Despite many odds, the University of Calicut has made gains on the academic and administrative fronts during the last four years under the stewardship of its Vice-Chancellor Anwar Jahan Zuberi.

The University of Calicut is set to launch some prestigious and ambitious initiatives, even as its Vice-Chancellor Anwar Jahan Zuberi is preparing to pack her bags. She will complete her tenure on February 25.

Prof. Zuberi led the university to newer heights of academic excellence in the last four years. According to her, the last four years have been a time of unparalleled progress for the university. The university saw many academic, infrastructural, administrative and social initiatives. But seldom did the university succeed in cashing in on the good work it did.

When only two of the universities in Kerala went for NAAC re-accreditation in 2010, Calicut University got top score, pushing Mahatma Gandhi University to the second position.

In the Budget presented by Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac last week, the State government allotted Rs.15 crore for Calicut University — an increase of more than 50 per cent from last year. The university is all set to introduce a ‘school system' which will convert various disciplines and departments into cohesive units and bring them together under an academic roof. “This reorganisation is designed to facilitate inter-departmental cooperation, inter-disciplinary teaching and research, and the pooling of resources and expertise for greater academic effectiveness,” Prof. Zuberi said.

All teaching departments of the university are being restructured into 12 schools. They are the School of Bio-Sciences, the School of Business Studies, the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, the School of Information and Communication Studies, the School of Education, the School of Language and Literature, the School of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, the School of Performing Arts, the School of Legal Studies, the School of Social Sciences, the School of Engineering and Technology, and the School of Earth Sciences.

When the university introduced the new Departments of Nano-Technology, Environmental Studies, Computer Science and Political Science last year, it is going to open three new centres such as Inter-University Centre for Plant Biotechnology, Institute of Tribal Studies and Research, and Centre for Classical and Traditional Studies. “Some of them will be the first of its kind in the country,” said Prof. Zuberi.

Some of the new courses the university launched this year include Master of Hospital Administration, MA in functional Hindi, M.Sc. aquaculture (Lakshadweep), M.A. in Arabic (Lakshadweep), and M.Sc. in mathematics (Lakshadweep).

In the last four years, the university sanctioned 65 new affiliated colleges as well as 161 courses. It opened overseas centres in countries such as Kuwait, Ras-al-Khaima, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Above all , the university takes pride in the introduction of choice-based credit semester system (CCSS) in a time-bound manner. “It is sure to bring greater academic choice and curricular flexibility. Thus it will be an immense benefit for students,” Prof. Zuberi said.

First, the university introduced CCSS for postgraduate programmes in the university teaching departments in 2008. In the next year, the university introduced CCSS for undergraduate programmes in affiliated colleges. The following year saw the introduction of credit semester system (CSS) for postgraduate programmes in colleges.

And the coming academic year will see lakhs of private and distance education students taking CCSS — an achievement no other university in the country can boast of. According to the Vice-Chancellor, we got to wait for some more time to gauge the results of the academic reforms.

Even when the university filled almost all teaching vacancies by hiring 75 new teachers and promoting 50 teachers to higher posts, three new Chairs of study and research are being opened up on the campus. The Vaikkom Mohammed Basheer Chair is sponsored by the State government. The UGC sanctioned Moulana Abul Kalam Azad Chair. And the

C.H. Mohammed Koya Trust has sponsored the C.H. Mohammed Koya Chair for the Study of Developing Societies.

Prof. Zuberi was fortunate to sign the Ph.D. certificates of 613 scholars as well as to host some major international lectures and seminars. When Frontier Lecture series crossed 90, the recently introduced Erudite Scholars in Residence Programme did 10 in a row.

The Departments of History, Education, Philosophy and Chemistry have won the Special Assistance Programme (SAP) funding from the UGC for their research and developmental activities.

The Vice-Chancellor was happy that she could set up a Board for student grievances, providing a platform for students for redressal of their problems. Student grievance cells too have been set up in all departments.

The university will soon have a renovated guest house and a refurbished Senate House. The State government has sanctioned enough funds for it.

The opening of a large multi-purpose building at the entrance of the university on February 25 by Education Minister M.A. Baby will be yet another feather in the cap of the current administration. It will be a building exclusively meant for the well being and comfort of the students.

The ongoing modernisation of the Examination Wing has already had encouraging results for the university. Registration for examination has been made online. Distribution of hall-tickets is also online. Calicut has become the first university in the State to introduce bar-coded answer scripts, greatly reducing the delay in the publication of results.

“Examination results are now available to our students through SMS,” Prof. Zuberi said, explaining how the modern technology was used for the benefit of the students. Similarly, the university is making use of the mobile technology to inform employees of their monthly salary details.

The C.H. Mohammed Koya Library of the university has undergone a facelift in recent months. The library has an ICT centre for the visually-challenged. Among the other reforms the library underwent were the beginning of a digital resource centre with UGC funds, and introduction of a master catalogue system.

All teaching departments on the campus have smart classrooms with laptops, projectors, large LED screens and teacher interface. The University Botanical Garden has grown to newer fames in recent years, especially with the setting up of a Ginger Villa and Poly House.

The university campus saw Wi-Max communication even before BSNL introduced it in Kerala. “Extensive digitization of palm leaf manuscripts collected in the Thunchan Manuscript Repository is under way with the expertise of Keltron,” Prof. Zuberi said. The university is on a mission to preserve 60,000-odd ‘taliyola' records for posterity.

“We have made great strides in international academic collaboration too,” Prof. Zuberi said. MoUs have been signed with Charles University of Prague and Tubingen University of Germany.

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