TISS abolishes placements, encourages entrepreneurship
The MA in Social Entrepreneurship course at the Tata Institute of Social Studies (TISS), Mumbai, which was launched four years ago, has decided to put an end to placements starting this year to encourage students to encourage its students to take up entrepreneurship.
Although not for a full-fledged MBA programme, here is a business school which has decided to withdraw the safety net of placements for its graduates so that they are pushed to start their own ventures.
The Masters of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship (MA in SE) course at the Tata Institute of Social Studies (TISS), Mumbai which was launched four years ago, has decided to put an end to placements starting this year.
The last batch that was recruited through campus placement was the one that graduated in 2011, albeit with a process that lasted rather long.
Prof Satyajit Majumdar, who is in charge of the course at the School of Management and Labour Studies, TISS, said that the move was an effort to encourage students to come up with their own ideas.
"The philosophy of the programme is to come up with innovative solutions to social problems, so simply handing over jobs to students was defeating the purpose of the programme," he said.
Students of the 2011-12 batch were intimated of the change in the placement process at the time of admissions itself.
When asked why placements had been permitted in the earlier years at all if the philosophy of the course was entrepreneurship, Prof Majumdar said that the course needed to find a foothold during its fledgling stage and the participation of companies helped push the process.
"Over the years, quite a few students from every batch started setting up their own startups. Many of these were making noteworthy contribution to the society. For instance, helping farmers in coastal Andhra Pradesh increase their productivity, or providing low-cost to free dental care in Haryana and also making education accessible to poor children. Since such notable ventures were anyway being created, it made sense to do away with placements totally," he justified.
Image: Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Course without placements looks attractive on paper but in reality more is required, say students
In addition, internship opportunities from organisations government-based bodies such as UNICEF and NABARD, Planning Commission and Tata Steel have also been discontinued with the same justification.
Talking about the course, Prof Majumdar said that in the first semester, students are encouraged to visit rural India while in the second semester, students are asked to start their pilot ventures.
"The semester focusses on students working in tandem with the institute to develop these ventures while the fourth semester is the final stage where a blueprint of the pilot venture plan is finalised. The journey is an exercise in making students fund-worthy," said Prof Majumdar.
However, few students from the course did not seem to perturbed with the changes. Since they were informed in advance, they were prepared for it. However, they did say that the course structure did not do enough to instill the necessary skills for self-starting in the students.
"The institute needs to invest more in terms of equipping students with sound entrepreneurial skills so that we can start on our own," said one of the students. Another student said that the course without the placements looked attractive on paper but in reality more was required.
Yet another student said that many of the student start-ups either had not taken off or were simply not revenue-generating. "Some of the students who had established their undertakings are also doing part-time jobs as the money they are making is not adequate," the student informed.
Some students said that TISS should shoulder the responsibility of employing students if the startups fail.
Discussing some of these fears, Prof Majumdar said that to ensure practical learning, the course collaborated with other global networks to share the knowledge imparted in the classrooms.
"Besides, the institute is also taking a customised version of the course to corporates. The course has being well received by India Inc, and that they were keen on engaging their employees in social work."
He added, "The future of the course is very bright, and it is growing both quantitatively and qualitatively."
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh