Aurangabad chapter has been working since 1989 as one of the good chapters of our Institute and has produced many successful Cost Accountants till date. However, after 2011 there was a change in terms of number of admissions and the overall registrations for Inter as well as Final because of various reasons. By the time we reached 2014-15 the number had gone down drastically and even though it was well noted by many it was initially believed to be because of some common socioeconomic reasons concurrently faced by many other educational institutes contributing to this kind of negativity in the admission numbers. This negativity had spread like an epidemic in the minds of all including the office staff, teachers and students. Even some members who have been consistently associated with the profession and professional activities of the Chapter got little discouraged and demotivated.
In July 2015 the Chairman of the Managing Committee (2015-16) and Senior Member of Aurangabad Chapter invited me to join the activities of the Chapter. I was definitely delighted when I got the opportunity to contribute as Chairman Training & Education of the Aurangabad Chapter. But the excitement couldn’t last long as I started understanding what was happening and what we needed to make happen.
The negativity in the surroundings had spread as an airborne virus and was very difficult to counter and fumigate the environment. The challenges were many and the opportunities too less. But we decided to work on all the dimensions and create a successful turnaround. We decided to fight and try and bring back those good old days of the Chapter. The challenges and the areas where we worked simultaneously, which are predominantly found commonly in any Education Institute are as follows
The Chapter Office Staff: The staff of the Chapter is the backbone for achieving success in the operations like any other education institute. There was a strong fear in their minds about the continuation of the Chapter and was increasing day by day that in near future the Chapter would surely get closed down. The amount of demotivation was increasing the level of frustration in their minds holding them back for going all out to try and retrieve the lost glory of the chapter, as if they were counting down the last days.
We decided to work on the mindset of the staff members and build a team spirit once again and bring back the positivity in their minds to come together as a strong team and fight all odds to turn the tables. The team being good, it took very little time to ignite them for start firing. We immediately got convincing assurance from them that they would fully stretch out themselves and run an extra mile in our endeavor of bringing back the lost glory of the chapter. With a strong committed & enthusiastic team we went all out firing all cylinders to rise back in no time to our path for progress. Growth was obviously at that time immediate concern and had to work out strategies for all stakeholders to ensure that we achieve what we wanted.
The Students: The number of students (on roll registrations) was going down year after year since 2011 till 2015 and the reasons had to be identified and countered. The students who had taken admissions in these years were struggling and finding it very difficult to clear through the examinations and thereby creating a fear in the minds of the prospective students to come into the system as new registrations and also creating a word of mouth about the difficulty in getting into this professional course.
The local coaching classes had by this time started having tie-ups with local colleges and started servicing CPT & CS Foundation students thereby attracting young minds by telling that CMA is difficult and valuable time would be lost if the students opt for CMA; in fact the real reason was different i.e. these coaching classes are denied business value in CMA course as ours is the only institute which provides coaching in the same fees paid for the registration as compared to other professional courses. The local students are denied information and are kept in dark about CMA as a career option and are pulled into CPT and CS Foundation by ignorance.
There are two main types of institutes in the Education Industry i.e. Teaching Institutes and Coaching Institutes and unfortunately both had jointly wedged a war against CMA and that is why it was all the more difficult to bring in Fresh Blood in our CMA program as the blood already in circulation in the system was getting contaminated and was losing on the flowing speed & pressure. These really called for a very careful and critical plan for growth. We decided to face it and go for it. We targeted initially outstation colleges and set up good relations with their Principals, Vice-Principals, HODs and all teaching members of those colleges. We developed a personal relation & rapport with them. We started inviting them for all programs of the chapter as well as kept them informed about the happenings of the chapter. We were determined to keep ourselves connected with them for all possible opportunities because we firmly believed in the good old saying “out of sight is out of mind” and for us their recognition of our existence was very important for them to recommend the course to our students.
Slowly we started noticing the negativity in the minds of academia melting down and they started encouraging students to join CMA course. The opinion of local Academia is always more important in students decision making process. We ensured presence of local college authorities in annual felicitation function of our chapter. The academia continuously supporting our chapter were duly recognized with lot of appreciation. This relationship paved our way into college premises for conducting Career Counselling Programs (CCP) as per our requirements. With our relations we insisted on having presence of Principal and VP/ HOD along with other teachers during these CCP as their presence increases the significance of CMA course in the minds of students. We developed SOPs for the CCP as well as all other chapter programs as bare minimum mandatory compliances to be ensured to en-cash all positive and favorable spin-offs of these activities. Despite our willingness to approach colleges and conduct CCP, unfortunately there are only few months in the academic calendar of the colleges which can accommodate some scope and space for conducting CCP and we hardly missed these opportunities. In all in these two years we conducted 24 CCP out of which 5 were in-house at Chapter office, 7 in local Aurangabad colleges and institutes and 12 outside Aurangabad in nearby prominent feeder grounds. We tried to showcase success stories from these rural colleges of Marathwada who have successfully completed the CMA course and are now doing very well in their respective careers. While our institute from the head office level joins us in welcoming the attendees of these CCP through SMS we filtered the attendees on the basis of their interest and eagerness as Hot/Warm/Cold prospects and tried promoting faster conversion for Hot Prospect and thereby a motivation for warm prospect and so on.
