“There is no better way than Higher Education to transform the fortunes of a Nation”, Jim Milton, CEO, Campus Management Corp

“There is no better way than Higher Education to transform the fortunes of a Nation”,
Jim Milton, CEO, Campus Management Corp

“There is no better way than Higher Education to transform the fortunes of a Nation”.  Jim Milton, CEO, Campus Management Corp

  “Skilling for Employability & Education for Knowledge both need to be synthesized for India’s rise as a superpower”, Raj Mruthyunjayappa, Managing Director (APAC), Campus Management Corp

The larger mandate & vision of New India which has been extolled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has generated a lot of interest and excitement as it provides an opportunity to each and every serious stakeholder to think beyond the incremental and strategize for the transformational. A need is thereby felt to look beyond the conventional confines of bureaucratic machinery & be on the lookout for newer partners in the fray. ReTHINK INDIA has thereby instituted this New India Dialogue whereby it shall invoke a larger cross section of thinkers & tinkerers and seek their views & designs for future.

We start off this dialogue focussing our attention towards the Higher Education Community. In what all ways can it empower itself and participate pro-actively to accomplish this aspirational vision of New India. This acted as the background of this maiden conversation under the New India Dialogue.

Campus Management Corp acts as the engine of growth for some of the leading Universities in over 20 countries including USA & India. It’s enterprise grade technology solutions are specifically designed for Higher Educational Institutions of all hues, which is quite differentiated from other players for whom education happens to be yet another vertical in their portfolio. This super specialization probably gives Campus Management Corp a defining edge in being the conscience keeper of the contemporary flows & oracle of the futuristic shape of higher education and how it shall shape the society at large.

We got the great good fortune to talk at length over phone with John Milton, CEO of the Florida Head Quartered Campus Management Corp along with Raj Mruthyunjayappa, its Managing Director for APAC.

Hope the readers shall find this a worthwhile exercise. Inputs, comments and suggestions are most welcome at editor@rethinkindia.in.

{ReTHINK India} :: At a time when the vision of creating a New India has been extolled by the Prime Minister, what role & relevance do you see of Higher Education Establishment of the country in advancing the same, drawing from the Global experience which Campus Management Corp is privy of?

{Raj Mruthyunjayappa}

When you look at the mission of the current government, one thing is essentially clear that employability is a fix factor in everything we are trying to do. 5 million jobs are to be created on an annual basis to sustain this huge influx of youth coming into the market. Lots of good initiatives like Skill India are all directed towards the same need.

However, when we ponder over the broader vision as to where the country is heading towards, we get conscious of the fact that we need to double up the number of people being skilled and that too in a short period of time. It’s quite evident that the linear way to do the same is not going to happen. We would need to get innovative in order to reap rapid but best results.

Campus Management as a tech platform gives that leapfrogging scalability to achieve this very vision of New India laid down by the government. 

{ReTHINK India} :: What are some of the impelling case studies where Campus Management played a role in accomplishing the national agenda? 

{Jim Milton}

Campus Management operates in around 20 countries today, India as well as the US are its major focus markets. We have been in the US market for many years.

Education System in the US has much higher Gross Enrollment Ratios. There is ample diversity of institution types across the spectrum. We have seen particularly in the US relevance of online education, competency based education, accelerated programmes for various student needs through enabling systems.

Even in the emerging markets of Uganda, Kenya, Malaysia the impact of Higher Education has been quite profound allowing the transformation of these nations. There is no better way than Higher Education to transform the fortunes of a nation.

The expertise from the US market can be adopted elsewhere as well. The variety of programmes offered which may be Career education oriented as they are called as vocational schools in India which offer associate degrees for becoming nursing assistants, x ray technicians etc. are so very relevant for initiatives like Skill India.

{ReTHINK India} :: Would you like to further elaborate on the theme of having a Diversity of Institutional types & Delivery methodologies

{Jim Milton}

Our view is that having a diversity of delivery methodologies is a national advantage. This is one of the reasons why the US Higher Education system has been successful. It has not been merely because of the idyllic schools like MITs.

