Jain to script a New Chapter in Kerala’s Higher Education
Kochi: There was a time when students from Kerala literally flocked to colleges in neighbourhood states for higher education. Taking into consideration various prospects and availability of courses and seats in colleges outside Kerala, it has always been the first thought that came to the minds of both parents as well their children planning to pursue higher education. The scenario is changing now as universities from outside are finding place in Kerala.
The Bengaluru-based Jain (Deemed-to-be University), which established its new campus in Kochi, has chosen Dr. J Letha as its Pro Vice Chancellor
The Bengaluru-based Jain (Deemed-to-be University) has established its new campus in Kochi. The fact that a considerable number of students securing admissions to its higher education courses belong to Kerala prompted JGI Group, the promoters of Jain, to set up its campus in the State when it received ‘Graded Autonomy’ status from the UGC that entitles them to start two more campuses within India and three outside the country. Accredited with ‘A’ Grade by National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India (NAAC), Jain was also featured in QS World Rankings 2018 and has been ranked 351-400 among 9000 institutions in the BRICS component.
Jain’s Kochi campus is located at Knowledge Park within Infopark Kochi and the management is all set to commence classes in the new academic year from July 2019. They say well begun is half done. And in the case of Jain this is true as it got none other than Dr. J Letha, former Vice Chancellor of CUSAT, as the Pro Vice Chancellor of its campus in Kerala. With around four decades of experience in academia, Letha also served as the Principal of College of Engineering Trivandrum (CET), Director of Technical Education, Government of Kerala and Vice Chancellor (in-charge) of A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University. A professor of Engineering by profession, she was the 13th Vice Chancellor of CUSAT as well as the first woman to decorate the post.
“I consider this as a great opportunity to set a new benchmark for higher education in Kerala leveraging my experience,” says Dr. Letha, in an exclusive chat with Destination Kerala at her office in Kochi.“Having worked with several State-owned educational institutions for long, I know what’s lacking and what all can be done to improve the quality of higher education in Kerala. We have excellent faculty and infrastructure in Government institutions. However, decision-making process has always been an issue. Since lot of stakeholders are involved, it is really difficult to get things done even if one sincerely wants to do something. Here it is different. The management has a clear vision about what has to be done. The curriculum and pedagogy are hands-on, distinctive and contemporary. Students are challenged to be enterprising and think independently. Jain is also known for encouraging and promoting entrepreneurship,” she says.
In the current academic year, Jain offers admission to various degree courses such as BCom, BBA, BSc, BA and post graduate courses like MCom, MSc and MA.So, how are these courses different at Jain? “Academic partnership with international agencies makes an educational institution globally competent. At Jain, all our courses are internationally-accredited. Take for instance, the case of a student who joins BCom (for professional studies), which includes the global business service management module integrated with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), UK. On successful completion of the course, the student will have to write only four exams to get ACCA certification. If the student is applying for it separately, he will have to clear all the 12 exams besides remitting a hefty sum as fee. Likewise, all our courses are integrated with international agencies, mostly in the UK. Moreover, we will also provide special coaching for students to qualify certification programmes,” Dr. Letha explains.Further, Dr. Letha has plans to ensure that the course curriculum would be appropriate for making students employable.
“In foreign countries, industries engage with educational institutions and entrust projects to students on a regular basis. Likewise, on our Kochi campus, we will have a separate schedule where students can visit industries and have hands-on experience. In government institutions, it is not possible for obvious reasons. Secondly, we will provide continuous training to the faculty to help them adopt the latest pedagogical techniques. It is highly important that the teachers stay up-to-date with recent developments in their respective topics,” she says.
However, Dr. Letha makes it clear that the objective is not to groom students exclusively for the corporate or the industries sector. “The idea is to ensure that the students have a fair idea of how industries function and what all technologies are put to use. Along with its academic endeavours, Jain is also known for promoting entrepreneurship. Students will get an opportunity to start their own company with the support of Chenraj Roychand Centre for Entrepreneurship,” she explains.
Probably, from the next academic year onwards, Jain Kochi campus will have engineering courses as well. According to Dr. Letha, Kerala is a bit saturated in terms of number of engineering colleges. “However, when it comes to quality of learning and infrastructure, the situation is bad. Here is where Jain’s Kochi campus will make a difference,” she says.
Dr. Letha feels that poor treatment meted out to the faculty of most of the self-financing engineering colleges is the reason for the sorry state of affairs in the State’s higher education sector. “Around 100 engineering colleges are more than enough for a State like Kerala. We had around 190 colleges some time ago. However, the number has come down to less than 160 now. Due to poor pay and emoluments, the attrition rate is high among private college faculties. This affects the quality of teaching and subsequently, the pass rate of students will also decline. This, in turn, will tarnish the reputation of the institution and consequently, affect the admissions in the subsequent academic years. Before assuming the present post, I got the opportunity to visit Jain’s headquarters in Bengaluru and understand that the faculty are reasonably well paid,” she says.
Dr. Letha has served on the Governing Boards of IIT Madras, IIITMK, NIT Calicut, University of Kerala, LBS Institute of Technology and Kerala State Pollution Control Board. As the Technical Education Director, she played a significant role in introducing e-governance at the Directorate, setting up of Technological University, establishing Trivandrum Science and Technology Park and upgrading the State’s polytechnics with Central assistance.
For details on admission, visit www.jainuniversity.ac.in/kochi or call: +91 484 4355555,