New Odisha govt reignites demand for upgradation of Sambalpur university

As per ASET members, Sambalpur university, set up in 1967, has been a cornerstone of education in the state, particularly in western Odisha region.
A view of the Sambalpur University in Sambalpur.
A view of the Sambalpur University in Sambalpur.File Photo | Express

SAMBALPUR: Even as a government led by BJP has assumed charge in the state, the demand to upgrade Sambalpur university into a Central university has yet again taken centre stage.

The Association of Students, Employees, and Teachers (ASET), which has been advocating for the change for over two decades, is planning to intensify its efforts and press the new government to fulfil of its demand. For more than 20 years, ASET has consistently called for Sambalpur university to be granted Central University status.

In 2004, the state government had recognised the demand and recommended the Union government to consider it. Even as the recommendation was formalised through an official letter, the proposal was stalled and did not progress further. Chairman of ASET and former MP, Bhawani Hota said, “In August last year, when Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had visited the university to attend a programme on National Education Policy, he had promised to convert Sambalpur university into a research university. We had met him earlier this year with a proposal to convert the varsity into Central university. However, it is unfortunate he has not been able to take any concrete steps in this regard. We will hold a meeting soon to discuss our future course of action.

As per ASET members, Sambalpur university, set up in 1967, has been a cornerstone of education in the state, particularly in western Odisha region. Its contribution extends beyond academics, as the university has played a pivotal role in the cultural resurgence of the area. ASET further claimed despite facing challenges such as shortage of teaching and non-teaching staff besides infrastructure, the university has received decent NAAC ranking and has carved a niche for itself in the field of research. Several students of the university are now placed in high positions in academics, bureaucracy, and in other spheres. The university has also established a distinct reputation in sports.

The Central university status would free the varsity from funds crunch and pave way for conduct of more research. Similarly, the upgradation, will lead to expansion of infrastructure of the varsity, as there is adequate space for development of several facilities on the 670 acre campus. The students of this region will also get the opportunity to pursue their studies in a Central university, Hota added.

Coordinator of ASET, Bhabani Prasad Singh said, “A letter was submitted to union minister Pradhan in February this year. Later, the chairman along with a few members had moved principal secretary to PM, PK Mishra. The university fulfils all criteria to become a Central university. We hope the new government in the state would consider the proposal.”

Reportedly, the Central university status was also a poll promise made by the BJP during its campaigning. As the new government settles in, all eyes are on Pradhan and the BJP leadership on how they respond to this renewed call for change.

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