09 Oct 2017 19:14 IST

‘We want students to develop the ability to enquire’

BML Munjal University provides a platform to implement great ideas, says BS Satyanarayana, VC

As BML Munjal University — founded by the Hero group — entered its fourth year this August, Vice-Chancellor BS Satyanarayana spoke to BusinessLine on Campus about its collaboration with Imperial College and plans to make it a global institute focussed on experiential learning. Excerpts:

Imperial College is a mentor to BML Munjal University. In what way does this mentoring manifest itself? What does the London-based college bring to the table?

From day one, Imperial has been associated with us; it defines the programmes and curriculum. We wanted to create a platform for education that is on par with the world’s best but, at the same time, has a unique Indian ethos. Imperial came on board with its best practices and work, which were similar to our vision. The collaboration has been an experience for them as well.

With this partnership, we are trying to create a curriculum that is ahead of the curve. Defining the broad parameters of the programme and explaining the course by making it relevant to the present time, are areas where the college has worked closely with Munjal University. We want the institute to be known as an engineering-management university, and Imperial plays an important role in helping us reach that goal.

Is there an exchange of faculty; do students go to Imperial College for courses?

Twice a year, faculty from Imperial come and teach here. Also, all the students at Munjal have an option to go to Imperial in the summer. For courses that we may not offer here at the moment, students can go there, learn and earn credits.

BML Munjal talks about experiential learning. How does this happen?

The university focuses on experiential learning so that our students can use whatever they learn. Nowadays, students complete their MBA but might never have visited a company or worked on a case study. Ever semester, our students are given assignments where they have to apply whatever they have learned. Students from MBA, BBA and BCom courses work for at least 10-15 weeks in the industry. This ensures that they truly understand what they study.

By giving experiential learning more weightage, we are attempting to get rid of the fear of exams in students. In many subjects, 60-65 per cent of the marks is given through continuous assessment. Therefore, if students have done their projects well, they need not worry about the final exams. This learning brings in all aspects of management, including communication, planning and strategy.

How do the university’s different schools implement cross-disciplinary programmes?

Different courses are taught to students in the first year, such as fundamentals of analytics and forensic accounting. We also make it a point to link all the subjects through assignments every semester. Instead of giving multiple assignments, we focus on one assignment that connects all the subjects they study.

What are the innovative learning methods adopted by BML Munjal University?

We have instructed the teachers to provide examples of whatever they teach. And every student has to make a product within the first two semesters. Those studying engineering need to write a software programme within the first year. Due to this, in a short period of time, the students come up with various products. Hopefully, we will start filing for patents soon!

What steps are you taking to make Munjal University a world-class institution? Do overseas students come to study at Munjal?

We want students to first develop the ability to enquire, which will hopefully inspire them to innovate inclusively. These are the mandates the management gave us. Today, education is no more a mere delivery of content; it also has to meet students’ aspirations. So, if a student has a great thought, we provide a platform for implementation.

We are not going out of way to look for overseas students. In last three years we have not increased the intake of students. Right now we have students from 22 States, so it is a diverse environment. There are students from Nepal and Bhutan as well. Also, professors who come from the US or Europe bring students along with them, who attend our classes. Once the programme is well-set, we will plan on attracting students from overseas.

What are you doing to advance research, and in which areas? How many Ph.D students are enrolled, and in what areas of research?

Research is an integral part; we do not want it to stand alone. Learning, teaching and researching on industrial and societal engagement with a focus on inclusive innovation is built into the curriculum. We are focusing on creating infrastructure first and then taking up a project.

The university has invested ₹600 crore in various labs such as analytics, manufacturing, industrial, and IoT. From the next session approximately 15-20 students might be joining Ph.D programmes.

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