Quality of Commerce Education in Indian Universities: An Empirical Presentation
Dr. Nawab Ali Khan Professor, Department of Commerce Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh (INDIA) Telephone: +91-571-3261457/2721457 Cell: 09897001457/09358066667 Fax: +91-571-2700831 E-mail: [email protected]
Today, the Indian System of business and commerce education is facing many challenges arising out of globalization. The challenge of quality of business and commerce education has many dimensions, e.g. providing adequate physical facilities and infrastructure, making availability of adequate number of quality teachers, effectiveness of teaching-learning processes, attainment levels of students, etc. Besides the need to improve quality of our educational institutions in general, it is also imperative that an increasing number of them attain world-class standards and, as such, are internationally recognized for their quality. As compared to international standards, the Indian institutions (with a few exceptions) are far behind. There is an urgent need to fill this gap. In India, revamping the moral and intellectual strength of teaching community should not be delayed further for the bright future of our student community. On the basis of a sample survey, in the present paper, an attempt has been made to investigate the quality of business and commerce education imparted by Indian Universities. Consequently, formulation of a long-range strategy has been suggested to achieve excellence in business and commerce education through quality teaching.
Key Words: Conventional, Pedagogical, Infrastructure, Specialization, Curriculum. Acknowledgement: The author acknowledges the logistical support provided by the Department of Commerce, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.
Business education or commerce education is that area of education which develops the required knowledge, skills and attitudes for the successful handling of trade, commerce and industry. Till yester years, commerce education is business education. But, in tune with the needs of the business and society, independent professions have emerged in the form of chartered accountant, cost and works accountant, company secretary and business administrator (M.B.A.). Thus, the cream of commerce has gone and it remained now as an academic discipline giving general and liberal education. Commerce Education in India was started in 1886, over a hundred and twenty years ago. Since then it has experienced tremendous growth. Commerce faculties are established in many Universities (Reddy: 2007). The impact of globalization on the corporate sector in particular has suddenly created a demand for human resource trained in the field of commerce education with innovative ideas, new approaches in commerce and behavioural sciences as well as professional skills. In order to fill the vacuum in this regard, a new and futuristic orientation requires to be given to the discipline of commerce education. At the outset, it would be worthwhile to mention that the conventional commerce education has become irrelevant in the present era of globalization. Keeping in mind the significance of modern commerce and business education, the Indian government has liberalized its market since 1990s, resulting in an unprecedented growth in the number of technical and management institutions, mostly through private investment. The students now have a vast choice regarding the institutions in which they want to study. Since the management graduates and postgraduates produced by these institutions are primarily absorbed by the industry, there is a growing need to match the curriculum and structure of commerce and business education to better satisfy the requirements of the industrial and services sectors within the country. Therefore, it is important to properly assess the quality of business or commerce education imparted to the students in various government/private
institutions and universities for proper decision-making regarding selection and recruitment by potential employers. The challenges of quality in business and commerce education have many dimensions, e.g. providing adequate physical facilities and infrastructure, making available adequate number of teachers of requisite quality, effectiveness of teachinglearning processes, attainment levels of students, etc. It is against this backdrop that, on the basis of a sample survey, the present paper attempts to investigate the quality of business and commerce education imparted by the Department of Commerce, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh after the implementation of UGC revised Curriculum in the year 2002-03. It is worthwhile to mention here that Department of Commerce not only runs traditional commerce courses like Bachelor of Commerce, and Master of Commerce but also Master of Finance & Control (MFC), Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) PG Diploma in Banking, Risk & Insurance Management (BRIM), PG Diploma in Business Taxation. Finance and PG Diploma in
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
There are many studies conducted on commerce education by the researchers in India and abroad. The following is a brief review of some recent researches done in the field of commerce education: Paperman and Chandra (1983) emphasized that the students should be sent to the business houses for on the job training to supplement the class room teaching. It will provide the students valuable training. Moreover, the interning business will also be benefited by having bright students for a limited period of time and helping to assess the suitability of the interns for full employment. Rust and Oliver (1984) in their study provided three dimensions of model for measurement of service quality universally across the service which is widely known as expectation model. Khairoowala et. al. (2002) felt it imperative on the part of commerce educationists to understand the need of the market by imparting commerce education
