Interview by Swati Mishra
Prof. Kamlesh Misra, an advanced degree holder from Northeastern University, Boston, is currently serving as Vice-Chancellor of Rishihood University. A Harvard alumnus who also worked as an Economist at the Center for Social and Urban Research, Pittsburgh University has decades of experience in the education sector both in Indian and Foreign Institutions.
Dr. Misra has been credited with the establishment of most successful foreign University collaborations in India (Bradford University, Oxford Brookes University, and Lancaster University). The author of six books and over 50 journals have in him qualities of vision, building, organizing, motivating and leading teams to perform at their peak level.
In conversation with Anjali, the academician talks about RU and how the education system in India needs to be evolved!
Rishihood University combines the ideology of the Gurukul System in its modern context
Coming from a family of educationalists, choosing a career in the education field was a natural choice for me. I find this profession as a platform to transform the youth, who are the future of this great Nation. Having been educated in the United States, I always felt the need to return to India and serve my country in the field of Higher Education, which I did at the first opportunity. My motivation is derived from the fact that I can influence the thinking of so many students and have been successfully doing it for three decades of my career so far.
Students need to be aligned and updated with the changes in the industry demands
There are two aspects to this thought process, one needs to be understood.
- The first relates to training and acquisition of marketable skills among the students so that their entry in the industry is seamless.
- The second aspect relates to training in character building and strategic thinking, helping students to acquire new skills when structural changes take place in the economy, and there is a shift in the type of available jobs.
Also, our University has designed its degree programs that require students to shed their dependence on memory and approach the things with their perspective. We let them think critically and come out with solutions to real-life problems rather than feeding them with information that is already available on the internet. We know that the skills our student is going to possess will become the driving force for recruitments.
A complete loss in accountability within the teaching community of the Public University System
India has some very high-quality research institutions, and we have no doubts about it. There is, however, a decline in the standards of degree-granting higher education institutions with only a few exceptions.
The public universities rest on the shoulder of 20 per cent of its faculty, and the rest are not aware of what they are doing, and neither do they care about standards of education. The private universities, on the other hand, are developing high-quality campuses with all necessary types of equipment to support learning, but they also suffer from the quality of faculty as well as the quality of students.
At Rishihood, we take quality issues very seriously and are careful in our faculty recruitments. Our faculty is engaged in teaching, research, and consultancy work, which enhances their profile and experience as a faculty as they move along. We, as a University makes education and learning a fun activity for our students, making them meet high academic standards.
Digital technology is just an enabler and must be handled purposefully by the human brain
The digital age increases accessibility to students from remote areas, reduces the cost of delivering education, creates possibilities to use the best faculty to reach a more extensive student base. So, the digital age is still be an instrument that is to be used with caution.
Rishihood has internalized these realities in its systems and processes. We are putting systems in place to have students use smartphones as a learning tool and both inside the classroom and outside. Our learning management system incorporates tools of blended learning and student information on the fingertips. Our campus has been built on very futuristic and advanced technological features. Such a system will support 24x7 functionality to connect students with faculty and industry mentors for a higher degree of learning. Students can easily access lectures, which are available in a video format from anywhere in the world.
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Research and Innovation are the main drivers of education at Rishihood University
We believe that research leads to the creation of new knowledge that can be brought to the classrooms. In here, we are so passionate about promoting research that it has been decided to set up the Rishihood Researcher’s Home on the campus. This facility not only encourages internal research, but also supports researchers from across the world to come and conduct their Indian centric research at Rishihood University.
Funding is sought through the National Research Foundation, which is open to private universities as well. The University is also in the process of setting up a Research Center to engage and promote research for local impact. The objective is to create a culture of research and innovation, leading to design and development of products and services to address many of our social and economic problems at the local, regional and the National level.
We incorporate Mental, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Education at Rishihood
The University has forged a strategy for the holistic development of its students. This is achieved by focusing on four elements that lead to such a developmental process. Our training of students incorporates Mental Education, Physical Education, Emotional Education and Spiritual Education.
These four objectives are achieved through a variety of academic and extra-academic activities.
- Mental Education leads to igniting the quest of new knowledge,
- Physical Education builds endurance, awareness, swiftness, and agility;
- Emotional Education ensures the control of the vital within each of us such as control of anger, frustration, fear, courage, responsibility, and above all the pride to be an Indian, and
- Spiritual Education focuses on training students in the art of silencing the mind so that they develop skills like concentration, memory, thinking beyond boundaries, and finally develop an understanding of who we are and how we can make our society a better place for all to live in peace.
Youth is an age of distractions, but also, the most crucial phase of your life
The students must choose their career wisely as in the next ten years, more than half of the jobs today will not exist. Creativity and skills will be the focus during this century. There are going to be no short-cuts to success, and you will have to acquire cutting edge knowledge, develop the ability to translate that knowledge into marketable skills, work on the attitude required for your success, and above all, learn the art of working hard.
Yes, there have been instances where people have succeeded in life without education, but as a teacher, I can tell you that never try this trick on yourself. Education is the only tool known to humans that have made life better for the vast majority of people in this world.
Rishihood University has developed unique programs besides your degree to ensure you have a truly transformational experience and become Nation-builders. Always keep your focus and let me tell you that this is going to be a rough ride for you in this age where there will be many distractions on your way. But always remember that once you cross this stage, it is a beautiful life out there waiting for you with open arms.
Dr. Misra is a friend, guide and philosopher to his students
I engage with my students as a teacher and not a Vice-Chancellor, and I ensure taking regular classes with them. This helps in building a healthy student-teacher relationship, which encourages them to ask difficult questions not only about the subject but also about life and living.
We, as teachers, have tremendous power. When we are at our best, we can make them realize their best potential and achieve anything. I am always available for my faculty and students. No appointment system is followed in here, anyone and everyone is free to come and see me if they have any problems.