opinion on whether students will still want to go abroad for higher studies in the coming future. He said that the aim of acquiring permanent citizenship abroad is what attracts the students, the resources, the ecosystem, the reputation of universities abroad are perceived to be better than ours. Students are motivated by an interest in wanting to take on permanent citizenship. They can also work part-time and to some extend defray some causes.”

He added that the number of students going abroad will only increase once the lockdown is lifted. Touching upon his vision for higher education in India, Mr Bhaskaran said, “My vision is that India should have quality high education institutions that have good leadership, quality academics and are able to match global best practices and make significant contributions to the community. We are rapidly being compared to big strides in higher education.”

He then suggested a few reforms that can be bought in for better education in our country. He said, “We need to accept that reforms are needed and ensure that our actions are not informed through resistance to change. Bring home leading academic leaders and provide them with the opportunity to develop our higher education institutions. We also need to attract good quality academics from abroad to strengthen our education system.”

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