As evaluation capabilities of employers improves, importance of conventional degrees will decline -DB Phatak, IIT Bombay

Recently, I heard Prof D.B. Phatak of IIT Bombay speak at ACM India’s Workshop on Computing Curricula. He talked about various ways in which MOOCs and technology will (should?) transform higher education in India.

Here are a few points I found interesting:

  • Current universities in India have a rigid course structure. This leads to problems like: Smarter students cannot learn fast. Slower students cannot learn slower, unless they fail the course, in which case, they get exactly double the amount of time. If you already know the material of a course, you cannot prove this and skip the course.

  • This is arrogance from the Universities. In any other industry, this kind of behavior would not be accepted by the customers. Why do students still flock to universities?

  • Employers currently recognize only conventional degrees from ‘reputed’ universities, and hence, to get jobs, students submit to the unjustified arrogance of universities.

  • This will change. A degree from a university is just a first filter. Employers really care only about your capabilities, and as they get better at evaluating the capabilities of students reliably and scalably, especially through the use of technology, the reliance on conventional degrees from conventional universities will reduce.

I take this to mean that more and more employers will start using automated evaluation technology like Reliscore (which DBP mentioned in his talk!) to evaluate the capabilities of students instead of relying on conventional degrees, and we will see the rise of self-taught students who learn from MOOCs.