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Passive degrees and active professional careers is the challenge, if you see the world around. Passive degrees mean an undergraduate course which imparts no skills for job or life, takes you through three years of an outdated academic exercise, not enough even for an academic career / pursuit, punctuated by a few exams ending up in a mark sheet & degree. This definition may sound harsh but it reflects reality as it stands. When reading and writing in any field meant a job with bit of a domain knowledge interspersed, life & world were different.

Disciplines didn’t change for decades, the curriculum and the teacher were etched in stone and demand side economics did not too unchanged. The student had to clear some exam or make a direct entry into a job and the enterprise and the ecosystem took care of the rest. In a few years he would became a professional, with hardly any competition from anywhere. This was the snail mail Vs the email scenario now. They were no knowledge repositories, no global experts, no professional writers and thinkers and no knowledge on the fly. The Khan Academys &  the TEDs.

This world of today does not believe in passive degrees, it has space for only high end active degrees. Passive preparation for a job has to transform into active readiness. A degree which provides this readiness in an active degree. This in turn implies a curriculum as near as possible to the cutting edge knowledge in that area, internships to provide the hands on and an ecosystem which forces you into curiosity, organic scaling and knowledge enhacement as sine qua non of academic / professional existence. Passive degrees can either become museum pieces or be sacrificed at the altar of automation.

This differentiation can send a chill down the spine of the students getting ready to join the workforce in the  next few years and should be a grim reminder to change tracks. If the academic degrees are unable to make the change, there are innumerable ways to learn and  match up to the requirements of the day. The base of regular course and self propelled scaling might just make the cut. Waiting for the system to change might be a tall order, this would be the ideal way of initiating change. When low end tech and other jobs get gobbled by automation, this change would automatically be forced upon.


Sanjay Sahay

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