B-schools should depend less on visiting faculty

livemint.com | Premchand Palety

This often means some corrupt practices. Some of the visiting faculty members are those who actually recruit from the campuses. Giving them teaching assignments with a relatively better pay package is not without conditions. There is a tacit agreement that in return they would recruit a few students from their campus.

The other source of visiting faculty is the existing permanent faculty of local university departments or some top B-schools who are hired to teach a course. In the national capital region, for instance, the faculty members of some top B-schools teach more in lower-rung private B-schools than in their own institute. This is clear misuse of the freedom and time they get. Instead of interacting with industry and doing research, which can also be a source of additional income for them, they prefer moonlighting.

There are some “entrepreneurs”, too, who have quit or lost corporate jobs and work full-time as visiting faculty and keep hopping to various B-schools on an hourly basis.

We have interacted with many students on this issue and most of them opine that visiting faculty lack commitment. The visiting faculty from industry, though they have good exposure of field practices, often lack academic rigour and theoretical inputs. It is also seen that these visiting faculty members often do not follow a structured approach in teaching that is essential, especially for foundation courses. In many cases, evaluation of students also does not take place properly as the teachers are preoccupied with a busy corporate life or teaching in other institutes. Generally, after teaching for few hours a day, they are not available to the students to clear doubts or to play a mentoring role, which is also very important from the students’ perspective.

Ideally ,the visiting faculty should be selectively drawn from industry and should be specialists in their field, and should be engaged for some electives. The foundation courses should be taught only by permanent faculty members, who themselves ought to be properly trained.

In my view, it’s the permanent faculty that should be the true measure of a B-school’s brand. How competent they are in terms of teaching, how empowered they are to try out new ideas, whether or not they get an enabling environment to do research and interact with industry is very important.

Perhaps keeping this aspect in mind, the tenure system—where good faculty has lifetime job security—was adopted by many universities and colleges abroad. A true academic institute gives direction to society by creating knowledge besides disseminating it. Such an institute is also faculty-driven.

But many of our edupreneurs do not give much weightage to this aspect of institute and are happy being a glorified placement agency. This is also a major deterrent for competent youngsters to take up the profession of teaching.

Our edupreneurs should understand that their social responsibility is not in just establishing swanky campuses or getting jobs for students but also in cultivating good faculty.

Premchand Palety is director of Centre for Forecasting and Research (C fore) in New Delhi, from where he keeps a close eye on India’s business schools.