The Tribune interview

‘It is a challenge to keep students satisfied during online classes’

We are done with all preparations for opening of colleges, says officiating Vice-Chancellor of DAV University Dr Jasbir Rishi

‘It is a challenge to keep students satisfied during online classes’

Dr Jasbir Rishi, officiating Vice-Chancellor, DAV University, Jalandhar

Academics in pandemic

Officiating Vice- Chancellor of DAV University, Dr Jasbir Rishi, needs no introduction. A multi-talented personality, she has worked in the fields of academics, theatre, social work and media. She holds M Phil and PhD degree in psychology and has 33 years of experience in teaching. Dr Rishi also directs plays and skits. She holds 30 years of experience as a journalist, who also worked as the news reader of Doordarshan Kendra, Jalandhar. She also worked at the international level for promoting Punjabi culture and ethos. In a conversation with Deepkamal Kaur, she shares her experience and challenges she faced in her professional journey. Excerpts.

How has been your new experience as the VC of DAV University?

I joined DAV University as the officiating VC in June this year. Prior to this, I was serving as the Dean, Students Welfare, here since 2017. For me, my college management has been the same as I had a long innings in HMV College (also run by the DAV College Management Committee) where I also served as the head of the Department of Psychology. My experience has been good, especially when there were several challenges keeping in view the Covid times.

What have been your challenges so far?

It was a challenge to keep the students satisfied as they were taking online classes from their places. We ensured that we took up all their grievances well in time and responded to them on priority. It was little difficult to keep them satisfied with regard to the pattern of online classes, conduct of examination, doing assignments from home and incorporating suggestions from everyone in the system to make it work well. Of course, the biggest challenge that came in my tenure has been with regard to admissions.

How have the admissions been?

The admissions to almost all courses went quite well with regard to the previous year. We have got a much better response to our courses, including BBA, B Com BSc (Agriculture), B Tech (Computer Sciences), MA (English) and BA (English honours). Our admissions to undergraduate courses are still underway and will continue till October 31. We have got a good number of students from surrounding areas, including Jalandhar, Pathankot, Hoshiarpur city, Mukerian, Dasuya and Adampur. Owing to proximity from Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, we have got a sizable number of students from these states too, especially for the last fortnight after the restrictions on movement got eased. While we already used to have students from Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Bihar, for the first time this year we have also got registrations from West Bengal and Odisha. Since the examination of the final year graduation courses took place late, the admissions for PG courses will remain underway for sometime in November too.

When do you intend to start the classes for students?

Even though admissions to UG courses will remain on till October 31, we had started classes for them in August-end. Since students were feeling bored and frustrated sitting at home, we started classes around the same time as other colleges did, but maintained very slow pace. Our orientation programme went on for five-six days. We practically started classes in the first week of September.

Now that the government has allowed to hold campus classes, when do you intend to start offline classes for them?

We are done with all our preparations and will apprise the DAV management regarding all arrangements we have made in the forthcoming meeting. A decision will be taken after the meeting. In the meantime, we have also passed on consent forms to the parents and will seek their approvals too.

What all arrangements are you making to keep the students safe on the campus?

We have got readied more hostels so that a safe environment can be provided to all students staying here. We will have regular sanitisation system. Since we have a huge campus, maintaining social distancing will not be an issue. We will have very few kiosks for eatables on the campus – only for tea, coffee and juice. These too will be placed at a large distance. No outside food will be available on the campus. Our messes will serve clean food, cooked in-house. Our day scholars will be allowed to have food from the mess. We have also installed UV-enabled sanitisation boxes at various points. Our staff will remain agile and will use thermal scanners for checking the body temperature of every entrant inside the campus and hostel. We will also have a proper dispensary in place so that we are able to isolate and handle any sick student well in time.

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