Taking charge of BS Abdur Rahman University, Chennai, in February, vice-chancellor JAK Tareen is pleased as a peach. “Though we are just three years old as a university, for 25 years we have proved our mettle as a top-notch engineering college in Tamil Nadu,” starts off Tareen as he settles for a brief chat with edex. Philanthrophic nature of the university and the enormous focus on research are some of the reasons that lured Tareen to BS from Pondicherry Central University, where he held a similar post. The Padma Shri awardee has also worked with Kashmir University and was an active member of University Grants Commission (UGC).
His plans for BS aren’t much different from his earlier assignments, he informs us. He talks about some of the issues that are plaguing Indian varsities that he would like to address. “All Indian universities need to improve their student strength and their pan Indian character — in our intoxication of regionalism, we have made our universities so local. Master’s and professional courses are taught in vernacular languages! On the contrary, western universities excel in diversity and this makes them truly innovative and global,” he explains his stance.
The VC is also pained that our higher education system is disintegrated as such — colleges teach UG and PG programmes and university is the place for only pursuing master’s and PhD courses. “This again is unique to our country with isolated degree colleges with poor learning environment as compared to university resources, ambience and facilities. University education should begin in an university campus, which is true in every advanced country”, he explains.
Our research potential has come in for much flak and Tareen is quick to point out what’s ailing us on this front. “Research of a university receives a boost through its faculty mostly. We need to create state-of-the-art facilities and also ensure academic freedom. Compartmentalisation and academic hoarding is also adding to the woes.”
Call for more rapport
Lack of coordination and an organic connectivity between Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), UGC and universities, is another issue he delves upon. “The relationship that exists now is only to the extent of sanctioning and transfer of funds, utilisation and annual reports. All VCs enter and walk out at the end of a term; performers and non-performers all stand in one line with no score card,” he says. He offers suggestions too. “Private and deemed universities can do a lot if they create their consortium and set standards of self appraisal and network for creating institutions of excellence, based on resources sharing for research.”
Tareen also roots for entry of foreign players in the education field. “Foreign universities should be allowed to join their Indian counterparts to jointly offer programmes and research. It will bring in fresh air and overseas faculty into the arena. Private universities should be permitted to do so without governmental interference,” he signs off.