Introducing the Garware Institute of Career Education at the First Abasaheb Garware Memorial Lecture in University Convocation Hall, Mumbai on 8 December 2004. The memorial lecture was delivered by Dr Arun Nigvekar, Chairman, University Grants Commission.
I am indeed honored to be asked to welcome you on behalf of the Advisory Committee, the students, faculty and staff of the institute today to the First Abasaheb Garware Memorial lecture. I remember at the first anniversary of the institute in 1985 we had the then Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, Dr Madhuriben Shah as the Chief Guest. Abasaheb was with us then and was on the dais to grace the occasion. It would gladden his heart immeasurably to know, from where he is that today we have Dr Nigavekar not only to be the Chief Guest but deliver the first annual lecture named after him. On your behalf I should like to welcome Dr Nigavekar in our midst.
As the first Director of this Institute, I had the rare privilege of participating in its growth in its formative years. I would like to refer briefly to the guiding principles that helped us through a difficult period of infancy.
It is said that all things are created twice- once in the mind of the creator and then in objective reality. This institute was conceived and created in the minds of its founders as a model in career education in a university –the first of its kind in India. I should d like to dwell briefly on five distinctive characteristics of this model.
First, the courses, as one would expect, are designed to meet clearly identified needs of skilled manpower in manufacturing and service industries. They are entirely skills based, diploma courses of the university and certificate courses of the institute where career specific competencies are accompanied by the theory that underlies them. These are , alternatives to traditional undergraduate and post graduate courses. Some of these courses, like the courses in tourism, paint application technology and customs clearance and freight forwarding were designed, developed and run were introduced for the first time in this institute.
Second, flowing from this, all training needs were identified and courses designed and delivered with the intimate involvement of industry. We have gradually moved from a state of industry support to one of industry alliance and are now trying to move into a phase of industry partnership –may I add, a partnership of equals where they would be involved not only in course design, selection of students, training including on site training and final placement. In return, they got persons who could be put on the job straight away or after training of a few weeks. Only last week at a seminar a guest speaker from industry said that he found the students of our course in Pollution Control Technology were given just two days orientation in his organization before being put on the job. The savings to industry by way of shortening the training period and avoidance of costly mistakes on the production line were enormous.
Third, this model assumes that we have to depend on industry practitioners for teaching our students. We have no permanent faculty-we have course co-coordinators and faculty is drawn from outside- a combination of academicians and industry professionals.. Most of them have been with us ever since the inception of the course. Indeed they have been our main stay and have ensured both continuity and change at the institute.
Fourth, running through all our courses are certain common elements like information technology and its impact on the workplace, human relations skills, communication, quality and personal development. These career courses therfore help the student to look beyond the narrow confines of essential skills requirements. In his lecture at the inauguration of the institute Abasaheb had said that true education should correct flaws in character, sharpen the wit and bring out the best inthe student as a skilful cutter turns a rough diamond into a dazzling gem.
Fifth, while many of our courses are seemingly unrelated to each other- like paint application and medical radiography, or interior design and insurance management, strong synergies have developed and are helping us to look forward to some kind of concentric diversification. Several combinations suggest themselves as new courses which can be offered to working persons; Tourism and Journalism leading to a course in Travel writing: Health Care and Insurance to a course in Health insurance; environment and Foreign Trade to trade related environment management issues, as the Secretary of the Maharashtra Pollution control board pointed out to us the other day.
We have offered our courses at fees much lower than those charged by reputed private institutions and yet earn a reasonable surplus. For three good reasons: we have not invested in permanent faculty: we have not invested in expensive equipment as students are trained on equipment during on site training in the factory: and we work with a very lean staff. The staff to student ratio must be one of the lowest for an educational institution. During the last four years while the number of students enrolled has risen by over 200% the staff strength has gone up by 10%. This, of course, is not an unmixed blessing . We now have to seriously review the administrative load, consider more effective methods of work flow using modern methods of office communication, train the staff and improve overall administrative efficiency. Perhaps a course for administrative staff in educational institutions would not be out of place.
Indeed, based on this model, we have tended to believe that the institute’s core capability is not so much the routine administrative or academic capability of a college but a managerial capability to spot new opportunities, harness resources to make use of them, design appropriate programmes, develop suitable delivery systems and market the institute to ensure client satisfaction. It is a task of strategic management –clarifying our mission, and setting and reviewing goals, programmes, priorities and results. We need an academic audit in the same way as a management audit is conducted in a business organization.
Looking at strategic growth perspectives we see for ourselves three lines of advance:
i Deepening our base in existing courses and fully exploiting the synergies between them.
ii Strategic space in the fast growing services sector: we already have courses in hospital Management, Insurance, and IT. We are now moving into a relatively new area for training: Retailing. Organised retailing accounts for only 25 of total retail trade in India but with the entry of big industrial houses like Tatas, ITC, RPG , Piramals and real estate developers like Rahejas this sector is expected to grow by anywhere between 25% and 40% in the next five yeas. The malls and supermarkets in Mumbai city had a growth of over 30% last year. According to one recent estimate the modern retail sector has the potential to create 2 million jobs in the next 6 years. Quality retail education will therefore be in demand for creating a pool of trained professionals to meet the challenges of this highly competitive industry.
iii Widen our reach. We intend doing this through extension centres- one was started this year- and by offering our courses, wherever feasible, through the distance mode.
Finally, I come back to the basic mission of this institute.
Our institute brochure has always had on its first page a quotation from Swami Vivekananda which says education is man making, building character. After all, the development of human personality and of the human spirit, the blossoming of all the faculties that we possess is the true purpose of existence. In our brand of career education, we are aware of the need for preparing our students not only for a living but for a life that is worth living. That will lift them and us to a higher level of destiny. In our march towards that destiny we seek your blessing and the support of the community that we are privileged to serve.