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GD Goenka World Institute - [GDGWI], Gurgaon

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Interview: Prof. Suku Bhaskaran, Director, G D Goenka World Institute-Lancaster University

1. How do you look at your association as a Director with, G D Goenka World Institute-Lancaster University? Please share the vision of the institution.

I see my association as the Director of G D Goenka World Institute, Lancaster University as a great opportunity to build a world-class higher education institution. This may sound as a bit of a cliché with almost all academic leaders claiming to do just that.

However, the difference is that, firstly I personally and some of my academic leadership team have qualifications and experience in top-tier institutions worldwide. Furthermore, we are delivering a truly ‘world-class’ programme as evidenced by positioning in global third party higher education league tables and validations by accrediting agencies.

The students studying at G D Goenka World Institute earn a Lancaster University degree, a qualification from amongst the top 1% of global universities per all three recognized higher education league tables – Q S World University Rankings, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and Academic Rankings of World Universities.

GD Goenka Academic Building

2. You have extensive experience in the field of education, please highlight on the endeavors in the domain, how have you seen the domain of education evolve.

My experience in India is slightly more than four years. I came here on a short stint to the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, then, because of various reasons I decided to stay in India. My higher education experience is diverse and mostly based on my stint in universities in Australia, USA and other countries. I have observed that the higher education system in India is on the cusp of major changes but somehow raring to go but not getting started aggressively.

As a generalization, I see the higher education system in India is still being based on rote-learning, covering a rather wide syllabus. In contrast, the higher education system, at least in the better institutions abroad are based on the depth of learning,  research, self-study, focused on learning as opposed to teaching, and assessments being based on determining capability to analyze and critique rather than reproduce facts. Some countries such as China, South Korea and Japan have already vastly accelerated the teaching and learning modalities to sync more closely to the Western model. In my opinion, India is still in very early stages of this change but definitely making the changes.

3. Various institutions are facing dearth of faculty vs. dearth of quality faculty, how is your institution up keeping its standard?

Faculty shortage and quality of faculty is an issue because the best brains from India are going abroad to pursue advanced study and often stay on because of wages and life style considerations. We are addressing this limitation in several ways. Some of us were ‘headhunted’ and brought into this institution. We also have faculty from Lancaster University (UK) teaching into our programmes. For example, faculty from Lancaster University (UK) deliver more than 80% of the modules in our ‘MSc Management’ and ‘MSc Management with Marketing’, both through face-to-face contact mode and via video conferencing.We have very stringent and multi-stage faculty selection interviews. After the academic staff are selected, they go through several programs aimed at acculturate them to the organization and our programmes, these include peer observation of their teaching and learning practices and the requirement for academic staff to undergo a formal two stage training programme, on the successful completion of which they will be awarded a ‘Certificate in Academic Practice/Diploma in Academic Practice’ by Lancaster University.

Prof Suku with the guest

4. The competitive scenario rules the education sector. Institutions, students, educationists are caught up in a rut to outshine each other. According to you, in what way can one stand out among the crowd, what are the distinguishing features of your institutions?

The course content and pedagogy is comprehensively different to what is on offer in other higher education institutions in India. This has meant that we have had to develop stringent standards for recruiting academic staff, often train and retrain these staff members, and develop a culture that is founded on continuous learning and adaptation of contemporary knowledge and teaching and learning practices.

What we have at our institution is a fabulous integration of content and practices from one of the top global universities overseen by academic staff members with extensive experience and qualifications from the very best higher education institutions in the world. The mix of these two competencies is a very clear differentiation from what is on offer elsewhere.

The emphasis is not only on marrying theory to practice alone but, as I explained earlier, analysis, retrospection and critiquing extant theory. This will include analyzing whether the theory or knowledge which are applicable in a different context such as the country, industry, size of the company etc. Learning and sharing of knowledge is founded on intense research. From the very first year in our undergraduate programmes, students are assigned to read scholarly journal articles rather than just textbooks. As the programme advances, prescribed reading is increasingly drawn from scholarly articles and class discussions of the findings and conclusions in these studies.

We also have a vibrant ‘guest lecture series’ wherein almost on a fortnightly basis we get senior executives from industry to address our students on key issues and developments in business practice and technical developments.

Prof Suku Bhaskaran

5. Throw some light upon the future plans for the institution, what is your motive as an educator?

I am of the opinion that based on what we I have said so far, G D Goenka World Institute is distinctly different to other higher education providers in India. That difference is evident in the culture of the organization, teaching and learning practices, faculty student engagement and the global perspective the Institution adopts. For example, we had a ‘student-faculty’ buddy programme, nota mentorship programme. We facilitate students to engage with one faculty member as a close friend to transgress the ‘new’ environment at G D Goenka World Institute and the challenges in the ‘new’ environment. The experience from this programme has been outstanding and we have received commendation on the uniqueness and the value-add of this initiative. Our immediate future plans are to increase the number of programmes.

6. Suppose you have a new idea for parent-school communications that you want to try; how would you go about it?

We would pilot it, evaluate it, revise it if necessary and then launch it. We electronically share information on students’ class attendance, performance and discipline with parents.

7. How is holistic development of students promoted at the institution? How do wish to inculcate qualities of a team-player and polish decision making skills of a student?

This is a priority in our agenda. We have a range of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities that are designed to develop the personality, values, ethics and leadership skills of our students. There are several clubs that undertake CSR activities, sporting activities, animal welfare activities etc. Students are trained to craft and submit proposals for each activity which these clubs and other groups propose to undertake, students are trained to elect leaders and office bearers, conduct meetings, plan, schedule and operationalize events. Our CSR Club collected and donated Rs15,000 for the Nepal earthquake disaster relief work. The Institute operates a Rotract Club which has organized several charitable events. Students partake in yoga and meditation etc.

Lightening the lamp

8. What are the challenges faced at G D Goenka World Institute, Lancaster University?

Ours is an international degree programme – because we have been in operation only for seven years, the benefits of the programme are not yet extensively understood. However, there is increasing recognition by potential employers of the value of the education. Last year we had unprecedented demand for our graduates with us not having enough graduates to offer potential employers.

9.  What will be that one advice you will want your students to remember for all walks of life?

My advice is, education is an investment and active engagement in all aspects of life will inculcate the spirit of lifelong learning that will hold you in good spirit.

Also Read:

Interview: Dr.Sanjeev Bansal, Director, Amity Business School, Noida

Interview: Dr. Alok Satsangi, Director, St. Catherine Institute of Management & Technology, New Delhi

Last Updated - 20 Oct 2015

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