Non-Academic Continuity​

PLACEMENTS AND INTERNSHIPS

The ongoing pandemic has had an adverse impact on the overall global economy. In addition, due to restrictions on mobility, organisations have witnessed loss of business resulting in salary reductions and unemployment. Therefore, a lot of organisations are going through recruitment freeze and hence, placements may be more challenging in times of COVID-19. However, some strategies that may be built to ensure a strong future for the students are as follows:

  • Institution based opportunities
    -Identify in-house research opportunities for research
    -Identify in-house administrative job.

  • Cross skilling to meet existing demands of jobs
    -Create additional online cross-training courses in fields which have job requirements such as technology, healthcare administration to meet the job demands of those

  • Management trainee programmes/ Pro bono work
    -Build partnerships with organisations to create a job opportunity, which identifies shorter and more flexible working hours with lower pay for the This can be similar to management trainee programmes or extended internships. The pay package can be pre-set to a standardised hike for a time post COVID-19. Terms and conditions for this will need to be pre-defined.
    -Work with organisations to identify pro-bono jobs which can engage the students effectively.

  • International job opportunities
    -Utilise this time to build partnerships with international organisations which will allow work from This way a payment in a higher power currency can meet the budget of the international company as well as the requirements of the student. However, the HEIs must work on the basis of the legal compliance of this structure with the legal authorities and government bodies.

  • Tertiary Education Scholarships/ Fellowships
    -Create opportunities of tertiary education and identify ways to provide scholarships, the cost of which can be adjusted with increase in admission of students who may want to take up online postgraduate degree

The transition of educational institutions to online learning across the world has provided an opportunity for students to be a part of foreign education programmes without having to travel, and therefore, brings no major cost investment. HEIs could utilise this opportunity to increase international opportunities through:

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS

  • Friendly Agreements
    Develop friendly agreements and MoUs with international institutions which allow their students to participate in e-classrooms and vice versa. The clauses of the MoU can allow participation in physical exchange programmes post the pandemic. Also, organise lectures by international experts. The HEIs can do online collaboration with national and international HEIs and arrange online lectures by international experts of repute.

The transition of educational institutions to online learning across the world has provided an opportunity for students to be a part of foreign education programmes without having to travel.

 

  • Cross-Access of Resources
    Collaborate with international institutions to develop partnerships via which one can have restricted and low-paid access to their classroom recordings, or a mutually beneficial partnership with exchange of recordings.

EXCHANGE   PROGRAMMES

An additional layer of complexity will be added in case of dual degree programs conducted in collaboration with a foreign institution, or students pursuing semester exchange. The physical movement to and from India for these programs may not be feasible for the upcoming semester at least and it may be best to suspend any dual degree or semester exchange program temporarily. If the institutions continue with these programs, they will need to engage closely with partner institutions individually. Decisions also need to be taken regarding students whose dual degree or semester exchange programs were curtailed midway due to pandemic related restrictions in home country.

The purpose should be to ensure that the credits earned by Indian students abroad and foreign students at Indian institutions are valid and equivalent for earning their degree even after making the changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and policies as suggested above.

Dual degree programmes can be updated to allow students to access resources of the partner institution, attend online classes, and participate in virtual events. This will enable continuity in the exchange process virtually.

The institutions need to decide on the following three aspects:

  • Length of the work week (5 or 6 day)
  • Status of routine holidays during the semester (religious festivals and national holidays)
  • Duration and scheduling of the semester breaks (mid and end-term)

The institutions may find it reasonable to significantly reduce the number of holidays and increase the work week since everyone is working from home. However, all such decisions need to move beyond utilitarian efficiency arguments and explicitly consider the likely impact of the changes on physical and mental health of students and faculty members. The following should be taken into consideration while planning the holidays and semester breaks:

  • Mental Wellness – The emerging evidence of work from home, especially during a pandemic, overwhelmingly confirms that such arrangements are more taxing for the individual and have a negative impact on mental.

  • Study-from-home Fatigue – The work of teaching, learning, and research requires long stretches of concentrated The physical institution campus spaces act as great equalisers providing similar access to resources (including time) to everyone. With these spaces inaccessible now, institutions also need to consider the diversity in the living conditions of the students and faculty members while considering workload during the semester. The long stretches of concentrated work may not be feasible for several students or faculty members staying within joint or big families with very young children or elderly parents, or those staying in cramped houses.

Institutions also need to consider the diversity in the living conditions of the students and faculty members while considering workload during the semester.

  • Existing Batches
    For the existing batches, the institutions can plan to open a week earlier than usual. This will be specifically useful for the following two situations:
  • For those institutions resuming classes in online mode, this extra week can be utilised to test the software and hardware in case of online classrooms, and help students and faculty members navigate the new digital protocols, SOPs, and spaces (e.g. Moodle, OneDrive, Piazza ). The extra week will also help faculty members take demonstrations of classes and help students to attend lectures, submit and resolve doubts, upload assignments and receive mock feedback and grades. This will likely reduce the time spent during the actual semester.
  • For residential institutions which plan to resume physical classrooms, this extra week will be required to ensure staggered entry into the campus.

  • Incoming Batches
    For incoming batches, the semester schedule (including start of classes) will depend on the admission process.

    The institutions that conduct their own entrance examination for specific programs will have a better control over the admission process and semester start dates. In several cases, institutions depend on centralised admission tests (e.g. Common Admission Test for MBA) or process (e.g. IITs or Medical Colleges). The semester start dates need to be synchronised with the respective authority administering the test or process, and there may be greater uncertainty about the semester. All institutions should plan with a routine start, one- month delay, and two-month delay scenarios. Accordingly, they should modify the credit structure, the course requirements (courses offered, curriculum, assessments and pedagogy), and the semester duration for each of the three scenarios.

 

Besides credit and course requirements, the institutions need to think about socialisation of incoming batches separately, especially if the institutions resume in an online mode.

The Undergraduate students entering institutions will be constrained in their interactions and will have limited knowledge of the institution; not being on campus can further widen this gap for them. Most of the students join institutions from different boards where the focus is on textbook based learning. As opposed to this, HEI students are expected to conduct independent research by consulting different books and resources from the library and internet. Further, group assignments are a part of the institution culture and most students in incoming batches may not have any exposure to such work. Located remotely, they may not get an opportunity to build a rapport with their group mates, a key ingredient of successful group work. Therefore, institutions need to make extra efforts to socialise students and induct them into institution culture and norms.

  • The departments can consider introducing specific courses to expose students to independent reading, writing, and research
  • Informal mentoring by faculty members and students from senior batches in the department for small groups can be
  • The institutions can organise district or state level meetups for incoming batch Students from senior batches can also be invited. Faculty members from these states can take the responsibility of organising the meetups and ensuring that social distancing norms are followed. If the risk exposure is high, these meetups can be organised online with a special agenda for the incoming batches.
  • Additional online meetups of incoming batches with senior students and faculty.

The institutions should take this as a serious endeavour to ensure that the transition of students from schools to HEIs is as smooth as possible under given circumstances.