Continuously acquiring higher education will get you retired before you get obsolet


Head, Faculty of Business Administration
Iqra University, Karachi campus

Sep 01 - 07, 2003 



I can recall the past when my family received an invitation stating,

"You are invited to attend the matriculation passing ceremony of our child."

The entire neighborhood and family was invited to a really joyful occasion. Then my elder brother did matriculation nothing happened. Family said, it's just a start. He did bachelors, family said "good" but master's is your destination. When I did my master's family said "good" but destination is doctorate. And I ended up with a doctorate degree. And now opting for post doctorate. But the overall issue is where it all will end?Holding master's degree in this extensive competitive environment is no longer a point of differentiation.

Organizations are tying the promotion of their employees with higher education. People are pursuing double masters but opting for double masters is horizontal movement that might not give any competitive edge. The prime reason is that acquiring skills in another area that might not be congruent to your area of expertise may move you from specialist to generalist, while present organizational trends are to acquire specialized people.

Upward movement along the vertical chain of education is the only tool to survive in the industry where survival is for the fittest only. As we move upward on the vertical chain of education we learn more and more about less and less i.e. it opens new doors of in-depth learning and provides us an opportunity to reassess our learning and practices. Staying away from education after certain period dries up the innovative skills and brings flatness in the performance as the individual thinks that he/she has learned every thing. But innovations and improvements in concepts, ideas and techniques are generally moving at a much faster pace compared to any individual and continuously acquiring higher education will get you retired before you get obsolete.

Employees in the private or government sector are now realizing the importance of higher education as more and more people at the top of the organizations are being appointed on the basis of higher qualification, the progression requirements on the lower level is becoming stringent. Organizations are reviving their pay structures to compensate for knowledge. Pay structures for Ph.D. faculty in private sector universities starts at an average of Rs. 80,000/month + benefits and moves up with the output of the individual while providing the luxury of time (working hours) and respect.

The best time of acquiring a higher degree is the very moment when you feel, you know all about your job because this is the time when your journey to downhill begins. Second important time of acquiring a higher degree will be the time when you feel that you need to go up on the organizational hierarchy. Third occasion is when you feel like switching your organization for better prospects.

Universities have entered into offering MS and M.Phil. degrees with future extensions into Ph.D. degree, which has opened new doors of learning. The prime objective of these programs is to brush up the learning of individuals and pave way for creative and multi-dimensional thinking. But educating methodology is one of the tools that create differences in the standard of education, as these programs have not been tailored according to the need of the Ph.D. candidates. The methodology being followed in majority of the universities is either too focused on making the students memorize the definitions without inculcating in them the true spirit of the definition, or otherwise, it is more focused on concepts through the case study methodology. However, balancing the two is what is missing from the curriculum and classroom delivery. Providing dedicated research facilities, building analytical and conceptual skills are hard to find. Management of the universities are very much concerned about delivery of the required topics in the class in due number of sessions, but how many of them have actually set standards to ensure that what has been delivered in the class room has actually been grasped by the students. And, how many of the students have actually developed the capability to apply it to the real business environment.

At IQRA University we have always ensured that our focus should be on transforming the leaders of tomorrow, and to achieve this we have used a combination of methodologies.

Firstly, we have developed the course plan of every single course. These course plans are given to the students on the very first day of the class which briefs them about the sequence and types of activities that are going to take place in each of the session so that they can come prepared in the class. Secondly management has created a course standardization document through the involvement of the faculty board, industry leaders, academic council and concerned faculty. These standardization document sets parameters for assessing the students learning outcome of each of the topic being delivered in the class and the management of the university through periodic visits to the classes ensures the achievement of those "students learning outcomes" of the courses.



Secondly, we have always encouraged our faculty to establish a friendly environment in the class and to involve students in the discussions by asking them come prepared, calling them to the front to share not only the theory but the examples they are aware of. And also encouraging them wherever they are correct and helping them in finding their own mistakes.

Thirdly, we have emphasized on the learning of the students through the use of multiple tools such as the use of video and audio. Our class room discussions are supported by latest videos to show students as to how companies in the world are applying concepts that are shared with them. While the audio sessions include the seminars of world's renowned speakers on topics that enhance student's potential beyond books.

We have encouraged and supported our faculty in the use of latest software in education particularly business courses such as Research, Marketing, Statistics, Accounting and Finance equips students with the state-of-the-art analytical skills for quick problem analysis.

Real world cases from the local national and multinational companies are used which prepare students in a discussion based environment towards the kind of problems they can encounter, and harnesses their decision-making skills.

Management has made available multiple latest books on each of the course plus additional reading books and magazines to encourage educators towards the use of multiple book system in their courses. Management has a philosophy for educators, i.e. you name the book we'll get it for you if not available. We have also set up a review board to ensure that only high quality books are being used in the classroom.

Presentations is another important tool which is widely used in our classrooms, where students are asked to speak on certain topics, and to answer the questions of other students. This technique certainly enhances their communication skills and builds confidence in them, which is the most important pre-requisite in the today's job market.

Field research projects are given to the students which are based on real environment situations and are sponsored by corporate sector which enable students to apply their class room learning in a real scenario and build relations with the industry. These projects polish the students towards working as a team and winning as a team.

Class workshops, pre and post discussion quizzes are conducted on regular basis to enforce theoretical learning, and it's application via brief classroom exercises. While, assignments are given to direct students towards additional books and magazines study.

Guest speaker sessions are also organized in each of the course, where experts from the industry come to share their experiences with the students. These sessions bridge the gap between the students and the industry and assure them that there is no knowledge gap between the classroom teaching and practice.

Our library has a dedicated section for Ph.D. researchers equipped with online researching facilities, latest national and international journals, sample research work etc. to facilitate the research process of the students.The curriculum for Ph.D. candidates include courses that develops writing skills in them and university facilitates the publishing of their research work. University has its own research journal available on-line.

But, above all, our eminent faculty which comprises of Ph.D.'s and industry leaders in their respective fields shapes the education methodology, which offer the students a nice blend of theoretical and practical learning while sharing their national and international experiences and exposures.

It is indeed a matter of concern that should we develop the students to meet the job challenges only, or it is our responsibility to educate them the real spirit of what is shared in the classrooms. And, making them not only a better member of the organization but a continuos learner and a contributor to the nation and save them from getting obsolete before they get retired.