Higher education in India is slowly breaking stereotypes and becoming more flexible. In a recent trend universities across the country are allowing students to customise their curriculum. As a matter of fact, students can now tailor their own courses and opt for different combinations according to their personal choice and aptitude.
For example, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) is all set to launch a paper-wise registration scheme. This scheme will allow students to opt for any number of 'add-on’ papers. There will be no bars on age or restrictions as far as qualification or pre-knowledge of subjects are concerned.
"The idea is to allow students to pick and choose the courses they want to study. In time, we would like to give students the option to take the exam online as and when they want to," says Pankaj Khare, registrar, student registration division, Ignou.
Ignou is not the only case in point. At the School of Liberal Studies (SLS) at Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar, a four-year undergraduate programme in liberal studies allows students to choose from over 30 subjects ranging from arts, science, commerce, management and performing arts in the first two years. Students also get to participate in rural and urban internships, which exposes them to realities on rural planning and offer an insight into the functioning of municipal corporations in urban settings.
On the other hand, Faculty of Arts, MS University, Baroda, allows students to select a variety of disciplines across semesters as opposed to the standard subjects that were taught over the years. Nitin Vyas, dean, Faculty of Arts, says, "The idea is to enable learners to choose from a range of disciplines with a measure of inter and multi-disciplinarity and offer individual choices."
Sunita Mohan, applying for her first year Bachelor of Arts (FYBA) adds, "I am free to choose the foundation and core courses as well as the allied and extension courses that develop social orientation and soft skills."
Coming to further choices, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Hyderabad, has introduced elective courses in theatre, journalism and HR, for the second, third and fourth years, respectively, of the degree programme, starting January 2011.
Vikram Vepa, theatre arts course instructor, says, "It’s a refreshing change for us to introduce a course in theatre. Some students have seriously started considering a career in the film and television industry."
Another institute that is offering students the flexibility to customise their curriculum is the Sujana School of Business (SSB) in Hyderabad, which offers a dual-dimensional management degree programme with both sectoral and functional specialisations.
According to B. Brahmaiah, director, SSB, with nine specialisations comprising four functional and five sectoral, the PGPM is a pragmatic course that provides theoretical learning, industry interface, internship and training.
As D. Naveen, a student points out, "The combination offers one a more practical insight as compared to the traditional MBA degree."
At the research level too, fine-tuning is helping students to focus better. At the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, scholars are asked for their area of interest, which is taken into consideration. For instance, while applying, Lavanya Suresh, pursuing a PhD in political science, was considering focussing on Panchayati Raj. But, later, when she was asked what she was interested in, she said animals. "That’s how my subject cuts across public administration, sociology and ecology," she concludes. - Inputs from Adil Marawala, Baroda; Rachita Kar and Renuka Rane, Hyderabad and Geetha Rao, Bangalore
Courtesy: Education Times