In the light of rising concerns about the COVID-19 spread, many companies have put a hold on their placement process. Colleges in India are facing a tough year ahead with disruptions in their campus recruitments as the pandemic affects businesses worldwide. While many students have been placed already, some still struggle to find a good job offer. However, due to the prolonged lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, few companies are deferring the offers made, while some have withdrawn offers made already. Getting almost 100% of the eligible and willing students placed, a few have often walked away with multiple offers. A portion of them, who come from business families, pursue the path of entrepreneurship, and some of them pursue higher education, opting out of placements. “Over the years, our pool of recruiters and job offers are getting better. Last year we saw our students going to a wide variety of companies and sectors. Firms include the new-age firms such as BYJU, MNCs such as S&P Global, banks such as HDB and ICICI, manufacturing firm such as Trident group, etc.”, points out Dr Nilesh Khare, Dean, Faculty of Management and Commerce (FMC), Jagran Lakecity University (JLU).
Several surveys conducted over a long period have determined the shortage of qualified, skilled manpower in the Indian formal sector. The latest figures suggest that only 7% of management graduates are employable, 43% could be employed in non-managerial positions, and 50% remain unemployable. “We take pride in producing employable competitive graduates through our four pillars,i.e., internationally benchmarked curriculum, application-oriented pedagogy, industry intervention via guest lectures, internship, immersion, and skill-based interdisciplinary degrees”, says Dr Nilesh.
As the faculty members and students at JLU come from a socio-economic background where they have reasonably good dexterity with technology, the university was the first to start classes online on March 23rd, 2020, conducted an online exam in April-May 2020, had an online placement fair for final and summer internships, etc. They started the senior batches on time, and the class of 2021 will be graduating on time in May 2021. “It is obvious that all this has been possible because of our staff and faculty, which was constantly innovating, improvising, and adapting content, pedagogy, technology platform, and exams, a transformation from purely online to now hybrid. It is only because of them that we are here with our heads held high”, credits Dr Nilesh.
A Practical Approach to Teaching
JLU prides itself as central India’s global university. Its focus remains on application-oriented teaching. It aims to produce socially and ethically conscious managers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. This was one of the first universities that were established under the M.P. Private Higher Education Act in 2013. The promoters were very clear that only university status would provide freedom to determine, upgrade and implement curriculum and pedagogies that help set higher standards. The result of this dedication is that JLU has been awarded the QS IGauge E-Learning Excellence for Academic Digitisation (E-Lead) Certification 2020, India Today and Outlook India, has ranked Jagran School of Journalism and Mass Communication, JLU Bhopal as No.1 in Madhya Pradesh, and top 15 in India in 2020, and the university has been bestowed with several prestigious awards, such as ‘University of the Year’ by Government of Madhya Pradesh for consecutive five years in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019.
Currently, in their first phase of building a stronger foundation for research, JLU is comparatively a new name in the world of academia. Although it has taken time, the results have already begun to show. The university has set higher standards on a publication like Scopus and ABDC, much before UGC care came up. “We have recently announced incentives for publications and stipend for Ph. D. There are dedicated courses that encourage UG/PG students to pursue research independently and in collaboration with faculty”, adds Dr Nilesh.
The board of studies, advisory boards, and leadership at the university boast of international experience and exposure. The JLU family has served with the top global corporation and academic institutions, which has helped them build programs, curricula, adopt pedagogy, train, support, and enrich our faculty to be benchmarked with leading institutes. “How many regional institutes can boast of Harvard cases, internationally professional add-on qualifications, Harvard Business Publishing Online Course Certificates ,leading simulation, video lectures from world-leading corporate leaders and academicians? We do all that! And we are unbelievably affordable for that. Hence we proudly say that Jagran Lakecity University’s Faculty of Management and Commerce offers Unmatched Global Exposure in Management Education. We ask ourselves before every action, decision, and step that will it take us closer to being the university we envision to become”, points out Dr Nilesh.
