NEW DELHI: The JNU has won the Visitor's Award for being the best university in the country because of its "unrelenting pursuit of academic excellence", President Pranab Mukherjee today said while conferring the honour.
The JNU has been in the news through the last year for all the wrong reasons including issues like "anti-national" slogans being raised on the campus, missing student Najeeb Ahmed, and the ideological turf-war among Left and Right-wing students' groups.
Mukherjee, who is the Visitor for central universities, today conferred the award on the JNU for being the best university at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Scientists from the Central University of Himachal Pradesh, Banaras Hindu University and Tezpur University were also given awards in the innovation and research categories.
"JNU has been adjudged the best university for its unrelenting pursuit of academic excellence," he said.
The President said the JNU has shown "outstanding" performance in all key parameters like quality of students and faculty, training of faculty, citations, publications, research projects, foreign collaborations, seminars and innovation exhibitions.
"I urge upon the university to continue the good work," he said.
The President said the honours conferred lend due credence to awardees' single-minded devotion and painstaking work in the pursuit of excellence.
"The recognition should, on the one hand, inspire them to higher levels of performance, and on the other, spur researchers and scientists in the central university system to explore wider domains of human understanding," he said.
He said many new central universities may not be in the reckoning for top honours immediately but they must start participating in the rankings seriously.
"This would provide them a framework for academic management along global best practices. The new universities have to take off successfully, overcoming the nascent-stage hurdles. A robust management focused on institution-building is the key," he said.
Mukherjee asked researchers to align their subjects with developmental challenges of the country.
"The best minds in our universities should apply themselves to work out solutions in areas like sanitation, urban transportation, sewage disposal, clean river systems, healthcare and drought-resistant farming," he said.
On the debate over quality of higher education being compromised due to vast expansion and the counter view that spread is needed to meet the demands of a growing population, Mukherjee said, he does not see "any dichotomy" between greater access and better quality or between higher equity and superior standards.
"It is entirely possible for the attributes of quantity and quality to move in the same direction at the same time," the President said.