New Delhi: Four years after the government revamped its central university system by bringing in several such new centres of higher learning to provide access with quality, there is little to show in outcomes and a concerned government is set to review its growth strategy.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will review the bottlenecks in infrastructure, research, curricula and teachers crunch on Tuesday, according to officials in the human resource development ministry and central universities.
“Both the high offices of Indian government may put in place a mechanism to improve their interface with the central universities,” said an official of the HRD ministry, who declined to be named. “The quality of our current education system leaves much to be desired. During the 12th Plan (2012-17), the focus is on quality, the review meeting will dwell on it in detail.”
There are 42 central universities in India, including 16 set up in 2009-10. All the new universities have poor infrastructure and don’t have permanent campuses, the curricula is not contemporary and attracting the faculty is a challenge. As a result, they are not attracting sufficient number of students. Most of the new universities don’t even have 1,000 students each and the faculty shortage is as high as 30-50%, official data show.
“None of the universities in India right now are in top 200 list of best universities in the world and this is a worrying point. The universities need to change their approach and become contemporary, from just learning to research and be industry-ready,” said Abdul Wahid, vice-chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir.
As per the Times Higher Education Rankings 2012-13, published from the UK, the top ranked Indian institutions are IIT Kharagpur (234), IIT Bombay (258) and IIT Roorkee (267). The top ranked institutions as per the Quacquarelli Symonds System 2012 were IIT Delhi (212), IIT Bombay (227) and IIT Kanpur (278).
“Apart from the fact that none of the Indian institutions ranked are in the top 200, interestingly, no university finds a place in these rankings,” according to an HRD ministry document. “In such a structure, quality enhancement can only be brought about by reducing the burden at the university level and giving greater autonomy and accountability.”
Somnath Dasgupta, vice-chancellor of Assam University said the President is keen on improving interaction with universities. “Extending the reach of central universities is part of the agenda. Research and how to build society through it, too, will be discussed,” he said.
Dasgupta said central universities in northeastern states have a problem of access and virtual learning in this context needs attention.
Wahid said that for new universities, operating from rented buildings is a key bottleneck and with both Singh and Mukherjee “taking stock of the situation, we can expect a better outcome”. He said good information technology infrastructure, laboratory, library and handholding to make curricula relevant to the market are issues that need to be given attention and will be discussed in the meeting.