BY DR. NAZIR AHMAD GILKAR and DR. AASIF SHAH
In this world of eight billion people where 99 percent are job seekers and 1 percent are job creators, the role of higher education institutions is subject to debate and discussion. Not only is there a big gap between demand and supply of employment but the growing mismatch of skills among students to take up the employment opportunities is even worse.
What the students possess do not appear to be in great demand in the job market. They find it hard to meet the expectations of the industries. The dots between demand and supply of skilled human resources are to be connected by none other than academic institutions.
Conventional approach to prepare students for standardized grades or jobs doesn’t define the role of higher educational institutions unless they produce the graduates who can contribute towards innovation, job creation, and enhanced standard of living.
This is probably one of the top reasons why commerce education has been gaining attention over the years. It provides them with all analytical, computational, managerial, and higher order thinking skills to ensure that the students can think creatively out of the box.
Kudos to NEP-2020 for recognizing the fact that the higher education institutions were creating balance sheets with greater liabilities than assets (in intrinsic terms) and there was a need to pull them out from the depths of failure and push them to the next level of success.
The policy realized that the higher education institutions cannot afford to produce graduates with specific skills to handle only a few things. In cricket, as a case study, every team plays with all-rounders who can bat and can also contribute with the ball.
Likewise, the NEP 2020 promises to produce all round students where they can develop expertise in a major subject of his choice and can also have an opportunity to acquaint themselves with minor, multidisciplinary and skill subjects to be able to adjust themselves in the competitive market. The policy brings a variety of skills and attitudes to ensure a strong, sustainable and balanced educated youth.
Commerce education has all the ingredients of NEP-2020 to prepare students for the challenges created by the corporate world. In Kashmir, commerce education was started at undergraduate level with the establishment of Islamia College of Science & Commerce in 1961.
After almost a decade, a post graduate Department of Commerce was started in the University of Kashmir. With the passage of time, Commerce education was introduced in different urban and rural colleges of the valley. The added advantage of commerce education has been that it enjoys immense interface with the industry.
Over the years, commerce education has turned out to be the most preferred choice among students across the country. The cut-off score for the commerce honors goes as high as 100℅ in top DU colleges. Even in Srinagar city itself, the craze of commerce education is worth noticing.
Also, the students from other districts are showing immense enthusiasm towards this discipline. The fact of the matter is that it empowers a student to become like a 360-degree player to survive in a tight economy and competitive market. The empowerment is such that a student is in a position to turn every challenge into an opportunity to rise to the occasion.
However, the huge potential of commerce education to contribute decisively to society and business has remained untapped by and large. For instance, corporates and industries operating in India are still relying on borrowed theories for their business operations.
Lack of sophisticated approaches to deal with the unexpected technological advances, business uncertainty, global competitiveness, financial crises, corporate scams and failed startups offer an immense scope for commerce education to engage students in serious research in Accounting, Finance, Taxation and international business.
It is pertinent to mention that during the fourth year of graduation, the project work to be pursued by the students should be dealt with all seriousness by the faculty to achieve the desired outcome as envisaged under NEP 2020.
The universities should look into the requirements of local business and industry before designing the curriculum to make commerce education a preferred choice among students. The write up offers a few suggestions for the policy consideration.
1. As Cluster University Srinagar (CUS) is about to launch an integrated LLB program. It is recommended that the university may launch B. Com LLB in order to churn out corporate lawyers, experts in corporate affairs, specialists in forensic accounting, auditing and reporting keeping in view the increasing number of corporate scams coming to light day in and day out. Otherwise, their counterparts are already running BA - LLB integrated programs.
2. The Departments of Commerce may initiate steps to organize workshops: seminars: conferences in light of NEP 2020 to encourage students to explore new knowledge to face real world challenges. It will also provide them an opportunity to establish contacts with eminent scholars from other universities. In 1994, the Department of Commerce (KU) organized a mega workshop on curriculum restructuring with a twin purpose to restructure curriculum and develop faculty in curriculum management practices. After almost 14 years in 2008, another such workshop was organized by the department. Now this opportune time has come to organize a workshop on curriculum re-engineering in light of NEP-2020. It is pertinent to put on record that the Department of Commerce University of Jammu during its silver jubilee celebrations in 1988 hosted 43rd All India Commerce Conference. However, no such event has been hosted in Kashmir until now.
3. The established Commerce Departments at University of Kashmir, Islamia College of Science & Commerce, Bemina College, Pulwama College, Baramulla College may tie up with newly established commerce departments across different district colleges to offer struggling students an opportunity to study at the partner University/College with a view to experience a different academic culture. Such programs may be pursued under hub and spoke models. The established commerce departments shall act as hubs and newly established colleges shall be designed as spoke colleges to strengthen the institutional collaborations.
4.The students under NEP - 2020 are required to obtain 30 credits for skill education to ensure learning beyond textbooks. Accordingly, the universities and colleges have introduced skill development courses where a student is required to obtain 12 credits in the classroom and the remaining 18 credits from the NSQF training partner. In this regard, it is suggested that the colleges should offer strictly only those skill courses prescribed under NSQF to avoid any mismatch between conceptual credits (12) and practical/applied credits (18).
5. Cluster University Srinagar is about to churn out a second batch of postgraduates in commerce among other disciplines. It may start a PhD program to offer its passionate students an opportunity to pursue doctoral degrees. The research culture has to be promoted to help students to develop the critical and analytical skills of the student. No university can afford to lag behind the competitive academic eco-system. The competition is tough and tight.
Authors are subject-matter specialists in Commerce Curriculum Management Practices (CCMP)
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.