To counter the financial crunch and the lack of State funding for universities, there should be a greater involvement of industry and research organisations in post-graduation research, said M.M. Pallam Raju, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, during a visit to Mangalore University here on Friday.

There was “lop-sided” funding favouring Central universities over State universities, and populist programmes overshadowed the long-term education commitments in the State’s budget, he said. However, by reaching out to industry and research centres, and by application-based research, the finances of a university could improve, he said.

“There needs to be relevant interaction with research organisations and industries such as CII (Confederate of Indian Industry) and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry). The university can do primary research for the industries. This way, the universities won’t have to depend solely on State funding,” he said.

Calling for more application-based research, as well as research that would address local issues, he said the proposal to increase spending on research and development to 2 per cent of the budget would create the right atmosphere in universities.

Faculty shortage

During a discussion with the faculty at the university, a common complaint was the shortage of faculty. And even the posts sanctioned and paid for by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for five years was not sufficient as the State government, which was supposed to bear the financial burden after the period, did not renew the posts, said the faculty members.

Manjunatha Pattabi, a professor in the Department of Material Sciences, said Operation Faculty Recharge, which saw UGC hiring and paying professors till retirement, had not taken off yet.

Mr. Raju said the government was looking into ways to remedy the situation, including greater involvement of UGC in State universities.

Responding to a suggestion to reduce the interest on education loan, presently fixed at 12 per cent, the Minister said he would consult the Finance Ministry regarding this. He said the Union government would encourage State governments to form their own statutory and regulatory bodies to monitor and improve the quality of educational institutions.

Murthy seeks fund

T.C. Shivashankara Murthy, Vice-Chancellor, requested the Minister to include the university under a Government of India programme in which select universities would be given grants to turn them into “world class” centres. Expounding on the infrastructure projects on the campus estimated at Rs. 92 crore, including the construction of Pareeksha Bhavan, estimated at Rs. 42 crore, a stadium and a racing track, Mr. Murthy said a Union Government grant of between Rs. 50 crore and Rs. 100 crore would improve infrastructure and quality of education here.

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