HYDERABAD: Creativity and putting ideas into practice are integral to the ten departments at Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU) in Hyderabad which has about 2,500 students studying in those departments. But for it to happen, there should be laboratories where students can get hands on experience on how things work and get a chance to test their ideas for practicality.
However, thanks to a government that has not shown any keen interest in improving higher education in the State, JNAFAU's growth is stunted. This is the tenth year since the university came into existence in 2008, after the division of erstwhile Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) into four universities - JNTU-Hyderabad, JNTU-Kakinada, JNTU-Ananthapur and JNAFAU.
Speaking to Express, the university's Vice-Chancellor and architecture professor Kavita Daryani Rao gave examples of various laboratories that the university is keen on developing for providing better exposure to students and developing their skills, but unfortunately the university lacks the physical space, financial resources and manpower to make that happen.
University's small campus encroached by TSCHE
Giving an example, prof Rao said that the university has been planning to develop a plumbing lab for the students of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) where the students can understand various aspects of plumbing and fluid mechanics at play. For this, a well known sanitary ware company has even come forward to fund the lab but university is finding it difficult to demarcate enough space in its small campus. Same is the hurdle in the establishment of a visual graphics lab for applied arts department and audio visual lab for the photography department, apart from low financial resources.
About 4.5 acres of land on which JNAFAU campus is located at Masab Tank was granted by the Nizam in 1940. While the university has not received any additional land from the State government for its expansion, Telangana State Council for Higher Education(TSCHE) has occupied a chunk of the small campus to establish its own office. Besides this, a portion of one building in the campus has been occupied by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
Prof Rao said that she has written to the TSCHE to vacate the building several times but to no avail, whereas the AICTE has agreed to vacate, but has not done it yet.
Lack of govt support hurdle for innovative ideas at incubation centre
TSCHE officials, ministers and other bureaucrats of Telangana government, have on many occasions spoken about starting an incubation centre at five universities in Telangana, including at JNAFAU. However, the State government has not bothered to provide any kind of support to university to make the centre operational.
Sharing three ideas for the incubator, Prof Rao shared, "As the government is planning to build many affordable houses for BPL families, we plan to initiate a startup that can develop foldable multi-utility furniture that can prove of great use in these small dwelling units."
"Another plan is of promoting 'affordable art'. Many people like to possess art works like paintings or sculptures but find it pricey for procuring original works. However, at our university, the students of fine arts come out with some amazing art works which can be sold at affordable cost to the public and will also give exposure to students. We also plan to provide customised designing of rainwater harvesting solutions," she added.
However, it becomes next to impossible for all these plans to fructify, at least the way university wants to execute them because the university does not have enough space in its campus to establish the incubator and also the financial resources to provide essential infrastructure for the startups, informed Prof Rao.
No development grant in budget for JNAFAU
Telangana government in its budget this year has not provided a single rupee as development grant for JNAFAU, like it has been the case last year and the year before that. The government just provides for the payment of salaries and the university is majorly dependent on the money it receives as tuition fees from students, to develop any infrastructure. Due to lack of enough teachers at the university, and NAAC recognition the university cannot even get any financial grants from the Central government funding agencies.
Niche departments running show with contract teachers
JNAFAU is facing severe faculty crunch not just because of lack of recruitment but also because five of the ten departments in the university have not been recognised by Telangana government.
As a result, these five departments - four in the School of Planning and Architecture(SPA) and one in the College of Fine Arts have no sanctioned strength of teachers. As a result, these five departments have been running the show since more than a decade with teachers recruited on contract basis. Moreover, of the 58 teaching positions sanctioned for JNAFAU by the State government, only 28 are filled and rest are lying vacant.
Four departments in SPA, which play an important role in the rapidly urbanising landscape of the country, are running on self-finance mode. They include interior design, digital technology, facilities and service planning and urban planning.
Lack of hostels
JNAFAU is a university without any hostels on campus. Students of the university, especially girls have been demanding hostels for many years now, but due to lack of funds and space, the university has been unable to fulfil their demands.
"There is one hostel that accommodates about 115 boys located at Abids. There is no hostel available for girls. There has been a demand for hostels from boys as well as girls but there is not enough space in the campus to construct hostels," Prof Rao said.
In fact, when deputy Chief Minister Mehmood Ali had visited the campus recently for inauguration of an art exhibition, a group of students handed him a representation demanding hostels.
University is not accredited
What can be expected of private colleges when the government university which provides them affiliation itself is not accredited. JNAFAU has not yet been accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) although it has been ten years since it came into existence. Prof Rao said that the university plans to go for accreditation this year. However, with half of its faculty positions vacant, a good rating cannot be expected from NAAC.