The impact of COVID-19 on professional courses and their future in the post COVID era

March 22, 2021 2:37 PM

Crisis gives birth to new opportunities. COVID-19 is one of the biggest crisis the human race saw in the recent past. It created a huge impact on every sphere of human life.

educationThe education sector saw some fundamental changes during COVID-19. Online classes became norms for the last year

By Prof. Rajat Agrawal,

Crisis gives birth to new opportunities. COVID-19 is one of the biggest crisis the human race saw in the recent past. It created a huge impact on every sphere of human life. It is possible to explain the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19. On one side use of digital tools, virtual meetings, strengthening healthcare infrastructure, research for vaccine became possible due to COVID impact and on another side, many small-scale industries, small businessmen suffered huge losses.

The education sector saw some fundamental changes during COVID-19. Online classes became norms for the last year. Many professionals used this time to reskill themselves. At the same time, Universities and Institutes of national importance started some innovative online degree courses. UGC guidelines of 2018 and new education policy helped universities with flexible online programmes. COVID 19 crisis forced computer professionals to develop good quality virtual labs. These labs cannot replace physical labs but became very useful in online teaching.

Professional courses like engineering and management became more relevant during COVID19. It gave a new boost to science and technology. Fortunately, the government of India also used this time to promote “AtmaNirbhar Bharat” which fuelled the demand for skilled manpower in the Indian market. However, it is also true that skill sets are changing very fast. COVID 19 has identified few important trends. Hyperconnectivity, cloud computing, a smarter world, cybersecurity, supercomputing will be some of the areas for which skilled manpower will be needed. Most of the new age universities are designing B Tech. courses around Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc. It is important to note that traditional degrees are being replaced by some of the new degrees which are required by the industry. Universities are rapidly adopting the hybrid model of teaching for professional courses. Students can get access to the best resources at the lowest cost in all subjects. Many start-ups and established players found a new opportunity in this area.

Various companies involved in online education are collaborating with leading institutions to offer online degree courses. COVID-19 allowed working professionals to get equipped with future skills. It was not possible in a routine time where companies cannot spare their employees for long-term educational programmes. Though companies did have the provision of short-term Management Development Programmes. The changing scenario is a big boost for Executive education for professionals.

In post COVID environment, all professional courses need to make a balance between skills and theory. Courses need to regularly upgrade skills imparted by them. As more manufacturing and other areas are expected to grow in post COVID period, demand for professionals will also increase. Our higher educational institutes involved in professional education need to focus on the better employability of graduates. Earlier surveys were published questioning the employability of fresh professional graduates from Indian HEIs.

Further, most of the institutes offering professional courses are redesigning their structures for enabling multi-entry and multi-exit options. This will make courses more flexible and a student can choose between a certificate, diploma, and degree.

India demonstrated its ability in COVID management which is acknowledged by the global community. It is a leader in vaccination programme also. This message may help in attracting foreign students to India for professional education. Indian HEIs should be proactive in creating infrastructure and other requirements for attracting international students. It is also possible that a better healthcare infrastructure and its management may help in reducing the movement of Indian students to foreign universities.

COVID-19 has provided a lot of opportunities to professional education to balance skills and theory, the flexibility of entry and exit, attracting international students, and going for online education. But the basics of education will not change i.e. quality of education so that a professional can contribute to the development of society.

(The author is professor at the Department of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee and Associate Dean, Innovation and Incubation, IIT Roorkee. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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