University of Calicut backtracks from a tie-up with Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

The University of Calicut might point its finger to an empty cash chest but the School of Drama and Fine Arts under it has lost the chance to partner with an international university in the first of its kind national initiative.

The university recently pulled out of a project to launch a joint two-year practice-based Master's degree programme in Intercultural Theatre-making with Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). And this has now been snapped up by the School of Performing Arts, Pondicherry University. The project is one of the programmes offered under the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI).

A contract was signed between the Indian division of the British Council and the University of Calicut for the programme in February 2012. The proposed master’s degree was designed for “an active interplay across cultures through a focus on classics from the partner countries in performance before diverse audiences.” It was also decided that the British Council will pay the partnering university 22,840 British Pounds for the entire period and the first installment of Rs. 11,02,896 was released in July 2012.

But the University of Calicut backpedalled, citing financial liabilities. “One of the conditions in the project was that a British faculty member be posted at the School of Drama with salary on a par with British pay scale. This was not something we could handle, given the dire financial status of the university,” M. Abdul Salam, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calicut told The Hindu.

“It was clear right from the initial discussions that we were not going to benefit from the programme, as these foreign universities were attempting to take advantage of our rich tradition and culture and the facilities available here. It was more of a business proposition than an academic one,” Dr. Salam said. However, one of the communications made by Sam Grogan, Director of Higher Education Operations at LIPA, to the Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor had made it clear that the new post was to be created with local salary pattern.

With the university moving out of the project in February 2013, the first installment of the project’s seed money released by the British Council was repaid. When contacted, Shweta Gandhi, project manager of UKIERI at British Council, New Delhi, confirmed the development and said the process was on for finalising the partnership with Pondicherry University.

Ian McNish, the faculty for whom a post was to be created at the University, told The Hindu from the UK over phone that the partnership with Pondicherry University was “very much in early days.” However, a faculty member of the Pondicherry University said the process was under way and the post was expected to be created by June this year. The first batch of the new programme is expected to begin by April 2014.

More In: Kochi