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A M Thimmiya, Sr.Vice President, Distributed Learning, Manipal Education

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, A M Thimmiya say’s "In last six years there has been a dramatic increase from around 17,000 students to more than 180,000 students presently."

March 10, 2014 11:27 IST | India Infoline News Service

A M Thimmiya, Sr.Vice President, Distributed Learning, Manipal Education is responsible for the Distance Education Initiatives of the group. The last six years with Manipal Education has seen him spearheading the distance education community from around 17,000 students to more than 180, 000 students presently, across a reach of over 650 Learning centers not only in India, but in over 21 countries globally. Prior to joining Manipal Education, Thimmiya was heading the Domestic Operations of Aptech Computer Education. He has handled Senior Management position in top IT companies and has managed multiple profit centers in Product sales, Software development, Consulting, Training & Education. Most of his 25 years of professional experience has been in the areas of Training and Education.

Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) is the result of a unique partnership between the Government of Sikkim and Manipal Education. Established in 1995, it is the first government-private initiative in the region. It was set up with the objective of providing the best in education for students.Sikkim Manipal University - Directorate of Distance Education (SMU-DDE),amongst the largest distance education providers in India,was established in 2001 under the aegis of Sikkim Manipal University, as part of its efforts to bring education to the masses. Sikkim Manipal University-Distance Education (SMU-DE) offers career-oriented programs in 51 courses across 11 disciplines at the Diploma, Bachelors, Postgraduate Diploma and Masters level. Programs are offered in various disciplines like Information Technology, Telecom Technology, Management Studies, Commerce, Allied Health Science, Biotechnology & Bioinformatics, Journalism & Mass Communication, Fashion Design, Hospitality and Tourism, Ecology and Environmental Science and commerce.

Replying to Anil Mascarenhas of IIFL, A M Thimmiya say’s "In last six years there has been a dramatic increase from around 17,000 students to more than 180,000 students presently."

Give us a brief overview of the institute. What new trends are you seeing in student interest and activity?
Sikkim Manipal University-Directorate of Distance Education (SMU-DDE) is amongst the largest distance education providers in India. Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) is the result of a unique partnership between the Government of Sikkim and Manipal Education. Established in 1995, it is the first government-private initiative in the region. It was set up with the objective of providing the best in education for students. 

SMU DDE was established in 2001 as part of its efforts to bring education to the masses to fulfill the growing demand for professionals and individuals who do not have the luxury of time to join regular, full-time courses. More than 40 programs are offered at Diploma, Graduate, PG diploma and PG degree levels in various disciplines like Information Technology, Telecom Technology, Management Studies, Commerce, Allied Health Science, Biotechnology & Bioinformatics, Journalism & Mass Communication, Fashion Design, Hospitality and Tourism, Telecom and commerce. All programs are career oriented dealing with higher professional education. The programs offered by SMU-DE are recognized by the Distance Education Council of the Government of India. In order to provide online learning to all the Distance Education students of SMU-DE and impart quality education through cutting edge technology, Manipal offers EduNXT, the next-generation interactive learning system. Affordable and easy to use, EduNXT enables a collaborative and interactive environment for learning thus shifting the Education paradigm from being ‘faculty-centric’ to a ‘learner-centric’. It enables making quality education available to all, at the convenience of their own time and location. 

The student intake has increased manifold over the past years. In last six years there has been a dramatic increase from around 17,000 students to more than 180, 000 students presently. The percentage of students opting for distance education courses has phenomenally increased to 57% from 2007 to 2010. Students have shown strong interest in IT and MBA courses among others.

What feelers do you get from the industry regarding the requirements from B-school students?
In the fast changing economic climate, today’s business world is heavily influenced by international factors, including foreign markets, multicultural consumers, increasing global footprint. B-schools students need to have a global mindset, for example, develop leadership skills of self-awareness and self-reflection; and develop an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of business, and the limitations of models and markets. Even if one does not plan to specialize in global management or international affairs, the best business schools emphasize this global influence in all classes and as part of their overarching program goals.  

The students are also required to have the right degree and skill-sets necessary for success in the position they are trying to fill: namely communication skills (verbal and written), a strong work ethic, teamwork skills (works well with others), initiative and analytical skills, ability to scale and take higher responsibilities, people skills, leadership development, skill at critical, creative, and integrative thinking, and understanding organizational realities and most importantly practical skills: how to run a meeting, make a presentation, and give performance feedback.

What do you think needs to be done to make the students job-ready?
It's the need of the hour that students who graduate are industry/job ready from day one. The job environment is such that educational institutes need to work towards bridging the skill gap and prepare them for the competitive work environment. Internships and similar placements are a good way to gain exposure and good insight to working life, before being employed. Core competencies such as lateral thinking, decision making, interpersonal skills, to think analytically, and communicate effectively, orally and in writing, to understand business imperatives and connections - are important skills, which need to be built into the curriculum. By giving students the theoretical knowledge behind their chosen field of subject, training in practical skills and soft skills it allows more transferable skills to be applied in the workplace and they become more employable when applying for jobs in the highly competitive graduate market. However, it is really the broader skills that will help students develop further careers and that will provide employers with greater benefits in the long run.

Isn’t a general MBA good enough to get offers in the banking sector? In which areas is there a special need? What are the unique features of this programme?
As per the McKinsey report ‘India Banking 2010’, the banking sector index has grown at a compounded annual rate of over 51 per cent since the year 2001, as compared to a 27 percent growth in the market index during the same period. It is projected that the sector has the potential to account for over 7.7 per cent of GDP with over Rs.7, 500 billion in market cap, and to provide over 1.5 million jobs. The banking sector is growing at a fast pace, outperforming the Indian economy with a CAGR of 7% from 2000 to a projected CAGR of 11% - 15% in 2010-2011, according to IIBF and Investment commission of India. An estimated 5 lac employees of Public Sector banks would retire in the next 5 years. Employment and up skilling opportunities are therefore endless, the McKinsey report adds.

Today, banks have diversified their activities and are getting into new products and services that include opportunities in credit cards, consumer finance, wealth management, life and general insurance, investment banking, mutual funds, pension fund regulation, stock broking services, custodian services, private equity, etc. Further, most of the leading Indian banks are going global, setting up offices in foreign countries, by themse

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