Only those students with the capacity to adapt to changes will survive change, says Geoffery E Petts, vice chancellor, University of Westminster, UK in conversation with Prachi Rege.
1) What is the agenda of your visit to India?
I am here to meet our current academic partners and also sign some important partnerships that will facilitate student and faculty mobilty between the two countries. We are also here to connect with our alumni network in order to facilitate internships and job opportunities for Indian students who graduate from Westminster. I believe that an alumni association is an important resource for universities to collaborate with. It is through them that we can ensure that international students who return home are able to get jobs. Employment is a long term process and students need to be adequately skilled for the same.
2) Students need to be skilled….kindly elaborate on this?
Students must focus on making themselves adaptable and flexible in their worklife. They need to think about being on the job and employable even in 2050. As the world changes, the rules of the job and employability will also undergo a change. Even the technical and soft skills needed for the same will be different. Only those with the capacity to adapt to these changes will survive on the job in the long run.
3) What kind of skills do you look for in international students?
Though we prefer to admit students with A levels and a basic competency in Math and English, these are just another check boxes to smarten up a students’ CV. What we are really looking for is the ability of the students to think on their feet, energy to learn new things, motivation to solve problems and how best they will use their degree when they return home. However, if you have the skill, then we can train you.
4)What are the new age courses becoming popular with students?
It is an era of multidisciplinary study. This applies to both the medium of teaching and the subjects. Education institutions should deliver course modules with a combination of traditional theoritical methods with practical ones of the 21st century. It is all about interface between different subjects. For example, electronic engineering and life science can be combined to fill in the gap of biomedical technicans. Smart living in the global warming era has led to the need of combining electronics with architecture to build eco friendly buildings and townships. With the world of media going the digital way, media students need to have enough electronics skills to be in the field.
5) What are the new partnerships that you are seeking on in this visit?
We have signed an MOU with NMIMS Universityand will run a student and faculty exchange programme. In a few months, one of our faculty members will visit India to interact with the NMIMS counterparts. Faculty training is very important as they drive the training process. We have also set up a smart lab with Delhi`s School of Planning and Architecture through which students and professors will connect real time through video chats and webinars with their counterparts at Westminster to facilitate concept and idea exchange in the architectural field.