434 candidates, including 64 gold medal winners, receive degrees

As an emerging knowledge hub, India’s foremost focus ought to be on increasing Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education. This was the point P. Palaniappan, Minister for Higher Education, and R. Nataraj, Chairman, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, kept emphasising while addressing the 29th convocation of Bharathidasan University on Wednesday.

At the convocation ceremony initiated by the Governor and Chancellor K. Rosaiah, 434 candidates, including 64 gold medal winners, received their degrees in person. In all, 46,032 candidates comprising Ph.D., M. Phil., PG, and UG degree holders were awarded degrees. The rest were presented their degrees in absentia. The Tamil Nadu 2023 Vision document provides for increasing the GER in Tamil Nadu to 25 per cent, two percentage points above the world average, Mr. Palaniappan said.

At present, Tamil Nadu’s GER in higher education was 18 per cent against the national average of 13. Along with power, water, health, and infrastructure, higher education figures among the 10 focus areas in the vision document.

It was in this direction that the government had been starting new colleges and providing funds for infrastructure development and ICT integration in the existing government colleges and constituent colleges of universities, Mr. Palaniappan said. He advised students to transform into job providers, under the aegis of the Entrepreneurship Development Cells that the government has been promoting in colleges.

Mr. Nataraj said the challenge was in imparting vocational training and skill education to about 1.2 crore children who drop out after secondary education and transforming them into human resource.

Only 1.66 crore out of 2.89 crore children at secondary level pursue higher education. Compulsory elementary education that will strengthen democratic fabric had to be qualitative for first generation learners.

Higher education infrastructure must be increased to make India take its rightful place as the world’s knowledge centre. Teachers must be without borders cultivating academic excellence with emphasis on character development and socio economic quotient, Mr. Nataraj said and added that the system of governance should address issues of creating more jobs, equipping people with required skills for the jobs, and making sure that hard work led to decent living.

Vice Chancellor K. Meena said the University Grants Commission had sanctioned Rs. 2.07 crore for 2012-13 under general development assistance scheme to meet XII Plan requirements.

Under the SAKSHAM programme to empower faculty with IT skills, the State government had identified Bharathidasan University as one of the two nodal centres for implementation. In the last one year, various funding agencies sanctioned Rs. 6.1 crore for developing university departments. Faculty members had been awarded funds for research projects with a total grant of Rs. 11.89 crore, the Vice-Chancellor added.