With Anna University's plans to fund research fellowships on a big scale, the country may see more quality teachers with a research background in the future.

Anna University, the premier technical university in Tamil Nadu, is all set to scale greater heights in research in the coming years. After attending a meeting on research promotion with Department of Science and Technology (DST) officials in New Delhi, Prof. V. Murugesan, director, Centre for Research, AU, said the Centre has plans to double the number of Ph.Ds in the country.

At present, the University Grants Commission (UGC) recognised-universities numbering over 350 in the country are awarding about 10,000 doctoral degrees annually, with 50 per cent from science, engineering and technological disciplines. Foreseeing a dearth of quality teachers with research background in the next five to ten years, the Centre is funding research fellowships. To further research, the Centre has announced Inspire fellowships for five years to top-ranked students through DST. “Anna University has 86 master's programmes. All first rank holders are eligible for the doctoral fellowships,” says Prof. Murugesan. Students need not apply, write tests or face interviews. A statement from the Controller of Examinations that the student was ranked first in his/her discipline is enough. The student can straight away join a Ph.D programme. Similarly, the top rankers in the nine M.E. courses offered in the university are also eligible for pursuing Ph.D. The fellowship will cover Rs. 15,000 for the first three years and Rs. 20,000 for the next two years. UGC has also a scheme to promote research wherein it grants 10 fellowships for departments doing extremely well.

AU's Chemistry department already has 10 fellowships and the next 10 have been sanctioned, he says. Apart from that Central agencies like ISRO are offering fellowships.

On its own, AU has instituted Anna Centenary Fellowships for 45 Ph.D students from the coming academic year with a grant of Rs. 12,000 for a student per year and a contingency fund of Rs. 25,000 to cover research-related expenses, says Prof. Mannar Jawahar, AU vice-chancellor. In three years, there will be 135 Ph.D scholars in the campus funded by the AU itself.

The university is producing roughly three per cent of the Ph.Ds awarded in the country every year. With focus on research in interesting and thrust areas like network security, wireless network, mobile networking, digital image processing, biotechnology and nanotechnology, AU will lead by example, says Prof. Murugesan.

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