CHENNAI: Anna University is gearing up for a major syllabi reform as professional practice and industry training are likely to be made mandatory as part of the curriculum in the forthcoming academic year. Among the reforms that were on the anvil is the plan to revamp the evaluation system in such a way that the lab component will have more weightage than theory; allowing students to drop a course; and permitting them to extend the course duration from four to five years.
According to government norms, the curricula and syllabi should be revised every four years for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Hence, Anna University had constituted a syllabus sub-committee, which was assigned the humongous task.
This committee met 49 times over the last year and recently came up with their final suggestions. “In keeping with industry demands, employment-enhancement courses (industrial training, professional practice and case-based studies) were likely to be mandatory as a part of the curriculum,” said one of the committee members, requesting anonymity.
At present, these courses were introduced on a pilot basis for postgraduate students at the College of Engineering, Guindy (Information Technology and Computer Science streams), and since the placements shot up, the varsity is planning to extend them to all affiliated institutions.
With a major syllabus revamp planned at Anna University, including a proposal to make industrial training mandatory, a member of the syllabus sub-committee told Express that the move was aimed at helping students understand industry demands better. At present, students are expected to submit a project and take up an industrial visit, and the proposed changes would be in addition to the existing requisites.
Educationist Narayanan Natarajan said that though industrial exposure is a welcome move, the University shouldn’t allow students to directly pick industries since students from rural areas might find it hard to make contacts in the industries.
S Nagaraj, an engineering student from Erode, said, “Except premier industries, not many entertained us even when it came to our final-year projects. Even then, we did not get hands-on training and got internship certificates just as a formality.”
Narayanan also stressed the need to monitor the progress made as some students might print fake experience certificates or buy them from markets as they do in the case of final year projects. Responding to this, J James, from the Tamil Nadu Association of Micro Industries, said students were not keen on getting trained at micro or small-scale industries as they have the notion that the training quality would be inferior. “If industrial training made mandatory for students, they should look at micro industries where they are likely to get better training when compared to bigger units,” he added.
At present, one credit is allocated for an hour of theory component in classrooms and two hours of lab sessions. A minimum of 165-175 credits are required to complete a course, depending on the stream. Now, to emphasise practical skills, credits for theory classes have been halved. So to earn a credit point, a student has to attend two hours of theory classes (0.5 credit for one hour in classroom). The idea, based on All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) guidelines, was to increase the time outside class (in labs) up to 30 per cent. These initiatives, along with value-added courses and online courses, were likely to come into effect after the Board of Studies, Academic Council, Standing Committee and Syndicate approves it.