The COVID-19 crisis and the resulting lockdowns have affected nearly every sector of the global economy, but some have been upended. Lockdowns and travel bans have had an immediate impact on higher education institutions across the world. With campus life unlikely to return to normal, students have gone home, staffing has been reduced, and many academics are now working from home. Even as lockdowns ease, campus life will not return to normal. Although domestic applications may remain high, international students will be scarce, while many institutions now intend to do at least some of their teaching online.
With the education pattern switching from traditional classes to digital/virtual classes through video conferencing apps, the staff of Vidyabharati College of Pharmacy (VBCOP) have been able to teach and guide their students and help them understand the perks and perils of online platforms and regular classrooms lessons. “With the sudden announcement of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID19 outbreak, we faced problems financially due to regular students not being able to deposit their fees, which they got through by using their corpus fund to manage their regular expenses and pay their employees their monthly salary”, points out Dr Kiran Tapar, Principal, VBCOP.
According to the guidelines laid out by the Govt. of Maharashtra, the institute was shut down during the lockdown, and the faculty members covered the rest of the syllabus by adopting digital means and conducting online classes through Google Classrooms and Google Meet. VBCOP has also taken precautionary measures once the ‘Unlock’ was announced by regularly sanitising the premises to overcome the chances of the infection spreading. “Through our active units like NSS and GEMS, we have conducted health awareness camps, online webinars, and promotional videos for public awareness against COVID19. Also, we hosted a workshop on ‘how to make sanitisers’ to train the non-teaching faculty and acquaint them regarding the precautionary measures to take during the crisis”, adds Dr Kiran.
Developing Students into Professionals
Established in 1983, VBCOP offers undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma courses, with specialisation in Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology & Quality Assurance. In 2005, the Research Laboratory at the institute was approved by SGBAU in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an intake of 16 seats. Envisioning to be perceived as a prevalent institute for promoting transcendence in pharmacy discipline to coddle the urge for profession and humanity, Providing a conducive environment to escalate problem-solving perspectives, forethought ability and effective communication skills in budding pharmacists, VBCOP promotes ethical and professional values to prepare sustainable and competent workforce having a professional identity with a sense of social responsibility. Dr Kiran says, “We aspire to achieve transcendence by creating a learning environment and providing facilities for creative thinking and personality development”.
Playing a very important role in shaping the overall personality of the students apart from their academic knowledge, students get a chance to have hands-on experience of industrial workings through Industry- Institute Interactions. VBCOP has signed MOUs with neighbouring industries like Glacier, Priest Pharmaceuticals, Dayasagar Hospital, to name a few, to help their students understand the workings of the industry practically. Also, the institute’s active Training and Placement department and E.D. Cell, which carries out career guidance programs, lectures by industry experts and hands-on training sessions make the students will-acquainted with the industrial workings and the current GMP’s. “We also conduct regular visits to the companies to give our students the first-hand experience, that also helps to shape them into better professionals”, quips Dr Kiran.
Also housing the Mentor and Mentee system, the institute provides the students with strong and supportive mentors. They counsel them on career choices, academic performance and help them overcome their personal weakness. The students are under continuous assessment under their Mentors in various arenas, which they guide them on in the coming days. “Based on continuous assessment students are categorised as Bright & weak students, weak students are motivated for hard work high personal counselling sessions & by conducting Remedial classes which will benefit them to complete their assignments- Students have developed a very modernised Resonance Center, Counseling of Books above 13 K and having subscription of national Level Digital Libraries”, says Dr Kiran.
Collaboration with industry is critical for academia to create scientific knowledge and obtain industrial data. In turn, collaboration with universities is crucial for organisations in joint, scientific-based research projects to develop solutions for production-sourced problems. By establishing industry-institute interactions to escalate industrial perspective for improving employability, entrepreneurship skills, industrial competency and to prosper lifelong learning, VBCOP has developed a Pilot Plant, that has all sections like Tablet, Liquid oral, Capsule Section; Ointment, to give their students hands-on training with Projects on Development and Formulation. “We motivate our students by showing them videos related to the functioning of industries and participating in webinars to cover topics beyond their syllabus, along with having MOUs with various industries, government departments and hospitals”, adds Dr Kiran.
Grooming Students for a Brighter Future
VBCOP aspires to help their students gain pharmacy knowledge, leadership skills, communication skills, a sense of responsibility towards society, environment sustainability and code of conduct and ethics. “Our students have the upper hand in tackling pharmaceutical problems using the neo-emerging technologies, from our guidance in their education and skills, that helps them survive and sustain in the emerging pharmaceutical industry”, opines Dr Kiran. Having a well-developed Placement and Training Cell, VBCOP has placed its employees in well-reputed organisations like Acugenia Pharma, Jenburkt Pharmaceuticals, National Medicals, Lebel Pharmaceuticals and GeBBs Healthcare Solutions. The institute also has a General Event and Management Society that promotes innovation and develops creative skills among students. The society provides a platform to the students to showcase their talent and includes cultural activities, sports carnival, trade fair and literary events. Dr Kiran adds, “We also arrange co-curricular activities like seminars, symposium, paper presentations. Along with this, we have been represented at national and international levels by our alumni who were serving the society before, who are working in the academic, healthcare, industry as well as entrepreneurial sector, who are doing their bit to provide their services to the healthcare system”.
Enhancing the faculty’s industrial exposure, the VBCOP plans to update their research projects, publications, patents along with raising their placements through industry-institute interactions. In the long run, the institute plans to improve funding from external research agencies. “We are in talks of collaborating with various National and International Institutes/Research Organisations/ Industries and enhance our consultancy activities, to help our students increase their global knowledge, making them equipped for the industry”, concludes Dr Kiran.
About Dr Kiran Tapar
A postgraduate in pharmacy from M.S. University of Boroda, Dr Kiran Thapar has over 10 years of industry experience and he has been associated with Vidyabharati family from the last 34 years. Having published 34 paper in national and international journals, Dr Kiran also works as a consultant for various industries that formulate and develop food and drugs. Playing an integral role in almost 4 major projects with the pharmaceutical industry, Dr Kiran aspires to create and develop new products in both the pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical sector.