In this article, we look at the role played by the Faculty Advisers (Fac-Ads) in aiding their advisees and emphasise the need for students to utilise this institutional measure for guidance and support through the duration of their stay in insti. Having spoken to a few professors in this role and others, Abhinand Shankar reports.
The allotment of faculty advisers follows a systematic process. A month or two prior to the commencement of the new academic year, every Department’s Consultation Committee, comprising of the Head of Department and faculty members, convenes a meeting to chart the course forward. An important agenda of the meeting is the nomination of faculty advisers for students of the incoming batch. The nomination process is undertaken bearing in mind the fact that those already serving as advisers to a set of students are not considered during the process, given that they remain advisers to their wards until their graduation. Once the faculty members are nominated, their nominations are, then, sent to the Academic Section, wherein each faculty adviser is randomly assigned to a set of students.
The faculty adviser, contrary to popular belief, plays more than just a nominal role. As suggested by the name itself, the position of the faculty adviser has been established in order to assist students in planning their course of study and receiving general advice on academics. Moreover, the extent to which the faculty adviser carries out his/her duties is dependent on the students he/she has been assigned to, for if students do not approach him/her with queries, clarifications and problems, his/her ability to advise the students on such matters is reduced.
The Ordinances issued by each Department, outline the official responsibilities of a Faculty Advisor, whose approval is mandatory in a few circumstances. The process of course registration is incomplete without the courses chosen by a student being approved by the faculty adviser. The Faculty Advisor plays a key role in ensuring that students fulfil department-specific credit requirements in a given semester. In this regard, the Adviser may recommend that students drop or add certain backlog courses, i.e. courses not completed in earlier semesters. At the same time, if a student finds that he/she will be unable to cope up with the demands of a particular course, he/she may be allowed to drop it with the written approval of his/her Faculty Adviser and the Head of Department, contingent upon maintaining a minimum attendance grade ‘G’ until the date on which the course is dropped. In addition, in the event that a student, who does not adhere to the minimum credit requirements, is struck off the rolls at the end of a semester, he/she may seek re-admission to Dean, Academics with the recommendations of his/her Faculty Advisor and the Head of the Department.
Apart from these listed responsibilities, the Faculty Adviser may also play an advisory role in problems of non-academic nature, brought to his/her attention by the students. For instance, it is ideal for a student to talk to his/her faculty advisor in the event that he/she has filed a petition with CCASH. In addition, the faculty advisor’s role, may also extend to advising students who wish to apply for a semester exchange programme with a partner institution. Faculty Advisers play the role of guardians of students, given that students make an effort to establish rapport with their respective Faculty Advisers. Several students who have done so often have positive experiences in which their faculty advisers have been a constant source of support throughout their time in the institute.
There are, however, key challenges towards ensuring interaction between students and their faculty advisers. On the personal front, students might not, at times, find their Faculty Advisers accessible, based on past interactions. On the institutional front, despite the Faculty Advisers’ approval being a mandate in several circumstances, there exists no exclusive platform, that fosters interaction between students and Faculty Advisers. While there exists no blanket solution to these challenges, the institution of the Faculty Adviser is rendered effective only with interaction between the two parties. Moreover, the need for students to be aware of the Faculty Adviser’s roles is crucial towards maintaining the relevance and proper functioning of the latter. Given that there exist few institutional measures for general advice on life in the institute- be it with respect to academics or otherwise- faculty advisors have the potential to play a crucial role in easing any confusion that students may have, and help in reducing the burden of rigorous workloads in instances when students are unable to fulfil them at any given time. It is therefore important that students, freshies in particular, approach their advisors and familiarise themselves with them so as to have a dependable source of information, help and advice throughout their courses of study.