Published: 16th April 2019
Tough on discipline and women's safety, how Kerron Reddy's policies have put AIMS on the map
Dr Kerron G Reddy, CEO, AIMS Institutes in Bengaluru, tell us about how they've brought in firm policies to battle sexual harassment and iron out disciplinary issues among their students
From taking care of the charitable school started by her parents right at their home to starting an institution for higher education, Dr Kerron G Reddy, CEO of AIMS Institutes in Bengaluru has come a long way. Back in 1994, when AIMS took off, Dr Reddy says that there were several challenges which they had to overcome. "Though we come from a business family, we were not informed about the financial assistance that banks provide. Colleges and schools never taught us entrepreneurial skills like they do now. We invested in higher education with limited finances and struggled to run the college. The biggest challenge was ensuring that students maintain discipline. Today, we have students from every part of India so there was a little friction. Now, we don't have such issues in our college as students are more mature and are aware of the importance of being together," she explains.
Apart from this, Dr Reddy and her team had to choose the right faculty to provide quality education to the students. She says, "I still remember that we would interact with parents personally and tell them about our courses, high marks scored by several students, career counselling and so on. It took us almost five years, but we were able to establish a brand." Started with only two programmes — BSc in Computer Science and Bachelor’s in Hotel Management — they have expanded to 13 programmes today.
In their backyard: AIMS hotel management students grow vegetables and other herbs in the college premises
They also offer PhD programmes in Management and Commerce where 26 students are pursuing their Doctorates. To ensure that researchers select a relevant topic, the college has a doctoral committee that suggests topics. "These PhD students have to go out to the field and find the reality of the situation. We don't encourage copy-pasting in the thesis. After their thesis is approved, we include it in our library collection so that our UG and PG students can make use of the literature. Apart from this, we ask them to develop augmentation courses for our students based on the themes they have written about," she adds.
Even the lecturers are trained in adopting the best teaching methodologies possible. Dr Reddy says, "Two years ago, when we started an AIMS pre-school, I observed that teachers attended Montessori training before they joined. When it comes to lecturers, there are no training programmes with regards to teaching methodologies. Though the candidate is a PhD holder, he or she might not know the methods of teaching. Therefore, we designed a teaching and learning programme based on outcome assessment in education which very few institutions follow. The teaching and learning methodology course are held for 30 hours and then the teachers need to take 15 hours of classes for our students. Through this, we make them understand the gap between knowledge and skills and the measures they have to take in developing such skills in themselves and students."
Team work: AIMS faculty during the Hospitality week conducted recently
Dr Reddy, who firmly believes in providing a safe place for women to study, has formed a Women's Cell which not only conducts various programmes, but looks into sexual harassment cases too. "We have a committee under the Women's Cell that looks into sexual harassment cases. So far, we have received three complaints, all of them were solved and strict actions against the culprit was taken. On the very first day of the college, we tell female students about the helplines and whom to approach when such incidents take place. It is also important that they report such complaints as and when they happen and not after a few months or years. Due to a good mechanism like this, we receive very few complaints and we ensure that we get justice for women," says Dr Reddy.
When we ask Dr Reddy about the role of autonomous institutions in India, she says, "India now needs many autonomous institutions so that we get to design our own curriculum. The needs of the students and the industries have been changing. These days, industries expect students to be skilled. For instance, we encourage students who want to become entrepreneurs, but their ideas should have a social factor to it. Not just for profit, they should give back to the society too. The results of the students and the recognition in the education field have all proved that autonomous institutions are capable enough to design their own educational programmes that will help students become industry-ready."
While their plan is to set up another campus on a 50 acre land in Chikkaballapur by 2020, they also aim to introduce courses related to Health Sciences and an undergraduate Engineering programme. This campus will also include a state-of-the-art centre and an incubation centre for research where alumni can work.