The needs of the Students are diverse and an educational ecosystem need to keep student at the centre of its Universe. They should be able to get education on their own terms through accelerated and guided pathways.

That’s an advantage by all means. Thankfully many institutions in India are moving towards the same. Quicker the better.

{ReTHINK India} :: What do you think can be Government’s role in facilitating these twin tracks?

{Raj Mruthyunjayappa}

Well there are two different things. Education is also about knowledge management apart from imparting employable skills. You build knowledge which ultimately goes on to building research. We just cannot absolutely ignore it. There has to be a balance between the two dimensions. We as a country can’t survive without it. We need to build an ecosystem around a research driven approach of education whereby global knowledge is amply encapsulated driving the students beyond mere skills & jobs.

Where government can help is probably to bring them together – employment & knowledge. As the education is becoming expensive, the government can set up an ecosystem whereby students can employ themselves while they study for knowledge. This cultural shift has to happen if India has to embark upon a New India.

Taking up a job doesn’t mean an end to education. It can happen only when we have flexibility introduced to programme management which shall enable more people getting involved in the pursuit of knowledge.

{ReTHINK India} :: How prepared do you find India’s Higher Education Institutions playing the aforesaid role of contributing pro-actively to the emerging national narrative? 

{Raj Mruthyunjayappa}

See, preparedness has to be seen from a multiplicity of parameters.

Preparedness in academic proficiency means that institutions can they deliver quality lecture to students. You can’t multiply it rapidly. This develops over time.

Preparedness in terms of academic infrastructure is something which is vital for the scalability of higher education. The largest gap as of now is on this count. The right systems and processes need to be deployed to leverage technology infrastructure.

Knowledge need to be shared across all organizations. You can’t contain the best faculty in one IIT or one IIM. Their expertise can be utilized pan-india if we have scalable academic infrastructure. Global Education, Global Content can be leveraged if you have scalable academic infrastructure. However, you need policy level decisions for leapfrogging on this.

Preparedness as in maintaining a global standard whereby students are carved so that that they can be applied globally is a long way to go that shall need a more involved approach.

{ReTHINK India}:: What are the trends that will change the way Higher Education Institutions operate globally? 

{Jim Milton}

Students coming in Higher Education today are very different from previous generations. Internet, Mobile Phones, Things on Demand – Google Search, Mobile App to Call Taxi, Order things through Amazon are some of the trends which have got established firmly today. That’s vastly different.

Older Institutions have thereby to gear up themselves towards this change.

You have to redress the dilemma as to put faculty first or students first.  Most institutions are finding it tough to cope up with this emerging trend.

Knowledge delivery in organizations is critical. Changes are dramatically influencing this. Newer knowledge is being created every passing day. A trend of continuous association with the institution where one underwent a 4 year programme is emerging. After a span of 3-4 years, students come back for additional skills in the same programme catering to the latest trends. Why couldn’t institutions offer this programme online for their old students?

{ReTHINK India} :: What are some of the best practices that Campus management considers should be institutional priorities?

{Jim Milton}

Helping Institutions deploy technology is one of the key expertise areas of Campus Management.

Making educational ecosystem scalable is one of the priorities we advocate for. Your institution might be catering to some 2000 – 5000 students through a 4 year programme. You may better better be implementing a scalable infrastructure and system to rapidly grow in student count, types of programme being offered etc. There has to be an agility within your environment which can cater to the different modalities of education.

Consolidation of existing administrative processes is yet another institutional priority which releases a lot of captive bandwidth. A lot of Registration & Examination process can be brought into the mould of Self-Service through Automation which shall require Rewriting & Re-Implementing best practices & processes. All this would require to look at the entire student lifecycle.

{Raj Mruthyunjayappa}

Well, with all quotas and reservation in place and with multiple sources of  Recruitment of the Students, priority of the students get different depending on the Reservation based or merit based entry.