in a realistic manner with a practical touch through better linkages between Universities and the Industry. They also stated that the importance of commerce education in the next millennium will depend upon the changes that are made today, taking a broader view of near future. Choudhry (2003) has emphasized on the necessity to redesign the skill oriented and job oriented courses in commerce with new nomenclatures. He felt if the courses are designed as per the requirements and the students are trained on these lines, then courses will become relevant and product saleable. For that, there should be a survey of requirements of business and industry in terms of nature of courses and number of graduates. Ahmad (2004) emphasized for bringing about changes in the system and the teaching process. In addition to imparting academic knowledge, the student community must be prepared to meet the challenges confronted in real life and equipped to solve the problems confronting the business world. This would call for the restructuring of commerce syllabi at regular intervals. He also felt that in this age of specialization, commerce education should not continue as a sort of general education making students jacks of all trades and masters of none. Sangmi (2005) felt that commerce education came into existence with the complexities of business and this field of study has been undergoing through turbulent times throughout its evolution. The millennium challenge of globalization, liberalization, privatization and information technology have put added pressure on commerce educational institutions to innovate and change as per changing dynamics of business environment. Mishra (2005) focused on post-world war period commerce education and emphasized e-learning and online education. He also observed that teachers are not responding in a responsible way while implementing curriculum of commerce education and emphasized the need of changing mindset of the teaching community. Mahajan and Shah (2006) concluded that over the last more than a decade or so, global competition and proliferation of business educational institutions across the world possess stiff challenges to the business schools in India to produce quality
products that could cater to the needs of corporate world and withstand the expectation of different stakeholders of business education. Reddy (2007) stressed to develop micro specializations which are skill oriented or job oriented. Besides, he suggested that learned members may take this opportunity for an objective introspection about the commerce education-its objectives, its problems, its job potential, its quality and its relevance to the present day needs of our country. Rao (2008) also focused on the need of an effective academia industry relationship to build organic relationships, with sustainable and strategic intent contributing to the development of both the entities. Industry inputs should be included as part of curriculum of commerce for improving the quality of output, which is perceived quite beneficial to both parties.
The present study has been conducted to pursue the following two fold objectives: 1. To study the quality of business and commerce education from students’ point of view; and 2. To offer suggestions and methods for achieving excellence in business and commerce education.
The main limitation of the present study, which really acted as a hindrance from going into details of more results is that the sample survey does not deal with the evaluation of quality of commerce education imparted to students of B.Com. (I). This is so because of my expectations that these students can not understand and properly answer the questionnaire.
In the light of the foregoing discussion, this empirical study gauges the opinions of the students of the Faculty of Commerce, Aligarh Muslim University
about the quality of teaching with the help of a well designed questionnaire The students of this Faculty have been chosen purposefully due to the fact that the author teaches in the said Department. Out of 705 enrolled students of the said Department, the questionnaire was administered to 267 students selected through simple random sampling technique at the Precision Level of +5 per cent on the basis of formula given by Yamane (1967: 886) to calculate sample sizes. Initially, the students were reluctant to fill up the questionnaires as most of them were apprehensive about their internal assessments that if they write against the teachers, they might get penalized. Hence, the researcher called them twice to explain the main points of the questionnaire and also to convince them to respond fairly and fearlessly on the assurance that their identities will not be disclosed and their support will help improve the courses and teaching in the Department in future. Fortunately, all the randomly selected students replied in time. The researcher also supplied the respondents the blank sheets to express their observations on the issues other than those mentioned in the questionnaire. Surprisingly, almost 75 per cent of the respondents expressed their views about their requirements and expectations from the teachers. Their views on a number of issues relating to teaching in the Faculty of Commerce have been compiled in the following table:
