BHUBANESWAR: Full autonomy to Utkal University by the University Grants Commission (UGC) earlier this week has opened a window of opportunities for the institution as well as the students. Plans are in the pipeline to open new skill development courses, sign academic collaborations.The autonomy comes at a time when the university is preparing to open rural campus at Chandikhole. Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University, Soumendra Mohan Patnaik said they can now begin new courses in the second campus, which would get operational in the 2018-19 academic session, without waiting for the UGC nod.
Four new courses will be opened in the campus - teacher training courses (B.Ed and M.Ed), MA in Public Health and MBA in Rural Management, he informed. “We can enrol students for the new courses that can be ratified by the UGC later. In fact, the autonomy has accelerated the process of opening the new campus and courses,” he said. Having maintained high academic standards, the university was granted autonomy along with 61 other prestigious institutions of higher education across the country. It had secured an A+ grade by scoring 3.53 CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) during assessment by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in 2016. Apparently, Utkal University is the only higher education institution in the State with an A+ NAAC grade and Category 1 status by the UGC. The status is given to universities that have a NAAC score of 3.5 or above.
Following the autonomy, the university plans to recruit 54 new faculty members. Patnaik said the new status means that international academic collaboration will become free of bureaucratic hassles from now on. Earlier, the university required permissions from the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Human Resources Development to enter into collaborations with foreign universities. Last month, Utkal University was selected as a lead university by Department of Science & Technology of the Centre to enter into academic collaboration with seven national institutions – IIT-Bhubaneswar, AIIMS-Bhubaneswar, NISER, RMRC, Institute of Physics, Institute of Mines and Minerals Technology and Institute of Life Sciences – for research.
Financially, funds flow to the university will be regularised. “While funding from Central Government and international agencies for Utkal always depended on its nationwide ranking, the Category 1 status has come as boon for the varsity as it will ensure timely and regular flow of funds,” the VC said. Although autonomy has empowered the university to decide on its recruitment, admission, courses and fee structures, it will continue to remain under UGC supervision as far as quality of education is concerned.
Meanwhile, the university on Friday began its platinum jubilee celebrations with a lecture on ‘Changing Political and Media Cultures in Millenial India’ by Prof Mark Alien Peterson of Miami University.