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Updated: September 24, 2012 16:47 IST

An inclusive academic culture

Nagesh Prabhu
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JNU Vice-Chancellor Suhir K. Sopory. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu JNU Vice-Chancellor Suhir K. Sopory. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

At JNU, the teacher-student ratio is good and the instruction mode encourages creativity

The country’s premier university – Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi — is drawing students from every nook and corner of the country and from every group and stratum of society. To make sure that it maintains its all-India character, it conducts annual admission tests simultaneously in more than 50 cities spread across the country.

JNU, established in 1969, is spread over 1,000 acres and has 7,500 plus students pursuing courses from undergraduate to Ph.D. It has 17 hostels for boys and girls and one complex for providing accommodation for married students.

Admissions

JNU usually invites applications for the national-level entrance examinations to be held in May for admissions to various undergraduate courses in various languages, as well as postgraduate, M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes offered at four centres and 10 schools such as School of International Studies, Scholl of Social Sciences, School of Life Sciences, and School of Physical Sciences.

In an interview to The Hindu EducationPlus, JNU Vice-Chancellor Sudhir K. Sopory, who was recently in Bangalore, spoke on various issues with regard to the university.

JNU, one of the top-ranking universities in the country, has been successful in sustaining its unique academic culture. Every year, new facilities are introduced to enrich the student experience on the campus, he said.

The university received a cumulative credit point average of 3.91 and bagged ‘A’ grade certificate (Very Good) from NAAC.

Prof. Sopory said the NAAC committee spent a few days on the campus and inspected all centres and assessed the quality of infrastructure available.

Though there was an argument for and against accreditation, he said “the Academic Council of the University has decided to go for accreditation”. “Though we do not care much about the ranking, we felt that it is good that somebody else reviews our academic performance,” Prof. Sopory said.

The university has been following an inclusive policy in admission of students as well in recruitment. The gender ratio in all post-graduation courses is 1:1. The excellent teacher-student ratio at 1:10, a mode of instruction which encouraged students to explore their own creativity instead of reproducing received knowledge, and an exclusively internal evaluation were new experiments on the Indian academic landscape; these have stood the test of time, he pointed out.

Scholarships

A number of Merit-cum-Means scholarships are available for deserving and meritorious students whose parent’s/guardian’s income does not exceed Rs. 1 lakh a year or as may be laid down from time to time.

The payment of scholarships will be governed by the rules in force.

A limited number of Ford Foundation Scholarships are available for students of the M.A. programme of the School of International Studies. The scholarships will be awarded purely on merit subject to the provision that at least half of them will go to female students.

Some of the States have instituted at the School of International Studies one or two fellowships for scholars coming from their respective States. Some State Governments have also provided contingency grants for candidates undertaking research.

The Vice-Chancellor said fellowships will be given only to those candidates who qualify in the national-level test conducted by the University Grants Commission/CSIR and other similar test for award of Junior Research Fellowship as per the norms of the relevant organisation.

In addition, about 15 endowments (scholarships) are also available to students pursuing studies in various centres of the university. Rajiv Gandhi scholarships are available for SC/ST students.

New initiatives

The university recently started a Linguistic Empowerment Cell to help students to communicate fluently in English. The Cell helps those who are linguistically marginalised and come from different regions, remote areas of the country, with little or no exposure to English language in their day-to-day lives, Prof. Sopory said.

With the funding from the UGC, JNU has to set up a trans-disciplinary research cluster for providing opportunity for students to undertake research projects inter-disciplinary in nature. The cluster, said Prof. Sopory, is to use the research of the brightest minds of science as well as humanities departments to try and address issues ranging from climate change to public health.

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