In recent years, higher education in India has evolved and grown more complex than ever. The structure of higher education institutions needs to be flexible and compatible with industry standards to meet the current challenges. Thus, CollPoll strives to bring together the expert knowledge, expertise, and insights of academic thought leaders so that institutions receive the right guidance.
In a candid chat with the CollPoll team, Roysten Fernandes, Head of Information Technology Department, BML Munjal University discusses the current state of higher education in India, as well as strategies for enhancing the quality of education and campus operations for becoming a successful institution. He holds 26 years of rich experience in operations, management, and various technological frameworks. As the HOD of IT at BML Munjal University, he has been providing strategic direction and vision to the institution since 2021.
Q1. You previously had impressive stints in some big IT firms like Cognizant and HCL. What made you shift to the education sector? How has the journey been so far?
I’ve been in the IT industry for the past 26 years now, delivering support mostly in the PFSI domain. I started my career in the HDFC bank in Data Center Management and further continued working in JPMorgan Chase & Co., Credit Suisse, and almost for 10+ years in ADP (Automatic Data Processing), a US-based organization. However, I also looked into the healthcare sector and supported organizations in the manufacturing domain.
When the opportunity popped up, that BML Munjal University was looking for an IT Head, I thought maybe this was the right chance to shift to the education sector. I believe the step was necessary at that time to discover – how well my skills and services could be utilised in the education space.
The way of teaching and working has been growing tremendously in the past few years, with dual degree programmes being the new norm in higher education institutions. So, to explore new things and use my skills, knowledge, and years of experience to enhance the quality of education, I decided to move to the education space.
When I joined BML Munjal University, the institution was opened after a long break due to the pandemic and lockdown. The learning and processes had already moved to the online platforms and there was a minimal physical connection between the teachers, students, and stakeholders. Although, we supported remote learning, getting classrooms up and running again was quite challenging. Even renewing licenses on all fronts including ERP management, asset inventory, etc. was a huge task. CollPoll helped us to overcome such challenges.
The higher management wanted to bring a change in the institution and thus, I came up with a vision to drive this change through innovative ideas and strategies. From this fiscal year, we have moved to more smart classrooms and have adopted better technologies on campus. Currently, we are focusing on developing hybrid learning and moving to a more digitalised environment.
Q2. Having spent so many years witnessing the emergence of technology, what according to you has been the biggest change in the higher education sector in terms of technology?
Technology has brought some amazing changes in all sectors including the education space. From being unable to interact physically with a person to virtually connecting with people from all around the world, technology has been revolutionizing. I come from an environment where we moved from a regular waterfall approach to a more customer-centric approach. And I believe, this is the need of the hour in all sectors.
The online teaching-learning process became a big buzz during the pandemic. Everyone had to use digital platforms for continuous learning and delivery of education. Knowing the basics of technology has become quite imperative to continue learning in this digital era.
Nowadays, the way IT teams resolve problems virtually has also evolved. Additionally, both teaching and learning have moved to a more diversified platform. Students have the privilege to connect from anywhere, get easy access to data, and perform various tasks easily via online modes. The teaching methods have become versatile and all the restrictions on physical presence have been eliminated.
Technology has introduced a new way of teaching and learning. Thus, connecting everyone virtually. And even we at BML Munjal University, are making efforts in the direction of adopting trending technologies and newer ways of doing things, to be a part of this digital revolution.
Q3. Could you share some tips for other higher education institutions on – how they can plan the implementation of technology and deal with the resistance that comes along with it?
I believe that if the vision and mission are clear to the people of the organization and they have a set goal in place, it becomes easier to adapt to the changes. As we move to a more digital environment, we need to have a proper framework that includes a good path of training for faculties to hand-holding them to the next level.
Earlier, all the processes were done manually in the institutions. However, today we have moved to a more digitalized way of getting things done. This paradigm shift is necessary for educational institutions. Institutes today are preparing their individual frameworks that are being governed by the central body. They deliver phase-wise training on – how the curriculum has to be carried out.
If the planning is done in this manner and if the faculty is taken through the proper training phases, it becomes easier to deal with the implementation and avoid resistance at the same time. It is important to plan things out and document them in a structured way.
Training, development, and a framework governed by a higher body are required for any organization to succeed and transform digitally!
Q4. Could you share the key challenges that have been addressed at BMU post the adoption of technology?
At BML Munjal University, we have received a very positive response from students, teachers, and administrators on getting campus processes digital and accessible via a single comprehensive platform – CollPoll Digital Campus. Besides this, getting various challenges addressed on the spot and providing support then and there is now much easier.
Currently, at BML Munjal University, we are upgrading our infrastructure and moving data to the cloud, shifting to the hybrid way of working, and using advanced technologies on the campus to enhance the experience of the student, faculty, administrators, and other stakeholders. This decision of investing in new technologies and securing the servers with the latest tools & software should be looked at carefully.
Q5. Going forward in the future, how do you think will technology empower the students, faculty, and management?
Adopting a digital way of teaching and learning is the need of the moment. Digital Transformation and effective implementation should be done from scratch in the institutions. Investing in the right technologies can help us go a long way in the education space. A top-down push from the senior management and stakeholders has to take place to accept digital transformation in the institution.
Thank You Roysten Sir for such a wonderful conversation, we look forward to having you again!
Keep watching this space for more interviews of CollPoll on higher education space and emerging trends!