Choosing a course on one’s own strength or interest?
It’s always a much more enjoyable and constructive conversation when I meet students who have an interest, and are looking to pursue that interest, rather than pursuing something because they feel they should. In an ideal world someone’s strength would hopefully be related in some way to their interest. Students perform better in their academic and professional career if pursuing something that they’re interested in, and in this way we should perhaps view interest as a strength.
How to determine student’s interest to avoid switching courses in future?
Passion, enthusiasm and understanding should jump out from a statement of purpose. We want to see that a student has made a considered application, in that they have demonstrated a strong understanding of the programme and have a clear idea of where the programme might take them in the future. Relevant work and voluntary experience is also incredibly attractive in an application as it demonstrates motivation and that the applicant is conscious to develop their overall profile and will continue to do so while studying.
What are the factors to be considered to choose a university or a course?
Every institution will have their own strengths and be known for particular subjects, but the culture, in terms of student life and teaching practices may vary. It’s important to see who the university might be working with at a research level as this can influence the content of the taught programmes and create opportunities for students to engage on a practical level with external organisations. Employment prospects are also enhanced by having the opportunity to benefit from experiential learning by putting into practice what’s been learnt in the classroom. In terms of the course, it’s recommended that students do some research themselves on the job market for a particular course in their own country as this can vary.
Select university working on a research level as this can influence the content of the taught programmes and create opportunities for students to engage on a practical level with external organisations
Could you identify the upside and downside of a niche course?
There’s a lot of variables and it can also depend on what we’re defining as a niche course. Any university or course provider see there is a market for that particular course and a job market for the graduates. In some cases, university reach out to industry first to ascertain where they see the shortages and what they need graduates to be qualified in.
Eventually the niche courses may then become more mainstream but our job is to keep innovating and developing new programmes to meet or shape the market demands.
Do the mainstream courses influence student decisions by crushing their personal interest?
It depends on the individual and perhaps who might have an influence in their decision making. It’s understandable that family would want to be involved, as in many cases they’re supporting financially, but the risk is that less well known courses may be dismissed by family members if they don’t fully understand them.
What might be considered mainstream is due to what was available at one time. If you were interested in studying a postgraduate course in business your options were limited to MBA/Management. Many students assumed that was what they needed to excel, but now things have changed and industry wants people with specialist knowledge in a subject such marketing, data or innovation etc.
Nationwide test to check students’ interest before admission. What is your comment?
It would be incredibly difficult to create a ‘one size fits all’ test to measure interest. It would unfortunately result in some good candidates being discounted because they weren’t able to complete a test in the right way. Interviews however can be beneficial for particular courses, especially vocational, and can be a good way to assess in more detail an applicant’s interest and understanding of the course they have applied to.
What courses have grown steadily in India?
India is driven by what’s happening, socially, economically and perhaps politically in the country. There is a huge rise in interest in programmes such as Architecture which is due in part the rapid rate of expansion in the cities and more demand for a design focussed approach.
Challenges created by rapid population growth and demands on healthcare have piqued interest in Psychology and social welfare courses. In the business sector organisations are screaming out for data specialists and I’m seeing finance professionals retrain to take advantage of the favourable employment prospects. In the future courses related to water sustainability, environmental issues, waste management will become valuable but the public and private sectors need to first invest in these areas so there are opportunities for skilled graduates. It is happening but there’s certainly some way to go.