Higher education is seen as an enterprise that can transform the economy as well as the human resource of a country. In recent years, the government is focusing on emerging areas to enhance the quality of education in higher education institutions. One of the key areas which is generally neglected by higher education institutions, especially in J&K, is its inability to establish permanent association with its Alumni (former students). Keeping in view the idea of inclusive development in higher education institutions (college) after central government's nod to go ahead with NEP-2020, active involvement of Alumni is a key for overall growth and progression of colleges. In the West, Alumni play a fundamental role for the development of great institutions by rendering various services. Former president of the USA, John F. Kennedy has rightly said, 'I think the success of any school can be measured by the contribution the alumni made to our national". That is how common young graduates in America pursue their successful American dream through support and guidance of their former colleagues. It is interesting to know that even elites in the US government including the president are actively involved in campus development of their former schools, colleges and Universities. It is pertinent to mention that our institutions still treat alumni and their alma-mater as separate domains, and therefore there is always a communication gap between the two. It is commonly observed that our new comers in colleges have no information about the college and its past, and never bother to seek such information. It is important for us to take keen interest to revamp the Alumni Association so that linkages are developed between Alumni and its Alma mater for the overall growth & development of colleges. Following are the key benefits of having vibrant Alumni Association in your college:
Alumni Association as a live heritage of college: It is rightly said that, An Institution's alumni are the reflection of its past, representation of its present and a link to its future. They represent the image of your institution, and act as ambassadors of your college. Vibrant and diverse alumni of your college increases the visibility of your institution at national and international level. It is the responsibility of alumni and its alma—mater to make this association a strategic asset.
Connecting with the best human resource: Developing skilled human resources from your college is one of the key objectives of NEP-2020. It is important for stakeholders in colleges to kick start collaborating with the best skilled Alumni who can render their service for the uplift of their college. Many alumni are keen to give back to their parent institution whatever experience and expertise they possess. This selfless service is cost effective and has zero investment. Every college has a pool of highly talented skilled alumni whose service can be used for developing skilled graduates who are ready for new challenges.
Support System for overall Development: Institution cannot run in isolation and needs a strong support system from various sectors. Well engaged alumni network allows your college to take various advantage of former graduates. As colleges have produced diverse alumni members and are willing to support college in different capacities, it is important to define the role of engaged alumni for the development of college.
Offering services: Talented alumni can offer various services for the benefit of your institution. Career counselling and placement cells of the college are the best platform for the college to engage alumni having achieved best in their respect fields. Many of the Alumni of your college will likely become role models for the current students and will have positive impacts on their academics. Some alumni presently working in elite international national/institutions can provide internships and fellowship opportunities, besides guiding youngsters for achieving their future goals. There should be at least one event in a month where best achievers (best alumni) should be invited to talk and interact with current students.
Impact on Assessment /Accreditation: One of the key benefits from Alumni Association is the positive impact of quality human resources developed by the college on top Academic Bodies (like NAAC) who visit to assess the credentials and quality of education during their peer team visit. It is important for Institutions to take alumni on board on various academic and developmental issues so that their suggestions are sought for the maintenance of highest quality that will pave the way for better grades for your college.
Annual Meets Rekindle Memories: Apart from various academic and developmental benefits, Alumni Association also helps to enhance human to human interaction between current students & former students. Annual Alumni meets rekindle old memories of college in some and inspiration in others. Some of the alumni have unique experience associated with college which they only share during these special events. So, the Alumni Association is not simply an academic association, but is also a lifelong association between its members and alma-mater.
In short, Academic institutions need to revamp their Alumni Association in such a way that will help reshape our institutions for a better future. For achieving this goal, both alumni & its alma-mater need to cooperate and collaborate for the common good of society.
Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar, Assistant Professor (Zoology), Government Degree College Boys, Anantnag