Continuity of learning in the changing reality

Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These nationwide closures are impacting over 91% of the world’s student population. During these unprecedented times, technology has come to aid education at all levels

These are exceptional times, with uncertainty looming in every part of the world. Everyone is directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic and is hoping for things to get back to normal soon. At such a time, students who are graduating or looking for admissions in higher educational institutions are worried. Their parents, too, are anxious about their child’s future. In this context, UPES conducted a webinar to understand how the world of academics is coping up with the present situation and how well are they prepared for the future.

To find the answers to learning in a brave new world, Dr. Akhshay Malhotra, Director Products, Innovation and Development, Global University Systems (GUS) India, interacted with Dr. Sunil Rai, Vice-Chancellor, UPES. Notably, along with the necessary academic pedigree, Dr. Rai also has an experience of over 20 years in the armed forces. Excerpts:

How is UPES dealing with the current crisis?

We, at UPES, are positive and energetic; even more energetic than before. We understand that it is going to be a different world; in fact, it already is a different world. This is the new normal. We are fortunate to be part of an integrated society, which has done well in these trying times.

At UPES, business is normal as usual. We are conducting all the classes online. 95% of all our academic schedules are being met (the remaining 5% include practical and lab-work). We have figured out smart ways of simulation and are on schedule as far as syllabus completion is concerned.

Rest assured, our students are going to graduate on the date planned. All this has been made possible thanks to the commendable job by my faculty, students and their parents, who are ensuring that their children remain connected to us.

  • Change is already upon us, with several industries such as telemedicine, moving online. We always knew it was going to happen, but the current circumstances have sped up the process. Where do you see education in this change?

We are talking about learning in the changing reality. The world has realised, albeit the hard way that when disaster strikes, you have to be prepared.

Going forward, we will refer to the world as before and after COVID-19 – there was a different world before Corona and there will be a very different one post the pandemic.

We have been talking about flip classrooms and online learning. We have enhanced blackboard services and trained our faculty. However, we must understand that resources cannot be consumed more than the carrying capacity. The whole model of the education system has to change; it has to change to deal with the new world that will dawn upon us.

UPES as an academic institution is on the right track. What would you like to tell the students and their parents who are anxious about admissions?

The admissions are going as usual. All our applications across the programs have gone up by almost 35% in comparison to the same month last year. This increase in the number of applications indicates the trust people have upon UPES; they have faith that we will be able to deliver.

We are doing well and will extend our support to the world in every capacity we can. Students who are seeking admissions abroad may not be able to travel for another six months. We have partnered with like-minded universities globally and are constantly in touch with them. Students who cannot travel abroad can take admissions at UPES, where we have the capacity of over 13000 students.

Tests and interviews are being conducted online. It was only a mindset issue that we have been able to resolve, and the proof is in the numbers. Students and parents should not worry at all about admissions. Everything is being taken online.

  • What is your message to students about maintaining discipline during work/study from home?

This is a higher level of actualisation. Nobody tells the sun to rise in the morning and set in the evening. If I respect myself and my family and my work, it is my duty as a human being to ensure that I am true to the promise that I have made. Discipline should not be enforced; it is a promise one makes to himself or herself and keeps it. As a student, it is your job to prepare yourself for tomorrow.

You are going to be the leaders of the world. Why do you need anyone else to discipline you? It should come to you by yourself.

To watch the webinar recording, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DS9pe_n6WVg&feature=emb_logo

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