However with all these efforts one thing was not slipping out of our minds that unless we have local students also registering in the course we won’t be able to increase the numbers as there is always a difference between paying capacity of these two backgrounds. We had to also keep in mind for financial implications and budgeting part of the whole exercise that we have to slowly try and bring students paying more fees i.e. the graduate students for intermediate admissions. The most important fear in the minds of the students was found to be ‘how will I be able to complete the studies and in how much period’. Naturally we had to ensure a very strong academic support to the students.
We started reworking on our strategies and formulated new academic process as well as a very strong academic monitoring mechanism. We very firmly believe that for any ACADEMIC INSTITUTE the only MARKETING PROCESS is the CORE ACADEMIC PROCESS of the institute so we strengthened the academic process.
The Teaching & Learning Process: The entire success of any education institute is measured by the excellence in academic process so keeping the same in mind we reengineered the entire teaching & learning process and tried to improve the satisfaction quotient and the result of the process. The student satisfaction is very important for generating the positivity about the course in the markets and thereby diluting the negativity present in the minds of all the stakeholders. The faculty members were very neatly oriented about the task & their responsibility by way of an opening meeting before every academic session and then were reviewed every month for the overall process and the progress therein.
We were no exception for the basic challenges which are normally found across the length & breadth of the entire education industry and had to face them as well, viz Low confidence due to vernacular medium background, omission of mathematics in the junior college level, poor knowledge about the basic fundamental concepts in subjects like Accounts and Economics and due to language problem fear about handling law as a new subject. However, to overcome these we started categorizing students on various parameters and made aware the faculty members about the same and expected the faculty members to support them on the basis and carry out subsequent evaluation of the learners on the same parameters. We introduced class tests and conducted very regularly to assess the overall progress of the learning process and effectiveness of the teaching mechanism adopted. Based on needs for overall performance improvement the faculty members were advised to alter the teaching process.
All these processes were conducted with an active involvement of students which increased their confidence levels and developed a sense of belongingness towards chapter and the people involved. This overall satisfaction of the students led to a very positive feedback in the markets and they referred their friends and others to get into the CMA course. We ensured to complete the syllabi of all subjects well within defined time lines and allowed faculty members to conduct revisionary and doubt solving sessions for the benefit of the students of the chapter. During the academic sessions we introduced effective tools like
(a) Faculty Data Form,
(b) Faculty Declaration Form,
(c) Sessions Plan and
(d) Course Handout (attached as Annexures a to d).
These tools made it mandatory for all faculty members to prepare for their sessions well in advance and a proper controlling mechanism got enabled. A new system with the help of advanced technology and tools of communication in the form of whatsapp groups was formed wherein every day reports by all stakeholders are posted which automatically get circulated to all the group members and transparency is maintained.
The opportunity to showcase the academic process to all the aspiring young minds was never missed out and the academic process was very widely showcased during all CCP at various locations for reducing the fear in the minds of the admission seekers and encouraging them by increasing their confidence to get into CMA course.
As we were in the pursuit of increasing the performance as outcome of the process after defining the process requirements did not hesitate to take tough calls on changing the faculty members whenever warranted if they were falling short in complying with the process expectations. New fresh blood was enthused into the system at all levels i.e. students as well as faculty off course under the watchful and grooming guidance of all experienced and veterans.
The Members: As mentioned above unless the members, the real Brand Ambassadors of the profession join hands in representing the chapter and the profession proudly & proactively the true branding can never take place. Keeping this in mind as per the availability of the various members we tried to facilitate an interaction in the classroom with the students to increase the motivational levels of the students. Members were requested to make themselves available for CCP and for various other events wherein the visibility of the profession would be increased by their presence and their networking.
The CEP sessions conducted by various members were also en-cashed as a very strong branding tool and for showcasing the professional excellence. We started inviting academia from all the colleges and the educational industry as well as people from Marathwada industries. The acceptance and the acknowledgement in the form of presence of these outside invitees was also a solid proof of recognition of Chapter contribution to professional skills development and rendering of social responsibility for continuous knowledge and skills development allied with the profession.
All these collectively contributed to the growth and created a scope for further growth and progress which got captured in the increased registrations in terms of admissions i.e. total 207 admissions in the July 2017 admission window; almost equal to the total number of admissions of what we achieved in two admission windows of July 2016 & January 2017, i.e. 208 admissions.
|Session wise Admission details from July -2011 to July 2017|
|January Admissions||Total||Grant Total|
Above July admissions figures presented in Graph Form
The total number of students passing also started increasing since 2015 and 2016 after the new process was introduced. The overall percentages improved because the intake had reduced in the earlier years and the overall satisfaction levels increased due to the modified academic process.
All these required a continuous focus, retention of interest of all stakeholders and a consistent & clear communication to all stakeholders to ensure smooth turnaround from a downward slope and heading towards an upward rising promising take off stage .It gives us confidence that our efforts are in right directions !!
One memorable Incidence during CCP at Nilanga* in Maharashtra College:
After we finished our CCP & were about to leave from Principal’s office, the Principal offered us some honorarium which we very politely refused to accept. The Principal suggested that we can take some amount at least for our transportation to & fro from Aurangabad. We once again very humbly refused to accept that also. Then what he did was something unimaginable and never thought of. He took us to the class room again and declared in the entire classroom that the college will sponsor two merit students who take admission in CMA course. In all 10 students have taken admission from Maharashtra College of Nilanga and out of that top two merit students have been sponsored by the college.
Is it not something really very unbelievable and interesting!
(* Nilanga a small town, is 314 kms away from Aurangabad in the border of Maharashtra)