One of the best practice is to understand and thereby track the priority of the student so that knowledge sharing can be directed in a right way. There need to be a mechanism to categorise, a path to choose and a methodology to implement this.

{ReTHINK India} :: The second edition of India Rankings 2017 under the NIRF Framework has shown the emergence of some of the privately held institutions doing at par with the publicly funded ones. What in your opinion has been their winning edge?

{Jim Milton}

I am not surprised by the way. We have seen the same phenomenon in the US. Diversity of Institutions is an advantage for a nation. Different types, sizes, mission focus create a continuum for competition and innovation.

When more of these institutions have to compete for the same student, the better it would be. In a free market system when you tend to spend more money on academics rather than administration you bring a business orientation to the table. Why are we not doing this just because we have been something else for past so many years, becomes a key consideration.

Public Institutions can be equally good or better. They simply have to develop a business mentality, a consumer centric mentality to cope up in this disruptive environment.

Public universities have to re-invent themselves. At a time when students are technology literate, they would have to improve upon their operational efficiency.

If each of the category of institution does that, it shall be a good thing for India which intends to march ahead to become a New India.

{ReTHINK India}:: What is that single most dominant component which make winning institutions across the globe?

{Jim Milton}

I would like to give you two or probably three.

  1. Mission Focus :: I know what I am good at
  2. Student First
  3. Constant adaptation and growth

{ReTHINK India} :: The ready availability of dependable authentic data across the functions remains a challenge for processing India Rankings under NIRF. Can automation help this cause of providing a real time sneak peek into the functioning of publicly funded institutions?

{Jim Milton}

The first thing information has to be available in system somewhere, the learning outcomes, the graduation rates, satisfaction levels and the so many different variables that go into ranking.

Before embarking upon this Longitudinal analysis, as you rank against others, you need to improve within your own institution. For this you need data available into an infrastructure and system so that you can deploy real time analytics, visualization tools and big data tools in order to make decisions and take corrective actions to optimize your institution.

It’s only then you are prepared enough to compete against other institutions, which to my view need to be a secondary consideration. Am I setting goals, am I achieving them need to be the domination one. Evaluation of your very own performance is critical.

You tend to wait anxiously for these rankings. You tend to compare yourself with others without having the adequate tools to evaluate yourself.

A lot of institutional changes are incremental. It would be much better if I have that real time data available with the competence to process it at once for my own consumption.

{ReTHINK India} ::  You do spearhead an organisation which has watched the emergence of Higher Education across the globe. What would be your prescription to the HRD Minister if he seeks one from you?

{Jim Milton}

Investment in Technology would top my list of prescriptions to the Hon’ble HRD Minister. That’s the only way you are going to scale up. If you want to double up the number of students, you are not going to add 34000 colleges/universities. How long does it take to create a building and procure the requisite land for the same? We have to get the gross enrollment dramatically in india. Students who are coming out of 12th are looking for affordable options, diversity of options as in skills education, under graduate programmes etc.

Extending adequate funding support for accentuating a national drive for Technology Adoption would be next on my priority prescription. The way readily available funding mechanisms has been made available for the skilling programme, the same can be facilitated for the wider adoption of technology.

In US, the federal government alone makes available over 160 billion USD in financial aid to the students annually. That’s the importance accorded to Higher Education out there.

{Raj Mruthyunjayappa}

I would like to emphasize upon the issue of Quality. With the number of private universities coming in the fray, the big question which everyone is asking is about the quality of higher education.

Education is being a seen as a battery to create employable graduates. However we need to champion the triad of knowledge, skill, attitude. You need a blending in order to get onto the goal of quality education. You can’t produce exceptional professionals without this juxtaposition of this triad of knowledge, skill, attitude.

For this you ought to tap into global networks, pan-India networks. The coming together of mind producing knowledge without having to compromise location. We are still talking about networking of universities while networking of students should be the focus going forward. This would need a significant change in the philosophy surrounding education.

Comments are closed.