When the heads of as many as 40 varsities and premier institutes of the country gather for a brainstorming session, a lot is expected to happen. And, at a seminar organised as a curtain raiser to the National Education Summit 2014 by the state government, academicians, authorities and heads of universities debated and discussed issues plaguing the academic system.
Topic of discussion was re-designing the structure of universities to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. And, those present did not miss the opportunity to dig up various problems staring at academia. The event, inaugurated by state education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama at Gujarat Technological University (GTU) on Wednesday, was also graced by technical education commissioner Jayanti Ravi and GTU vice chancellor Akshai Aggarwal among others.
While Chudasama emphasised that academicians and V-Cs should come up with a vision for the betterment of education at the end of the two-day seminar, Aggarwal categorically stated that lack of autonomy was one of the biggest concerns. And, a majority of the V-Cs promptly agreed. In fact, some of the main concerns included political interference, political appointments and lack of autonomy.
Interacting with the media on the sidelines of the event, Pune University V-C Wasudeo Namdeo Gade said autonomy was one thing that could help universities tide over all problems. “Even if universities want to create one additional post, they have to wait for a nod from the state government. And, by the time we get the approval, requirement would have grown. Universities do not have the power to take decisions on their own and this becomes a hurdle,” he said, adding that varsities should be given autonomy, albeit in a manner that does not take education beyond the reach of the middle, salaried and poor classes.
Also expressing concern over political appointments and political interference, ADN Bajpai, the V-C of Himachal Pradesh University, said: “And, the political appointment is such that it does not add value to the university’s growth of the university.”
Some of the other points discussed included the need to have more centres of excellence and also rope in services industries experts to give students exposure to practical learning. Aggarwal also suggested starting a programme where CEOs would mentor students.