The Indian education system completely transformed itself during the pandemic. Bihog Infomedia talks to Prof (Dr) Saikat Maitra – Vice-Chancellor of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, West Bengal (MAKAUT, WB), on how the University is coping up and helping students in this period.

How did you switch to online education due to COVID?

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), WB had been already aware of the importance of the use of digital methods as effective teaching-learning tools. As we had done the groundwork earlier, it has become easy for the faculties, staffs and the students of the University to adopt online modes. The University has been resorting to such application of Digital Pedagogy by organizing meetings, webinars and classes in online platforms. After the outbreak of Corona Pandemic, from April to June, there were 1.8 lakh online classes, with 60 lakh attendees.

We are putting emphasis on entrepreneurship, particularly social entrepreneurship, with a view to make the students “job providers“, rather than “job seekers

How do you ensure that people from marginal backgrounds are not left behind in attending online classes?

We shall be reaching out to the students with learning materials, either through the digital media, or devices (sending them the study material by putting them on pen-drive or similar device) or by sending print copies, thereby effectively addressing the issue of “digital divide”. Actually, we shall be following an inclusive approach, so that people from marginal backgrounds are not left behind.

What changes did the University implement this year?

This year the University took resort to a plethora of changes to guide the students in the choice of their career path. These are:

Introduction of B. Sc, M.Sc. and Management level Certification and Diploma courses in a large number of subjects which are more important from the point of view of employment generation:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cyber Security
  • Gaming and Mobile App Development
  • Internet of Things
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology
  • Geoinformatics
  • Hospital Management
  • Digital Marketing (in collaboration with Cambridge Marketing College, London)
  • MBA
  • Animation, Film Making, Graphics and VFX
  • Food Science & Technology
  • Robotics & 3-D Printing
  • Blockchain Technology
  • Pharmaceutical Analysis
  • Pharmacovigilance

Recently we have also ventured into the arena of humanities & social science and introduced B.SC. and M.Sc. programmes in Economics, Statistics and Psychology.

We have Introduced Diploma and Certificate Courses with a number of Partnership institutes. Some of these are:

  • Digital Marketing with Cambridge Marketing College,
  • London Animation and Film Making with Webel-DQE,
  • Animation Academy Pharmacovigilance with Wipro Financial Markets,
  • Financial Technology and Data Science with BSE,
  • Institute Animation with Hitech Animation

Encouraging to Study in Bengal

MAKAUT, WB is welcoming students from foreign countries and also from other Indian states, who are returning to West Bengal amidst this pandemic. In many cases, they are unable or not willing to go back due to the crisis. They will be able to continue studies in MAKAUT or any of its affiliated college in a matching discipline, subject to the approval of the concerned authority of the University. This is a landmark step to help the students whose learning process and career-building could have been in doldrums otherwise.

How are you planning to evaluate students in the coming year?

The new session will begin in online mode due to the ongoing corona pandemic. There will be evaluations based on Continuous Assessments, as per University norms and those too will be in online mode. MAKAUT is emphasizing on blended teaching methods, online and offline, and putting emphasis on co-learning. The decisions regarding future evaluation techniques will be taken after observing the pandemic situation.

What are your future plans?

We have been observing that many stereotyped courses are not always able to guarantee employment to the new-comers in the job market, at the same time prospects of new jobs and entrepreneurship are opening up every day in new and innovative fields. The new opportunities are mainly opening up through the application of digital methods in the mode of teaching and in courses with a digital orientation. Keeping this in mind we have introduced an array of innovative In-House Courses recently.

In future, we shall be introducing more and more innovative courses to enhance the employability of the future generation. For example, the university has also inaugurated a modern state-of-the-art Centre for Digital Healthcare and Technology in pursuit of academics, research, consultancy and higher learning in the field. It will initiate research and academic programmes on emerging domains of Digital Health, Tele-medicine, Robotics, Bio-Medical Engineering and Technology.

Inauguration of centres like, Centre for Precision Agriculture and Centre for Archaeology and Heritage Site Reconstruction are also in the pipeline.

We are putting emphasis on entrepreneurship, particularly social entrepreneurship, with a view to make the students “job providers“, rather than “job seekers“, and lead them towards a prosperous life. With this aim in view, an Entrepreneurship Cell has been created. Presently it is encouraging the production of hand sanitizers, masks, PPEs and other personal care items.