Hanil Das Westford for web
Hanil Das

Q: Please share a brief history of Westford University College and its value offerings.

Westford University College (WUC) is the next-generation academic institute. It has been continuously reimagining the delivery of higher education, providing a world-class business education to aspiring students across all levels – starting from L3 foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate, to doctoral programmes.

Westford was founded by 4 ex-bankers who took a keen interest in venturing into the educational sector: Firoz Thairinil, who is the Founder, and three Co-Founders, Mashrook Ali, Samras Mayimi, and myself. Our vision back then was simple and clear - to offer affordable and quality international education for the working executives and regular students. The journey of Westford has been admirable, as we have grown over the years from a small management institute to delivering programmes to more than 130 countries across the globe, with offices in the US, UK, France, Ireland, South Africa and India.

Q: As a corporate leader, how much in your view has the education sector changed in these last two years, and how has your brand evolved to stay in step?

The education sector has seen drastic changes in the last couple of years. Traditional education was being challenged and a transformation was much overdue. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic the future arrived abruptly and without invitation.

Our strength was investing in online delivery way ahead of time. While many Institutions are now shifting their learning strategies to online mode, Westford University College (WUC) takes pride in demonstrating excellence in imparting online education with high-quality curriculum and cutting-edge technology-oriented infrastructure for 10 years now. The college has left no stone unturned in making an immediate and seamless transition from onsite to online classes. The leadership team and faculty members had a brainstorming session to come up with plans to make classes equally interesting, interactive, and engaging. This was made possible with the unique experience in virtual learning, led with well-designed and modern online platforms such as Electa, e-meetings and webinars. All this helped us stay true to our promise of quality delivery without ever disrupting any class.

As educators we believe just a classroom education is never enough to make true leaders, students must be exposed to industry experts and c- suite leaders. Hence, WeConnect with business leaders had a virtual twist to it. We had some of the top business leaders from the top companies of the world speaking at our webinar platform, providing an experience and exposure to our students like no other.

Westford University College

Q: Provide a bird’s eye perspective on how you see your sector evolving over the next decade and the part your organisation will play in this evolution?

The future is the integration between technology and education. We at Westford are constantly rethinking and reimagining how we can enhance the quality of delivering knowledge. For this, we must keep an eye on evolving trends and adaptability of it to education. Ever since the world has got the taste of digital learning, we see they need more of it. It was a transformational experience for students to have access to education no matter what part of the world they are in. Digital Technology can improve access to education. Hence a lot of players are venturing into EduTech. This sector will grow by 19% in the next decade, students are shifting towards online learning.

Westford has been a pioneer in the online delivery sector much ahead of time, and in this revolution we will only move forward. We have students from over 125 countries making it a truly a global classroom. With the support of the technology, we aim to nurture and develop students from around the world.

The online programme has been phenomenally successful, with high rates of retention and satisfaction. Students tell us they find great value in the educational experience. There are many reasons for that. But when faculty and staff members gather to talk about what is working, one theme that arises over and over is the level of engagement even in an online class.

Q: What have your major contributions been to the growth of your brand?

Over the years Westford has built its reputation on delivering quality and supporting students in their learning journey. Our students are our biggest brand! All our contribution towards brand growth has been by enhancing the learning experience of our students.

Westford has an international status for delivering excellence. Westford prides in having a strong student – faculty relationship. It nurtures an environment of lifelong learning, teaching, research, and discovery. We build our brand by aiming to make our students corporate ready. To accomplish these goals, we at Westford have various initiatives to upskill the students’ performances such as WeConnect with business leaders, WeTalk, Mentorship program, entrepreneurial programs, postgraduate diploma in career development and business etiquettes, Chartered Management Institute (CMI) program and many more to bridge the industry – academia gap and prepare the students for the future workplace.

Q: How critical is innovation to an educational institute and how much of a role does it play in the success of your organisation?

We embrace an innovative approach to our delivery methodologies, refine our pedagogy and enhance the instructional design in our programs to suit the needs of the market and the learners. We are deeply invested in cutting edge AI and Blockchain applications to our systems and technologies to enhance the learning experience and enrich our student journey.

Q: How has the past year been for you at Westford? What has been your major accomplishments?

We had a great year at Westford, it has been challenging and gratifying. This year we had over 2000 students enrolled, 1,000 of which were for MBA programmes and 600 of which were for bachelor’s degrees in disciplines including computing, fashion, psychology, and sports business. And we have over 200 DBA candidates from across different industries and professional backgrounds. We also had our biggest graduation ceremony yet, 1000 plus students graduated from the class of 2021, with a 98.7 per cent success rate. The graduates included bachelor’s, master’s, M.Phils. and professional qualifications.

Through our new partnerships, we are introducing new programs like, data analytics, cyber security and artificial intelligence. To support the growth of our faculty, we partnered with AdvanceHE to award fellowships and promote excellence in higher education. To accommodate the growing students and staffs at Wetsford, we have expanded our campus with indoor sports facilities and classrooms designed for better engagement.

We received the Education Provider of the Year- 2021 in Logistics and Supply Chain Management Award and the Most Innovative Business Education Provider - MENA by Global Brands Awards. The BTEC International Institution of the Year – gave us the Silver award in recognition of our commitment to quality. We have also been recognised as Great Place to Work for Millennials, Great Place to Work for Women in the GCC, and 24th Great Place to Work in Asia.