Practice teacher. Will it work?

There is a lot of debate and discussion about the new guidelines released by the University Grants Commission in academia on the appointment of professors of practice. According to the guidelines, distinguished experts who have made outstanding contributions to their profession in various fields such as engineering, science, technology, entrepreneurship, commerce, social sciences, media, literature, fine arts, civil service, armed forces, legal profession and public administration among others and with proven expertise in their specific profession or role with at least 15 years of service/experience, preferably at a senior level are eligible for this position.

The idea behind it is to bring real-world practices and experiences into classrooms and also to increase faculty resources in higher education institutions. Previously, for the appointment of professors to various positions, the UGC had established regulations on the minimum qualifications for the appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges and measures for the maintenance of standards in the Higher Education. For the position of professors, there were two paths – one, candidates from academia with the required qualifications (PhD and publications), and the other came from industry but with the Ph.D. This has limited the entry of many distinguished professionals who might have the right experience, but in the absence of a doctorate they have not been able to contribute to academia. For the position of associate professors, it was not planned to have someone from industry. Although some private institutes appointed industry professionals to teach, they were still at a loss when it came to promotion where again they had to have a Ph.D. or paper publications, etc. In the case of a practicing teacher, none of these academic qualifications are expected if a person has held a senior position in any field for 15 years.

But the big question will it work?

Yes he can, if higher education institutes are ready to make changes in their curricula and pedagogy. Expecting practice teachers to fit into the existing academic structure may not be a good idea and it will not benefit them or the students. Their expertise should be used in a way that gives students an idea of ​​how a lot is done in the industry. This doesn’t just mean teaching in the classroom, but taking students beyond the classroom and integrating them into live projects. This is practiced in medical schools where medical practitioners teach medicine to young doctors and where these young doctors are also exposed to a variety of cases under the supervision of the doctor. A similar model, widely known as the Teaching hospital model can be applied in various fields, such as law students learning practical skills in legal clinics, music students attending musical performances, agriculture students working in the field, and engineering students working on various projects to bring solution to various problems of life through technological intervention. The University Hospital model aims to provide a hands-on experience for students through the collaborative work of students, professionals, and educators. At Mills Legal Clinic, a core part of Stanford Law’s mission, students gain hands-on experience doing the real work of attorneys, while providing essential legal services to underserved people and communities. They work in the clinics full-time for a shift or more, engaging in an immersive experience that reinforces what they’ve learned in the classroom. Another example is the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a top journalism school at Arizona State University. The school has adopted the university hospital model which provides real-world training under the guidance of the industry’s top experts, called practice professors. The school manages Cronkite News which covers current affairs, business and sports from Arizona, Washington DC and Los Angeles. It also serves as the news division of Arizona PBS and produces half-hour local news that airs on PBS Arizona. For such initiatives, practice teachers are appointed to guide students in running TV and radio stations and digital businesses. This model helps institutes to collaborate with industry and practice teachers can become a link between the two. This will not only help institutions realize their full potential, but these practical teachers will also find a strong reason to be there in academia rather than getting lost in routine academic pursuits that are alien to them. Although the practice professor is a good decision, but for its successful implementation, higher education institutes should be open to the university hospital model which can give purpose to these industry professionals, strengthen collaboration industry-university and meet the needs of industry and the economy. .



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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