Re-starting the academic year in the state may not be very tough. A survey has shown that 91% of students have smartphones and about 6% have no device to log into a class. But interestingly, amid the much hullabaloo over exams, most students are not sure about where their degree will lead them and 82% felt they need to pick up a skill to up their employability quotient.
A survey of 38,101 (1% of candidate strength in the state) students in higher education – 19,495 female, 18,602 male and 4 transgender – was done at all university regions in the state. Conducted by two educationists appointed to draw the future road map for higher education in the state, IITB’s B N Jagatap and education researcher Anand Mapuskar tried to assess ‘Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Higher Education in Maharashtra: What is in the minds of students?’.
The report has some grave findings with economic anxiety weighing heavy on students’ minds. “82% anticipate difficulty in funding their education in academic year 2020-21. The difficulty is for 80% of females and 84% of males.
As a fallout of the pandemic, 51% students said they will take up part-time jobs, 18% will take up earn-and-learn schemes, and 9% aim to help family agriculture/business part-time to continue studies. About 9% students said they’ll quit studies and take up full-time jobs.
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The educationists felt colleges need to “stay connected” with students, “counsel” them and run “earn and learn” schemes. As online education picks up, “smartphone with mobile internet” is most popular device. But 33% students feel online education is useful, 26% want face-to-face teaching and 4% said they just did not find online education useful.
“A strong drive on war-footing is needed to prepare teachers and students for online teaching and learning. It is also vital to remove apprehension in students’ minds about online exams,” the educationists said. “Faculty members must innovate to prepare student-centric online teaching resources so students get full benefit of online courses.”
Students were provided seven challenges arising due to Covid-19 and were told to rank them in terms of severity. They ranked the challenges as: conducting college programmes with care, attending classroom lectures, commuting to college, online education, online exam, education expenses and staying in hostel. “As the majority (73%) live in their homes, difficulty of staying in hostel doesn’t figure high in the opinion poll.”
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