Exclusive Interview with Dr. Neharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University

Dr. Vohra has done her Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, Canada in Social Psychology. She has been a professor of Organizational Behavior in IIM Ahmedabad for the last 22years.

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Exclusive Interview with Dr. Neharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University

The national capital Delhi with a shining track record to change the face of education in the state has brought quite a few swift and firm policy interventions and reforms, especially in school education. The state upped their reformation measure at higher education level as well to bridge the worrying gap between education and skills introduced Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University (DSEU).

Link to the Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJKvysYHW-Y&t=496s

DSEU just this year started its operation and its first round of admission. Given the potential of DSEU for Delhi’s youth, Mr. Akram Hoque, Founder Editor of The Policy Times was in an exclusive interview with Dr. Neharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor of DSEU. Dr. Vohra has done her Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, Canada in Social Psychology. She has been a professor of Organizational Behavior in IIM Ahmedabad for the last 22years.

Dr. Vohra, What is the mission and vision of DSEU?Given your experience and exposure both abroad and IIM how uniquely you would like to offer skill to Delhi’s youth?

DSEU is specifically designed to be able to bridge the gap between industry and academia. On one hand industries in India face a dire dearth of a skilled and talented workforce and on the other hand unemployment gap is at an all-time high. This gap can only be filled when employment seekers bring quality skills and attitude fit for the workplace. The mission and vision of DSEU are to focus on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling which will help every citizen to do a bit better than their current capacity.

Due to pandemics a significant amount of students will never be back to school as they do not see their academic career transcending to employment. Given your academic experience from Ph.D. in Social Psychology to teaching Organizational Behavior for nearly 22 years. What is your suggestion to fellow educators to attract these students back?

The change brought by the global pandemic is here to stay. I don’t think we could ever go back to a pre-covid way of life when the pandemic is over. We need to adapt and the same is applicable for educators. Educators must rethink strategies for academic delivery. Firstly teaching has to be a hybrid model of remote self-learning and classroom activities.

Things that can be taught remotely on a self-learning delivery should be delivered accordingly or accessed through information banks like the internet. A large part of knowledge can be accessed through the internet these days. The classroom activities should contain so-called ‘face the world skills’ like soft skills, employability skills, critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, understanding human psychology, working with various aspects. These are the skills that cannot be self-learned. Secondly, there should be an extra value-adding element to current academic content and delivery. The educators must rethink what is considered valuable by the market and deliver it in a flexible hybrid process.

The Delhi government has done commendable work to reshape school education in Delhi with glowing impact. DSEU is a very timely and appropriate measure to revamp higher education as well. How do you think DSEU is going to transform the face of education?

DSEU is starting with the aim to find out what exactly is it in the current higher education system that can be done differently to bridge the gap between industry and academia. We realized the transaction that happens in India’s higher education has very little to do with the world of work. DSEU is starting with the aim to do a little better to build an academic process that is very similar to the world of work or at least the process creates a talented workforce and leaves sufficient opportunities for the students at the end of their degree. We would only succeed if people invest themselves in higher education and their goal is not a government job. I would like to instill the mantra and attitude ‘I do what I like to do and I do it well’ amongst the students.

What should be the roadmap to achieve this goal? What are the innovative courses or programs you are launching to achieve DSEU’s mission & vision?

We have mapped the requirements and trends in industry-designed courses in emerging areas like e-commerce, land transport, data analytics, digital media designs. The courses have been designed as per industry requirements by industry professionals and academicians jointly.  The content, as well as delivery, will be very different and unique. Depending on the course we have designed the content, delivery, and method of teaching not the other way round.  For example, some courses will be hybrid, some might have apprenticeship or industry exposure or hands-on projects with different time duration.

In a broader context, the whole world is suffering from the pandemic with a massive loss in different areas education is one. How can we recover the massive loss?

The thing that has been lost in the hustle and bustle in the campus or the physical touch. I don’t think we could go back to as before but educators have to invent unique ways to create the hustle and bustle. Not only that traditional academic environment of student-teacher scenario. But a favorable atmosphere for people of all ages and walk to relearn and reorganize themselves.

On one side there are institutions like  Harvard, Oxford, University of Manitoba, on the other hand, there are IITs, IIMs where can we expect to see DSEU 5 or 10 years down the line?

I want DSEU to be a spontaneous choice because students are interested in what we offer not only because it is an aspirational institution to be. I need to design courses that students and industry thinks are aspirational and a place where students learn for life. I want it to be a place students want to come back and reorient themselves with the best and most relatable skills and knowledge.

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Exclusive Interview with Dr. Neharika Vohra, Vice-Chancellor of Delhi Skill and Entrepreneurship University
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Dr. Vohra has done her Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba, Canada in Social Psychology. She has been a professor of Organizational Behavior in IIM Ahmedabad for the last 22years.
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THE POLICY TIMES
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