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In conversation with the Dean of Academics

October 10, 2015

The administration and the students might not share the same standpoint if it came down to tagging certain campus issues as problems. Chances of seeing eye to eye in the choice of solutions to issues that both parties even agreed on tagging as problems might prove to be bleak. Discussing affairs in a conversation with Professor Pramod Agarwal, the Dean of Academics, Watch Out! tries to find answers to some (often unanswered) questions. An insight into the system’s modus operandi:

On feedback forms -

WONA: The close of every semester requires the filling out of feedback forms by the students. How are these response forms handled and how do they contribute to the constitution of the teaching staff in the semesters that follow?
DoA: The response forms help the teachers learn where improvements can be made in the teaching pattern. Officially the HOD may ask the teacher to do the same if the student feedback reflects high levels of dissatisfaction. In addition to this, the response forms serve as one of the bases while shelling out the Outstanding Teacher Award every year.

WONA: Little in the system seems to have changed despite the students’ feedback being repeatedly negative in several cases. Do we have any other forum through which the students can voice their opinions? Or any other body that addresses pedagogical grievances or academic queries through direct student-professor interaction?
DoA: We have now started the online response forms which are considered to be more authentic. As for the student-teacher interaction, every department is supposed to have a Student Consultative Committee. The Electrical Department has one such functioning committee, with the HOD, chairman DRP, chairman DAPC and student representatives from every year. The committee meets twice a semester and based on the feedback received, a lot of improvements have been made in the system. In most of the other departments, however, this committee has not yet been formed.

On Undergraduate research -

WONA: Do we have a defined procedure to take projects up at the Undergraduate level? The absence of proper procedural knowledge makes it no picnic to start working on a topic of interest.
DoA: Interested students can approach the faculty members directly. To help the students with this, we have already notified and requested all the departments to maintain displays of the information relevant to projects at the UG as well as the PG level. Deals for purchasing LCD screens for the same are underway. We also aim to start an annual newsletter intended to carry the details regarding B.Tech, M.Tech and consultancy projects for each department.

WONA: Many students face problems while trying to take up interdisciplinary projects for their BTP. Is there a possibility that they might be denied the permission because grading becomes difficult with the involvement of more than one department?
DoA: No, not at all. In the last few years I have seen students taking up interdisciplinary B.Tech projects. The Committee from the mother department goes to the other department in order to carry out the evaluation of the project. Of course, if the student himself has contacted the faculty members or if they already have a project running in collaboration with each other, it is up to them to decide what the problems in engaging a student under the project can be.

On rules and fines -

WONA: In order to repeat a course and avoid an year back, how does the payment of Rs.45,000 as penalty by the students justify being a solution ?
DoA: As per the rule, you cannot register for the 3rd year if you haven’t cleared the 1st year and if you have not cleared 2nd year, you cannot, similarly, register for the 4th year. I would, in fact, say that it’s a Rs.45,000 discount because being unable to register for the 3rd year owing to a hold-up in the 1st sem would demand you to skip that particular sem while paying its fees nonetheless. This means working for an additional sem and thus, an extension in your stay here. Paying the fine lets you complete your degree within the designated time interval.

WONA: In addition to the 5 CGPA expulsion rule, has any other rule been implemented in this direction ?
DoA: We have completely revamped the grading system for the first year in order to get rid of the anomalies in the 5 CGPA rule. We are now planning to implement a new rule that outlines that if a student fails in 1 or 2 courses in the 1st year, he will be put under “low pace” category, requiring him/her to complete the course in 5 or 6 years, instead of 4 years. The 5 CGPA rule is only for the 1st yearites. The low pace course shall, however, apply to all the students from the first three years in college and so, will not bank on this rule.

WONA: What sort of assistance do the students put under academic probation get from the system? There was some talk of a Student Mentorship Programme earlier this year.
DoA: Meetings with these students are being conducted and they are being advised to be more regular and careful about their studies. As for the Student Mentorship Programme, I personally feel that we cannot have a system for everything. You are always free to consult the faculty and your seniors whenever you need guidance. In fact, I always ask my students to come to me for clearing doubts in any subject. If I can solve, I will definitely help.