(Percentages) How do you find your syllabus? (a) Excellent (b) Cumbersome (c) Adequate (d) Inadequate Total 14.29 9.52 64.29 11.90 100.00 Total 100.00 Total 100.00
What do you feel regarding understanding of your course? Very easy Manageable Difficult Very difficult 19.05 76.19 4.76 The syllabus coverage in the class is : 90 - 100% 75 – 90% 50 – 75% 38.10 26.19 30.95 Below 50% 4.76
Availability of purposeful reading material in the Seminar Library is : More than Adequate Inadequate No comments Total adequate 19.05 38.10 30.95 11.90 100.00 Teachers’ preparation for the class lecture is : Excellent Satisfactory Poor 14.29 76.19 -
Did not prepare 9.52 No comments -
Total 100.00 Total 100.00
Communication by your teachers in the class is : Effective Ineffective Satisfactory 39.09 19.05 41.86
Is students’ participation in learning process in the class encouraged by your Teachers? Yes Attempted Not at all Some times Total 26.19 4.76 2.38 66.67 100.00 Which method is used for students’ participation in the class rooms? Encouraged Discussion in Discussion out Discussion question class side class individually 33.33 59.53 7.14 What is the attitude of teacher when you seek advice? Helpful Unhelpful Sometimes Sometimes helpful unhelpful 42.86 4.76 42.86 9.52 Teacher’s behavior in the class is : Courteous Rude Indifferent 42.86 9.52 28.57 Does the internal assessment work? Fairly Regularly Helpfully 28.57 14.29 19.05 Strict 19.05 No comments 38.09 Total 100.00 Total 100.00 Total 100.00 Total 100.00 Total 100.00
How does the internal assessment affect your course grade? Improves it Lowers it No effect No comments 50.00 2.38 23.81 23.81
When do you get the feedback on your performance from the teacher? Regularly In time With helpful No comments Total comments 9.52 11.90 47.62 30.95 100.00
Does the Teacher discuss your assignments with you? Yes, fully Yes, partly Not at all Some times 4.76 19.05 38.09 38.09
Do you get the Lectures Plan of the course from your teacher in advance? Yes No Some times No comments Total 66.67 33.33 100.00 Do you find the Lecture Plan of the course helpful? Yes No To some extent No comments 71.43 28.57 Does your teacher follow the Lecture Plan? Yes No Some times 71.43 28.57 No comments Total 100.00 Total 100.00
Are lectures from external eminent academicians/experts arranged for you? Yes, frequently Rarely Never Some times Total 9.52 45.24 45.24 100.00 Are you sent on educational/excursion tours outside? Yes, Annually Rarely Never Some times 11.90 4.77 83.33 Source: Questionnaire Total 100.00
From the above noted data it is observed that the feed-back of the students was taken on a number of aspects for the overall evaluation of teaching of business and commerce education in the Faculty of Commerce, A.M.U. Aligarh. The respondents have given divergent views regarding the instruction imparted to them in the Faculty. On enquiry about syllabus, it was found that 14.29 per cent of the total respondents found it excellent, 9.52 per cent felt it was cumbersome, 64.29 per cent of the total students surveyed opined that the syllabus was adequate and only 11.90 per cent students found it inadequate. The students were asked if the course was conceptually difficult to understand; interestingly for 76.19 of the per cent students the course was manageable whereas for
19.05 of them it was very easy. For 4.76 per cent of the students it was difficult and it was satisfactory to note that none of the respondents felt it was very difficult. Regarding the coverage of course 38.10 per cent of the students opined that 90 to 100 per cent of the course was covered in the class. Of the total respondents 30.95 per cent were such who felt that 50 to 75 per cent of the course was covered in class, 26.19 per cent students said that 75 to 90 per cent of syllabus was covered in class and only 4.76 per cent of the respondents said that course covered was less than 50 per cent. The survey reveals that 19.05 per cent of the total respondents are of the opinion that the availability of purposeful reading materials in the Seminar Library was more than adequate whereas it was just adequate for 38.10 per cent of the total respondents. 30.95 per cent students said it was inadequate. Only 11.90 per cent of the students surveyed said it was very poor. Another question of the survey was regarding the teachers’ preparation for the class. It is quite good that 76.19 per cent of the respondents felt that the teachers prepared for the class up to their satisfaction, 14.29 per cent felt that they prepared thoroughly for the class, 9.52 per cent of the total respondents felt that they did not prepare for the class and interestingly none of the respondents felt that their teachers prepared poorly. When the respondents were enquired about the communication skills of teachers, it was found that for 41.86 per cent of total respondents; teachers were able to communicate satisfactorily, for 39.09 per cent respondents effectively and for 19.05 per cent ineffectively. None of them found the teachers’ communication poor in the Department. The respondents were asked about their participation in the class discussion. It was found that 26.19 per cent of them said that the teachers encouraged students’ participation in class whereas 66.67 per cent opined that sometimes the teachers encouraged the participation, 4.76 per cent of the respondents said their teachers attempted participation while, 2.38 per cent of the respondents said that the teachers did not encourage participation at all.
