‘Prof of Practice in vogue in top varsities globally’

Debunking concerns that ‘Professors of Practice’ will degrade quality in higher education institutions, UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar tells Manash Gohain that it will provide flexibility to meet professional training requirements and promote integration of academic scholarship with practical experience. Excerpts from the interview:

What will PoP in Indian universities achieve?

Professor of Practice is to enhance quality of higher education by bringing practitioners, policy-makers and skilled professionals into the higher education system. The reforms introduced in the NEP 2020 such as holistic education, restructured degree programmes, vocational education and integrated general education call for drawing experts from various fields such as science, technology, commerce, media, literature, fine arts, civil services, armed forces and public administration into the academic institutions. Indian HEIs produce a large number of scientific publications, but lag behind in patents. PoP will provide a platform for professionals to rub shoulders with academics to narrow this gap, by taking real world practices and experiences into classrooms.

There has been criticism that it’ll degrade quality of education and affect recruitment of new faculty?

On the contrary, it will improve quality of education.

PoP can provide effective, practice-oriented instruction in areas that supplement the core courses offered by regular faculty. Engaging PoP provides flexibility for the university to meet professional training requirements. It will promote integration of academic scholarship with practical experience. PoPs with their vast experience they can conceptualise, design and offer unique courses. The guidelines for engaging PoP mention that it is exclusive of the sanctioned posts of a university/college and will not affect the number of sanctioned as well as the reserved posts.

Do universities globally offer such positions?

PoP is common practice across the world. PoPs, who are primarily non-tenure faculty members, are in vogue in many universities

such as MIT, Harvard University, Stanford University, S OAS University of London, Cornell University,

University of Helsinki

to name a few. In India too, PoPs are appointed in IITs such a s Delhi, Madras and Guwahati.

Why is the maximum tenure of PoP positions only for four years?

PoP are preferred for their skills and expertise acquired in non-academic careers. If they work for a longer time, the difference between a regular faculty and PoP will diminish and the objective will be defeated.

Why are eligibility qualifications not essential for PoP?

A formal academic qualification is not considered essential for this position if they have exemplary professional practice in lieu. A celebrated practising dancer can bring lots of experience and techniques in teaching which otherwise will not be available in atypical university. A CEO of atop company can bring to the classroom new dimensions to teaching with his/ her practical experiences and skills in solving real life problems.

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