NAZIR AHMAD GANAI / PARVAZE A SOFI
Developing the Working Model: March towards New Normal
The key factors contributing to the success of SKUAST-Kashmir in ideating, pitching anddeveloping a working model were the freedom and flexibility leveraged under NAHEP, the institutional will and the quick spin-off coming from the application of the working model in the university. Within a span of three years, SKUAST-K became the fastest progressingState Agricultural University, reaching the top 10 SAUs of the nation, getting the BandExcellent category in Atal Innovation Ranking in first attempt.Outstanding scholarly achievements of faculty and students at national and global level, the increased inflow of research grants, local engagement to global impact, international faculty, improved engagement with industry, faculty and student startups, good governance, institutional reforms and overall improvement in learning infrastructure and ecosystem made us a preferred destination for higher education.
Our broader shift in policy mindset was based on the premise that in order to be impactful, higher educations has to come out of classrooms and do away with the structural bottlenecks. The institutions need to move away from existing systems towards adopting new norms such as Creativity, Innovation, Discovery and Technology. Such a shift was possible through the inbuilt flexibility of all components of our system viz., faculty, students, stakeholders, and governancesystemfor setting futuristic targets and makinga course corrections.
Major Foundations of SKUAST-K Model
A connected network of domains and stakeholders:
Our model is based on thepremise that education is not a stand-alone institution and cannot deliver unless it is connected by domains as well as players. The connections increase the outcome by making the system responsive. Our model seeks to integrate education, research, industry, and stakeholders such as farmers, consumersand governments to create a holistic set-up that delivers solutions to problems and improves the system output.
Flexibility of curriculum:
Our model is based on a flexible curriculum where students have the freedom of choice to select courses that suit their academic and research pursuits in line with the demands of the national and global job market and industry. We created a curated semester system comprising mainstream academic courses, as well as other courses for upskilling and reskilling. The university has created a broad-based and diverse cafeteria of courses for students to choose from. The students have complete freedom within the institutional framework of regulations to choose from such cafeteria courses and these courses are duly accounted for through another innovative toolkit viz., NextGen© transcript that is a record of accomplishments in academic and skill courses.
Innovation and Discovery driven education:
SKUAST-K is poised to be the first innovation-led farm university in India with academic and research programmes aligned towards translational research that could help develop technology-based solutions to farm sector problems. University is proactively pursuing an ecosystem that promotes innovation and discovery with a focus on technology & product development, technology &product commercialisation and patenting. This has led to aflurry of patent applications from the university and seven patents in just one year post-NEP 2020 and 42 more under administrative processing.
Policy initiatives for entrepreneurship and Startups:
SKUAST-K has the privilege of being the first agricultural university in India to draft and enact a Startup Policy that seeks to create an enabling ecosystem for promoting entrepreneurship and Startups at both faculty and student level. The policy aims to create an institutional mechanism for benefit sharing and IP holding rights, which is something first of its kind. As a result of this initiative, two faculty members and five students have set up their own Startup companies.
Reforms in assessment: