Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) Delhi, throughout its glorious history, has played a pivotal role in the field of commerce and economics education in the country since the early 1900s. A student pursuing a degree in commerce from SRCC is a transformation in motion, both during and after the graduation from the college. THE WEEK Hansa Survey has ranked SRCC as the top most college for commerce education in the country. In an interview with THE WEEK, Prof. Simrit Kaur, Principal, SRCC talks about different aspects that make the college stand out from the rest of the commerce colleges in the country and the ongoing initiatives the college has undertaken to deal with the pandemic.
How has SRCC managed to stay at the top in commerce education in India?
At SRCC, the student is sublimed, distilled, immersed, refined, redefined and completely transformed by an encouraging environment that promotes both didactic and autodidactic learning and development. The students are taught and mentored by faculty members who are known and respected for their research and books. A large number of books for nearly all subjects in the discipline have been written by SRCC faculty members. This kind of tutelage and two-way democratic engagement of thought and expression lead to students developing a keen appreciation for commerce in specific, and life in general. Additionally, the pedagogy is equally rooted in traditionalism and modernism, where we incorporate both classical methods like chalk and talk as well as newer methods like participative learning. These methods focus on instilling a deep sense of conceptual clarity and curiosity for life-long learning in students, something very clearly observed in the alumni of the college. Apart from the curricular programme of the University offered by the college, the institution offers greater value addition as it regularly provides add on courses, internships, schemes for academic research and research mentoring to its students. Students can pursue relevant add-on courses which are introduced in collaboration with industry to bridge any curricular gap. At the same time the students can publish their research in house through a very exertive academic mentoring process, as well as avail funding to present their research at various national and international forums.
Also the environs of the college promotes an all encompassing education beyond curriculum. In addition to the great student support system of extensive peer-to-peer mentoring and learning provided by the institution, the college encourages students to foster community spirit and team participation through its fifty plus students’ societies. Students can pursue their extra-curricular interests in diversified areas—from performing arts like dance and craft, to sports, to hosting very large events, and social care and community welfare amongst others. The biggest strength of pursuing a course at SRCC is the associated brand name of the institution and the pride of being an 'SRite'. A graduate degree at SRCC often acts as a visiting card to greater ventures in life. The brand recognition of the college helps students progress at an accelerating rate in their chosen course of career.
What kind of collaborations and initiatives has your college undertaken in recent times?
Several initiatives were taken to enhance the consultancy profile and extend the college’s industry-academia interface. The college has signed an MoU with Indian Corporate Law Service Academy (ICLS), Manesar, under which faculty members of SRCC design and administer training modules for new recruits of the Academy. A similar MoU has been signed between SRCC and RBI under which faculty members of SRCC conduct a training programme for Grade B and Grade C officers of the RBI. Our college is the only undergraduate college to have collaborated on training and consultancy with ICLS Academy and RBI. The college has also undertaken a research project of the government of India on regulatory issues pertaining to digital platforms.
Recently, our college was awarded two National Resource Centres in Commerce and Economics by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD). In July 2019, our college launched two refresher courses: Refresher Course in Commerce and Refresher Course in Economics. These refresher courses are sponsored by the HRD, under its initiative “Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching (ARPIT). These refresher courses were designed to provide the faculty members an exposure about the latest developments in the frontiers of knowledge in the subjects spanning the field of commerce and economics. Both courses are for a duration of 40 hours each, delivered over a period of 16 weeks through the SWAYAM portal of MHRD. Each course consisted of video lectures, e-content, discussion forums and weekly assessments for the participants. Since their launch, over 11,000 combined participants have enrolled for these courses. The National Resource Centre has also set up a state of the art soundproof video studio lab consisting of modern multimedia capabilities.
How did you innovate during the pandemic?
We had to ensure academic well-being during the lockdown and pursuant to the university notice on March 13, 2020, a staff council meeting was convened for strategising how best the process of teaching-learning would continue during lockdown. It was decided that faculty, in addition to providing e-resources through the institutional website, would explore and adopt multi-modal channels to deliver the curriculum, such as taking online classes. It was also decided that they would remain available to the students during their stipulated academic hours. Consequently, a mail was sent to students with a copy to the faculty informing them of the modalities for contacting the faculty concerned and also accessing e-resources through the institutional website. Additionally, two separate Google surveys were conducted—one each from faculty and students—enquiring participation, perception, effectiveness, and satisfaction due to the paradigm shift in teaching learning modalities due to the lockdown.
At the same time, our college has proactively taken steps prior and during the current Covid-19 situation towards its commitment of emotional and psychological well-being of its stakeholders. To address anxiety and stress, especially of the students, during the lockdown, a coordinated strategy has been formulated and implemented by the counselling services. Two senior faculty members were appointed as nodal officers for formally counselling and addressing student queries.
Currently regular college work is going on satisfactorily despite the exceptional circumstances. The principal, office of the principal, AO admin and AO accounts continue to handle routine matters and also communicate with the university and UGC. Our Computer Centre (CC), too, has taken over the additional burden of uploading e-resources competently. The CC is also in the process of framing modalities wherein the faculty will be able to upload their e-resources directly, negating the present requirement of routing it through the CC and the Principal’s Office. For cleanliness of premises, including watering of plants and garbage disposal, minimal staff has been asked to report for duty. We have also created WhatsApp groups wherein the members are the principal and various year-wise and subject-wise class representatives. Currently six such groups exist, three each for commerce and economics streams.
Are you planning to introduce any new hybrid courses or new subject streams during this academic year?
To augment and enhance the skill sets of students and align it to industry expectation, our college launched its first value added course in August 2018. Since then, various value-added courses have been introduced. These short term courses are in collaboration with a specialized industry partner with a very specific aim of closing the curricular gaps. The value-added courses have garnered a very positive response from the students.
What are your plans for this academic year?
Owing to the ongoing pandemic, the college continues to function in a hybrid mode, where teaching and learning is conducted online and only limited staff visit the college. Our college plans to enhance its environmental profile in a major way and emerge as a role model in the same. Our solar power project is nearly complete and has started generation of electricity. We have also developed our in-house solid waste management system. We also plan to introduce more value-added courses in collaboration with industry partners to further enhance the skill and growth profile of our students.