The students were also asked about the method of their participation in the class. It is important to note that 59.53 per cent respondents opined that their teachers encouraged discussion in class, 33.33 per cent of them felt that their teachers encouraged questions in the class while 7.14 per cent of them felt that their teachers preferred individual discussions for students’ participation in the class. Another question posed to respondents was about the general behaviour of teachers. Majority of them (42.86 per cent) felt that the teachers were courteous, 28.57 per cent of them were of view that teachers were indifferent, 19.05 per cent of total respondents felt that they were strict while 9.52 per cent of total respondents felt that their teachers were rude. When the respondents were asked about internal assessment, interestingly 38.09 per cent of the respondents were not able to judge whether the internal assessment worked or not, for 28.57 per cent it worked fairly, it worked regularly for 14.29 per cent and helpfully for 19.05 per cent of the total respondents. Besides, on the question whether the internal assessment will improve their course grade, it was noted that for 50 per cent of the total respondents assured that it really improves, for 23.81 per cent of them it had no effect, 23.81 per cent respondents were not able to judge but 2.38 per cent of the respondents thought that internal assessment lowers their grades. Another question posed to respondents was whether the teachers provided feedback on the performance. Majority of them (47.62 per cent) were of the opinion that teachers provided feedback on their performance with helpful comments. Of the total, 11.90 per cent of the respondents thought that the teachers provided feedback on their performance in time, 9.52 per cent respondents felt they got it regularly and 30.95 per cent of the respondents did not comment on it. When respondents were asked about discussion on their assignments, interestingly, 38.09 per cent of them said that their assignments were not discussed with them at all, the same percentage of respondents felt it was done intermittently that their assignments were discussed with them. Of the total 19.05 per cent students opined that their assignments were discussed with them partly and only 4.76 per cent of them said their assignments were fully discussed with them in the class.
The respondents’ views were taken on whether they were given a course lecture outline at the beginning? 66.67 per cent of the students opined that they were provided with the course and lecture outline at the beginning and only 33.33 per cent of them were of the view that they were not given any such outline. It was observed that for 71.43 per cent of the respondents the course and lecture outlines were provided at the beginning and they found it helpful. However, for 28.57 per cent of them, it was not helpful at all. The same was the response on the enquiry about their teachers following lecture plans given to them. The respondents were enquired whether external eminent academicians/ experts were invited to address them? Surprisingly, 45.24 per cent of them stated that external experts were rarely invited to address them. The same percentage of the respondents opined that the external experts were not invited to address them even at the time of their orientation. Only 9.52 per cent of the total respondents opined that the lectures were frequently arranged from external eminent academicians/ experts. At the end, it was also enquired, if the Department sends them to visit industries, business houses, banks and outside the university. It was really shocking to note that 83.33 per cent of the total respondents said that they were not taken any where. However, 11.90 per cent of them felt they were sent on education-cumindustrial tour in final year only while 4.77 per cent of the total respondents said that they rarely visited any of the aforementioned places.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
On the basis of findings of the study and feed back gathered from the students and through personal interviews, the researcher wishes to discuss an enthusiastic collection of thoughts for improving the quality of commerce education. The quality of education depends on the provision and proper utilization of all necessary physical facilities for learning. In other words, acquiring knowledge coupled with the ability for its proper application requires sincere efforts. Over the last 4-5 decades, a "change" has taken place in the educational scenario. Learners are now more 'demanding', than in the past. They behave like customers in the market. They want 'quality' teachers, rather than authoritative teachers.
