Perhaps the most significant of all reforms in the Higher Education sector in the State in 2012 was the merger of Anna Universities of Technology (AUT) with the parent University in Chennai. While the move was looked to have had political undertones as it reversed the decision made in the previous DMK regime, more important were the sound administrative reasons.
The DMK, while creating the five AUTs during its regime, argued that it would lead to better functioning by obtaining the fruits of decentralisation. More universities meant that more investment in research and an improvement in quality of technical education, it argued.
The AUT, in the years that they existed, hardly fulfilled any of these goals. If anything could be remarked about these institution, it was that they were quite mediocre and failed to invoke any interest among the students, who still preferred stand-alone, reputed engineering colleges for them. This was reflected in the engineering counselling this year where apart from the AUT in Tiruchy, none of the other four had any patronage in the first five days.
This being the case, the move by the AIADMK government to merge the universities with the one in Chennai and turn the Anna University into an affiliating one again was much appreciated. The process that led to the merger on August 1 was also thorough, with a committee headed by IAS office Sheela Balakrishnan laying out a road map for the smooth merging process.
The committee considered the status of the students, teaching and non-teaching staff of the five AUTs and the assets of the institutes while preparing the report.
To ensure that administration was not hampered by the merger, zonal offices were created to monitor affiliated colleges in Coimbatore, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tiruchy.
Four months since the merger, it could now be safely considered a success given the fact that very little trouble was encountered in the process.