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Boutique Institutions:  The New Reality In Higher Education Landscape

Chances are, the term "boutique institution" makes your mind oscillate in and out of confusion. Boutique is the new black now; it is emerging as a niche that is strongly determining the prevailing trends. Believe it or not, this next big wave is sweeping the higher education landscape and leading to big transformation. A massive number of educational institutions are happily embracing the concept of Boutique and have become a ‘preferred choice’ amongst the young aspirants.

But, the pressing question is - why boutique institutions are new superhero of the higher education landscape? Many of the prestigious educational institutions are consistently failing to focus on the holistic development of the students career because they're still limited to the quantitative learning that circles around a large-sized classroom packed with students and faculty. Sadly, Indian education sector is not matured enough to address some of the underlying challenges of the job-readiness of the graduates.

Many surveys revealed that by 2030 India’s workforce will be larger than that of China with maximum new entrants in the urban areas.

The need of the hour is imparting skill-based (qualitative) knowledge in the present scenario where many countries count India amongst the world's most important emerging economies so that graduating students can take up their industry roles smoothly. Also, it is equally important to remain competitive with high degree of professional competence and adequate exposure in the changing business world. A bachelor degree from a prestigious college is not going to help you to fetch a desired job because the educational institutes are constantly failing to maintain a right alignment of curriculum with industry requirements.

Qualitative learning nurtures the young aspirants with the following competencies - Power to Synthesise, Power to Take Decisions, Power to Collaborate and Power to Achieve & Lead.

By recognizing the pressing labor market requirements, the Boutique educational institutes nurture the students with the necessary skill and talent required for a job through a strategic partnerships between the industry and academia. They give a significant importance to skill-based education with a major focus on areas like creative thinking, problem solving abilities, interpersonal skills, leadership aptitude, business communication skills and decision making capabilities.

Unlike the large sized classrooms of the big UGC-approved universities that often fail to provide an inquiry-based learning outcome that leads to stress and high anxiety amongst the students, Boutique Institutions make sure the individuality, creativity and innovation of the students are not frowned upon. They hold true for a student-friendly environment – regardless of the functional value and academic qualifications, but it emphasis more on better mentoring and high personal attention. At boutique institutes, students get a safe and congenial environment where they can prosper and bloom their sense of individuality. They're not left behind as ‘a nameless spectator’ stuck in the drowning large crowd.

A boutique institute for higher education is all about imparting the quality higher education to the young aspirants and make them industry-ready. Inspired by the "Big Fish-Little Pond effect" at the core, these establishments provide a welcoming ambiance in a small-sized classroom where each student gets an opportunity to shape the willingness to tackle the real world challenges with full confidence. Here, students get a safe and confined environment where they can conveniently prosper and bloom their sense of individuality with a maximum flexibility and industry-focused coursework.

Let's delve into some major positive educational benefits of choosing boutique institutes for higher education over top-notch universities:

1. Perfect student:teacher ratio:

Still, there are many universities where "publish or perish" is the phrase of the day; the teaching staff is compelled to focus more on research instead of imparting education to the students. At boutique institute, the major focus of the professors is to increase the learning of students and bridge the gap between academia and industry by giving significance to the job-readiness of the students. This way professors make every possible attempt to address a grave problem by training the aspiring youngsters with the necessary professional skills. They align the academic curriculum with the various requirements and demands of the dynamic industry. Also, it is making changes in the existing classroom methodology and a theory-heavy approach by giving more importance to practical case studies. The institute offering a number of industry relevant professional programmes, which provide the young aspirants better deeper insights about the competitive industry.

2. No overcrowding means better attention:

Unlike large universities where you find yourself in a big lecture hall fully-packed with the crowd of hundreds of classmates, attending your favorite professional course at boutique institutes will be entirely different experience. There will be no overcrowding of students, which means the students will get the attention they need from their teachers. "Approximately 14-percent of all higher education institutes are exceeding capacity, and more than 8-percent are overcrowding their classroom size by more than 25-percent." In boutique institutes, you will find the small classroom environment with fewer than 30 students in a class, which provide you a much better opportunity to interact, ask questions, participate in discussion, learn and grow intellectually. You don't have to be a nameless spectator stuck in the large crowd of a mega-university, which often make the students feel left-out. As a result, they've become more disruptive than ever and out of frustration, some students drop out.

3. Skill-based learning:

In the dynamic industry, the demand of more world-ready professionals with the core skill set is constantly rising. Considering the urgency of the fast and newer skills, the skill-based learning has become the top priority of aspiring youngsters nowadays. At boutique institute, the focus is more on imparting Skill-based education, which is somewhat missing in most of the reputed UGC recognized higher education institutes. It emphasis more on practical and dynamic approach. It nurtures students with theoretical knowledge along with skill-based education with a careful emphasis on the personality development and behavioral aspects, interpersonal skills and leadership capability, higher level problem solving ability, excellent written and communication skills as well as decision-making skills and innovation.

4. Up-skilling for practical exposure:

Boutique focus mainly on imparting the students the much-needed practical workplace exposure via short-term industrial projects in collaboration with industry experts, internships, and corporate interactions. This way, the students not only sync with the prevailing and current industrial trends, but they get an idea about how the corporate industry operates. Also, they get familiar with the current realities of the workplace, which is quite imperative in determining the career success graph of these individuals.

The heart of the matter

Boutique institutes with lesser number of students in classroom definitely plays a critical role in fostering better quality education and higher achievement. You may be surprised to learn the many positive learning effects that various studies on classroom observations have revealed:

1) personalized student attention and the higher level of flexibility that the students really appreciate.

2) small classroom sizes instantly rise attendance percentage by 11% students are less likely to drop out

3) small classroom environment results in better student engagement and achievement

4) teachers provide better and more-tailored education in smaller classes

Attending a professional diploma or short-term certification course at Boutique Institution over a full-time degree course in university, will surely offer a student-centred learning environment.

Albert Einstein famously said, “I have no special talents… I am only passionately curious.” The same psychology supports the concept of boutique, which equips the students with academics and skill-based training while satisfying a deeper curiosity of every student present in the classroom. It nurtures the student's general cognitive ability rather than the intelligence quotient.

Always remember: overall skills matter, not just academic excellence.

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A passionate contributor and a fervent bibliophile from India. I strongly believes every story is unique and beautiful in its own way. I am the Jack of all trades, and hopefully Master of some! For me, there is no end to learning. Every ray of light comes with ample learning opportunities.

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