A diverse pool: The culture at FMC is what makes their faculty members unique as they focus on continuous self-improvement. Some come from rich industry experience in India and abroad, others have thorough academic training from institutes such as IIFM and IIT Roorkee, etc., and some with PhD and teaching experience abroad. Some bring both— international exposure in academia and the corporate world. Having well-exposed faculty who are veterans of diverse backgrounds allows the university to create an environment where everyone learns from each other. It uplifts the collective knowledge bar of the faculty. “The spirit of continuous improvement has lead our faculty pool to be at a place that is much better today and continues to get better by the day”, opines Dr Nilesh.
Operating via Area Groups, typical academic departments organized around areas of faculty expertise such as HR, Finance, Marketing, etc. to improve teaching and research on an ongoing basis, the faculty members meet regularly and share new ideas, brainstorm on research and teaching, set new standards for existing practices, and take initiatives for further improvements. FMC’s annual review process follows goal setting at the beginning of the year, where each faculty sets their own goal for the year for improving their teaching and research, which is assessed on a six monthly basis and performance at the end of the year.
One of the few institutes across India that offers Entrepreneurship courses in affiliation with the Wadhwani Global Foundation, JLU also has MoU with MP State Incubator B-Nest for accessing resources. Some of the faculty members sit on advisory panels, mentor board, and selection committees of incubators and accelerators, including at IIM Kolkata Innovation Park. Access to such courses, resources, and mentors helps nurture students and create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Shaping Industry Leaders of Tomorrow
While JLU has over 55 industry and academic partners worldwide, the FMC-specific partnerships are largely in three countries– UK, Germany, and the USA. They have just begun to expand eastward in Singapore. Most of their partnerships provide students an opportunity for a summer exchange program. “Some of our programmes also offer exchange to UG and pathways for PG program transfers such as 1+3, 2+2 or pathways to PG such as MBA after 3 years of UG with us and without the student having to appear for GRE or GMAT”, adds Dr. Nilesh.
FMC visualizes industry collaboration as the bidirectional flow of knowledge and experience. Guest lectures, co-teaching of courses, internships, and immersion programs are some of the ways industry knowledge flows to their classrooms and students. MDPs, consulting, and flipped classrooms are opportunities where faculty’s knowledge, research, and findings flow back to the industry. The industry visits, Harvard case studies, and lectures from industry titans smoothen the transition of moving from a classroom to the work environment. “We are in the process of intensifying it even more via short-term faculty placement with Industry and industry-specific courses/programs for our students”, adds Dr Nilesh.
Updating their curricula that would synergize across management, commerce, and economic programs, JLU aims to enhance programs in each of these areas with more electives, industry participation and enable custom experience for students. Programs such as BBA (H)/ B Com (H) in Accounting/ Strategic Finance with ACCA and CMA are great opportunities for those who seek add-on global professional qualification with their UG and a pathway to PG abroad. Deepening international linkages to update students with the global trends and innovations and help them be ready to become global professionals while educating right here in the heart of Bhopal, Dr Nilesh concludes, “We are very proud to say that many students from our campus go back to family businesses or entrepreneurship. They find our courses and programs enriching. We have provided them realistic view and competence necessary to succeed. The research opportunities, hands-on learning, and industry intervention make JLU an enabler, and thus the students choose the best path which will be most suitable for them in the long run”.
About Dr Nilesh Khare
Dr Khare is a strategy professional, academic, higher-ed leader corporate advisor, CxO coach, board member, and startup mentor. He brings more than 25 years of experience in his areas of work from the USA, UAE and India. He earned his Ph. D. in Strategy from Fisher College of Business, the Ohio State University, USA, and taught there. He also taught at two universities in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Dr Khare also holds PGDBA in Finance and Marketing, CFA from ICFAI Business School Hyderabad, and B. E. (TC & Electronics) from NIT Jaipur. Currently, he is a Professor of Strategy, and the Dean Faculty of Management, Commerce & Economics at Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal, India. He oversees Jagran Lakecity Business School (JLBS) and JLU School of Commerce and Economics. He serves as a member of the academic council and the board of management of the university. He is leading the transition of the schools and helping the university emerge as an international quality academic institute. He occasionally visits IIMs, IIFM, and other premier institutes to teach in Ph. D. and MBA programmes.