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Education Plus    Kerala   

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The new-age commerce graduate

A new-age commerce syllabus is in the offing at Kerala University. The thorough overhaul of the content of its commerce courses is meant to make the students better-equipped to meet the requirements of the emerging job market, writes N.J. NAIR.

BRAVE NEW WORLD: The syllabus includes Internet banking too.

COMMERCE EDUCATION is set for a thorough change. Kerala University has taken the lead in revising the syllabus of the post-graduate and degree courses to make it more relevant and contextual in the emerging global scenario.

The syllabus revision is not just a routine exercise, but a meaningful attempt keeping in mind the drastic changes sweeping the trade and commerce arena in the international market. The world of opportunities thrown open by globalisation, business process outsourcing (BPO), developments in the banking and insurance sectors, changes in the export and import polices and the increased application of computers in accounting have all been given due importance in the revision process.

Making it meaningful

According to M. Sarngadharan, head of the Department of Commerce and chairman of the postgraduate board of studies, the M.Com. syllabus has already been revised and to make the process more meaningful, the new syllabus would be introduced for B.Com. in the coming academic year itself. "The entire PG syllabus has been revamped with a professional approach. We were not mindlessly adopting the UGC syllabus. The thrust of the revision was on making the degree and post-graduate courses more job-oriented and equipping the students to secure jobs without further training in banking, insurance and IT-enabled services. Now our syllabus is on a par with other prestigious universities in the country. Commerce is one of the optional subjects for the Civil Services examination. Any student who studies the new syllabus can appear for the examination without much effort. They can also appear for the National Eligibility Test of the UGC and junior research fellowship too," he says.

The first step

As a preliminary step, Dr. Sarngadharan held a workshop for 40 teachers. They were provided with the syllabi of CA, CFA and ICWA, and the draft syllabus drawn up by the University Grants Commission (UGC). After a thorough briefing about the need for a drastic change in the papers as well as the teaching method, the teachers were engrossed in group discussions and they came out with more creative suggestions for incorporating the relevant portions of all these courses. Their suggestions were adopted after multi-level discussions in the academic bodies of the university. The workshop was organised to clear the misgivings in the minds of the teachers about the revision process, he says.

One of the papers that has been introduced was `Management concepts and thought.' "This paper gives a clear understanding about organisational behaviour, relationship between management and organisational behaviour, business ethics, motivation, organisational conflicts, and almost everything relevant to modern management. This would give a clear orientation to a student to overcome the dilemmas he would have to face on taking up a new job," he says.

Strategic management

Strategic management is yet another component. This paper covers strategies for modernisation, diversification, disinvestment and liquidation, marketing, production, personal, financial and research and development polices too. Strategic management has also been linked to global market and international trading. "This paper would sharpen the acumen of a student to take prudent business decisions and tackle challenges in a dynamic business milieu," says Dr. Sarngadharan.

The paper on `Management Information Systems (MIS) and Computer Applications' has been worked out in such a way as to familiarise the students with the application of computers in making managerial decisions and the latest developments in information systems.

It also helps the students to be aware of the application of computers in the development, functioning and maintenance of information systems. The paper covers fundamentals of computer, data processing concepts and system analysis and design.

Banking and insurance

Due importance has been given to the banking and insurance sectors. These sectors, which have been opened up are expected to generate five lakh jobs within the next five years. The system that was followed so far left no scope for specialisation. But the components of the new syllabus have been designed to suit the job market needs. In addition to the basics of banking system, international banking, covering the foreign exchange market and international capital movement, treasury management and specifics of universal banking, Internet and intranet banking, have been included in this paper. `Insurance law and practice' too has covered all relevant areas in the sector such as insurance laws and different categories of insurance.

Customer service

Special care has been taken to impart professional knowledge in customer service. Each student would have to specialise in a particular area and prepare a project report. It is almost like an internship to take a job, says Dr. Sarngadharan.

The paper on international business gives an exposure to the environmental dynamics of international business and its impact on the business operations of a domestic company that does international trading. The paper has in its ambit international economic institutions and agreements, foreign exchange markets and details of the nature and functioning of multinational corporations. Tax, which was an optional subject, has been made compulsory so that a student would have a firm grounding in tax laws. Tax planning and management has been made optional too.

"The draft syllabus for B.Com has already been prepared. "The syllabus revision at the degree level is aimed at complementing the changes made at the post-graduate level. We have envisaged changes that would provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of computers, management, business environment, accounting, auditing, tax banking and insurance. Special accent would be laid on giving the students domain knowledge to secure jobs in IT-enabled services. For, there would be a spurt in job opportunities in this realm by 2010," he says.

Communication skills

In order to improve the communication and linguistic skills of commerce graduates, theory papers would be worked out and taught in a unique manner. Top priority would be given to the teaching of English, to instil confidence among the students to attend tests and interviews. Semester system has been mooted to improve the quality of the course. If the semester system is introduced it would increase the workload of teachers and hence more teachers' posts have to be created. This involves financial commitment. Being a policy decision, introduction of the new system has to be ratified by the Government.

"A workshop for teachers has been planned to give finishing touches to the new syllabus and getting their creative inputs. But anyway the Department of Commerce is working in a time-bound manner to introduce the new syllabus in the next academic year. I am confident that the changes to improve the quality of commerce education that have been initiated would give immediate results. We have made considerable progress in the revision process and is sure to achieve the target," he says.

Students now have an affinity for management courses. It is the career prospects they offer that lure the students to such courses. The syllabus revision would bring about a qualitative change in the degree and PG courses and these students also can look forward for covetable jobs, he says.

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