Dr. V. K. Sethi
VC at RKDF University

Talking about his educational experience in IIT Roorkee and Manchester, UK. He explains how other university can match the level of teaching and exposure for the benefit of students.

Ques 1: You are the Vice chancellor of RKDF University. Kindly tell us about your experience in the education industry and what makes it the best industry to work in?

Ans. I am the Vice chancellor of RKDF University. I was in the education field for the last 20 years. Before that, I had experience of around 30 years in the industry of the power sector. So, I find from my experience in the technical education is that it needs to be more strengthened by more practical experience and collaboration with the industry. Students need more hands-on experience particularly in the main sectors like chemical, electrical, civil, computer science and electronics. What I feel is that there should be internships for gaining experience as it is very necessary. Looking at the medical field, I feel that internship should also be included in engineering field and we should do something for that.

Ques 2: You graduated from IIT Roorkee and post graduated from Manchester, UK. How do you differentiate the quality of education in India with that of the other countries?

Ans. Well! I've done my post-graduation in Manchester UK. It is the house of esteem. I did M.Tech. in thermal but at that time, we were given a lot of exposure on the actual power plant during that Period. We were asked to work in the power plants in the shifts with the shift engineers, the operators on the boiler feed pump and on the systems like turbine and generator.

At the day time, we used to have lectures and evening onwards, mostly we were in Fiddlers Ferry power station, one of the nearest power station in the Manchester area. We used to learn from the operators, from the people who are just maybe ITI but we used to learn a lot from them. Their experience is more insight to the subject of thermal engineering. So that's the type of education I want in our country with more practical skill and experience.

I feel that there is a lot of difference here. Only teaching and little bit of experimentation is present, whereas in abroad, there is more of hands-on experience.

Ques 3: Being an alumni of IIT Roorkee, do you agree that other university across the country are coming to the level of IIT or you feel that there will always be a difference in terms of quality education?

Ans. In terms of quality education, the main difference lies in the quality of teachers. In IIT Roorkee, the faculties were so much groomed. They were given faculty development program and they used to attend those programs regularly. They were given opportunities of international visits and got exposure to international Universities and various societies. They used to move to different places in the Asia pacific. So with that type of exposure with the faculty, it makes a difference in the teaching. At the older times, all division were not much experienced and were opposite at that time. But today in this computer age, we have a lot of stimulation available for teaching. So this is the time where other universities should follow what IIT do to improve the exposure to the faculty, to the industry and the industrial world.

Ques 4: You said that the basic difference lies in practices of industries, so how does your curriculum and your university insure best practice of industry?

Ans. This is what we are trying to do in engineering, agriculture and architecture. We conducted a regular board of studies where we call the experts from the industries. There are minimum experienced to experts in each board. For example, we are going to have a board of study in the first week of July on management and in this board, there will be experts from the management and industries who are working at a senior level. They will come and will give their inputs for the new elective subject because now just core subjects will not work and we need more elective subjects so there will be flexibility and specialization in the subject. This is the thing that we are doing for improving the quality of education.

Ques 5: Being a Vice Chancellor is never easy. So what significant challenges have you faced in the RKDF University?

Ans. The biggest challenge is that the management wants us to bring more sponsored projects from the Department of Science and Technology, AICTE, UGC and from various other sponsoring organization. We should bring more projects but mostly senior faculty are able to submit projects to the government because of very stringent methods of registrations. So your publication should be there in large number then we can submit the project in that particular area.

So being the Vice Chancellor of our University it is the biggest challenge. There are very few faculty who are really experienced, who put up the projects and defend those projects. That is also very important as once the project is submitted, you have to defend and you can do that when you got a good experience and knowledge.

Ques 6: Being a Vice Chancellor, you cannot be available for all the students all the time. How do you to establish a relationship with your students and how do you make yourself available to them?

Ans. I review the projects of students in the final semester of every discipline like engineering, agriculture, etc. They have to do some projects, so I get involved only in those projects as I cannot get involved in every class work. I've got a core team of 25 students which were earlier sent to the Thailand and South Korea for AUSA Conferences. I send them for displaying their model everywhere, they got a model room and student’s activity room where I go regularly and guide them to prepare a model. Recently, we have won an award from Department of Science and

Technology which is one lakh rupees for a device in which deaf people can hear. We have sent that device for patenting, in which the patent and the name of the student will be there. So by involving students and by making a core group of students who can get involved with me particularly for the project related to solar, related to power sector and power system. We have sent a group of students to two places. Maybe in future, we will explore some more opportunities for them for displaying their projects.

Ques 7: One of the major challenges that student are facing these days are placements. Right after graduation, they find it difficult to search a good job for themselves. How do you look to the growth of student through placement opportunities in your University?

Ans. We have global students from Nigeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast. I personally look after them, meet them regularly and we have got a department which takes care of these foreign students. There is a hostel for these students giving all the facilities like air conditioner and well equipped room, etc.

Apart from that we conduct extra classes for them particularly for communication skills because many students come from French background. They have studied in French language, so English classes and residual classes have to be arranged for these foreign student in the areas in which they need our help or support.

Ques 8: How do you look at the growth of the student through placement opportunities available? How you wish to push the envelope further?

Ans. Placement situations in engineering is not good at the moment.

Our pharmacy and agriculture students get jobs immediately. Efforts have to be made particularly for engineering student and for that I am going to have a meeting known as Manthan. I tried to call the industries here from Pithampur, Indore and other nearby areas and try to increase number of campus placements.

In the last batch, only 35% to 40% got admission who were last batch pass outs in the month of May. I think that situation needs to be solved and we have to work hard for that.

Ques 9: You said that your university has many students coming from different countries, different backgrounds and different states of our country. How do you build a positive culture environment among the students?

Ans. For that purpose, we organize interaction session with the foreign students. It is very similar to what we do with the freshers. Then, we have got information from the embassy of those foreign students which we show it to our students also like how they are gathered, what is their culture, how they live there, etc. That orientation type of thing is what we do for our freshers also and it is similar to orientation programs. The foreign students are also told about our culture. For that, we have a conference room where we actually display PowerPoint Presentations where we talk about our culture and our students acquainted with their culture.

Ques 10: What goals do you have for your university for the next few years?

Ans. You've asked a very good question because I’ve got only 2 years as we can work till 70 years of age and I am 68 now.

My target is to build up a research base in our university. A good research base, setting up new labs by the help of Department of Science and Technology and FIFT programs where higher research work can be done using good machines. Young students of first year and second year are very innovative. Only thing they need is a place where they can put up their views and implement these things. I want to set up rooms which are present in our university where they do student activities and it should be present in all the five engineering colleges. More research centers is what is in my mind.

For faculty development programs, I want to send these faculty to utilize the facilities which are available in Bhopal itself. I will be sending more faculties to NITTR for training.
So faculty development and student development has to go simultaneously and the research base too. These are the three things I want to do.

Ques 11: Any suggestions would you like to give to the youth and to the aspiring students?

Ans. Youth! I want to say that they should be more focused on their studies and they should look for more opportunities of entrepreneurship.  Getting a job is one thing and we don't want to become jobseeker, we want job producers, who can produce jobs for themselves and for the generations to come. So until and unless, they work in innovations and they're open to the rest of the world for knowledge, global knowledge and global exposure which is available.

NPTL and other programs are available on the website and good lectures are being delivered from IITs and other institutions.

They are all available now a days so they should supplement our teaching with that.  That is also I think should be done by a student.