Coming to the quality in commerce education, it is well known fact that effective commerce education needs two components, namely, infrastructure consisting of a good compound, decent and elegant buildings having nicely decorated class rooms, rich and dependable Seminar Libraries, well equipped computer labs, modern electronic audio-visual teaching aids etc. to mention a few and of course the second one is a team of qualified and dedicated teachers. The educational institutions, which possess both the components, are considered the ideal ones. In case both the components are not so good, in such cases it is doubtful if the institutions can survive. (Singh: 1999). The recruitment of staff members should be based on their academic performance, specialization and practical experience. To my mind the component of the qualified and dedicated teachers constitute the vital area to be carefully attended to. The attempts by various appointing authorities, including the UGC, to recruit teachers by framing stringent guidelines like possession of consistently good academic record, holding Ph.D/ M.Phil. Degrees, qualifying the National Eligibility Test (NET) etc., do not yield the expected results. And ultimately authorities have miserably failed in developing a mechanism to segregate the dutiful and academic teachers from the non-academic areas. In fact, the strict guidelines of the UGC do not guarantee that an appointee will prove to be a good teacher. What is more desirable is the framing of a set of sufficient conditions, on satisfaction of which a teacher can be considered for confirmation, increment, promotion or career advancement, more specifically in centrally funded institutions. Evaluation of a teacher in service in respect of his academic accountability ought to be done in the same way as it is done all over the world. Students Feed Back about a teacher's regularity, effectiveness in teaching and attitude towards them should be taken at regular intervals from all the classes engaged by that particular teacher. Besides, self assessment of a teacher should also be done periodically to make him/her a more responsible and sincere teacher. Those, whose performance is found satisfactory, must be promoted in due course of time. However, guilty must be given some chance to improve. Needless to say that there are always chances of improvement as most of the defaults on the part of teachers are just because of
dullness and lethargy. Punitive action should be contemplated but only in unavoidable and exceptional cases. Chadha’s Committee on Sixth Pay Commission has recommended that the teachers should be encouraged to participate in consultancy services. The researcher also stands by this recommendation as it will keep them in touch with real problems and to bring to bear their specialized knowledge to the solution of practical problems faced by the business world. Such an arrangement would be of mutual advantage; as also beneficial to the student body who will get familiarized with the handling of case studies to make their academic pursuits more realistic and meaningful. It is worthwhile to mention that commerce education cannot be compared with studying other subject areas like chemistry, physics, mathematics or law etc. Commerce education can rather be compared with medicine. No doctor is allowed near a patient purely on the basis of theoretical knowledge. Doctors learn the professional skills by acquiring the practical knowledge that is taught by practicing doctors and hence they become experts in diagnosing the real physical conditions of the patients. In the similar way, in a business scenario also you have to do things, take decisions, take actions, and monitor results. Hence, the specialization is the need of the hour to achieve excellence in imparting commerce education. It is also desirable that the Commerce Laboratories be set up in the Faculties of Commerce of the universities. Besides, the teachers should be allowed to specialize in the subjects of their choice and the practice of assigning of many subjects to a teacher and changing them after every two or three years arbitrarily should be abandoned forthwith. In fine, it may be safely deduced that the teachers are envisaged to be a special breed of people. They not only have high academic qualifications, but are also Masters or Gurus of the ideas they discuss. The thing which really makes them special is the ability to teach and communicate in a very effective way. It is worthwhile to mention here that Indian universities and degree colleges (with a few exceptions) are far behind as compared to international standards. The need of the hour is to fill this gap. In India, revamping the moral and intellectual strength of teaching community is a programme not to be delayed further for the bright future of our student community.
If it is not done, the time may come when the students may dictate what to learn, how to learn and from whom to learn. It is a welcome trend if it helps in the making of 'good and honourable' citizens.
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