The course registration process is key to helping students sail smoothly through to the following academic semester. In this article, we look at the role played by the Faculty Advisors (Fac-Ads) in aiding this process and more.
The allotment of faculty advisors follows a systematic process. A month or two prior to the commencement of the new academic year, every Department’s Consultative Committee, comprising 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 advisors for students of the incoming batch. The nomination process is undertaken bearing in mind the fact that those already serving as advisors to a set of students are not considered during the process, given that they remain advisors to their wards until their graduation. Once the faculty members are nominated, their nominations are, then, sent to the Academic Section, wherein each faculty advisor is randomly assigned to a set of students.
The faculty advisor, contrary to popular belief, plays more than just a nominal role. As suggested by the name itself, the position of the faculty advisor has been established in order for students to be guided in planning their course of study and receiving general advice on the academic programme. Moreover, the extent to which the faculty advisor 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.
Shrilakshmi Ramachandran, Department Legislator , Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, believes that it is ideal for a student to apprise his/her faculty advisor, in the event that he/she has filed a petition with CCASH.
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 advisor. The Faculty Advisor plays a key role in ensuring that students fulfil Department-specific credit requirements in a given semester. In this regard, the Advisor 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 Advisor 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 Advisor may also play an advisory role in problems of non-academic nature, brought to his/her attention by the students. Shrilakshmi Ramachandran, Department Legislator, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, believes that it is ideal for a student to apprise his/her faculty advisor, in the event that he/she has filed a petition with CCASH. In addition, the faculty advisor’s role, she believes, also extends to advising students, who wish to apply for a semester exchange programme with a partner institution. She adds that Faculty Advisors play the role of guardians of students, given that students make an effort to establish rapport with their Faculty Advisors. Now in her final year, she shares from her experience that her faculty advisor has been a constant source of support throughout the time she has spent so far in the Department.
There are, however, key challenges towards ensuring interaction between students and their faculty advisors. On the personal front, students might not, at times, find their Faculty Advisors accessible, based on past interactions. On the institutional front, despite the Faculty Advisors’ approval being a mandate in several circumstances, there exists no exclusive platform, that fosters interaction between students and Faculty Advisors. While there exists no blanket solution to these challenges, the institution of the Faculty Advisor is rendered effective only with interaction between the two parties. Moreover, the need for students to be aware of the Faculty Advisor’s roles is crucial towards maintaining the relevance and proper functioning of the latter.