The post of the vice-chancellor of one of the largest health universities in the country, the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), is indeed a hot seat of power. On Thursday, K.S. Sriprakash, who stepped down from the post of Director of the Minto Eye Hospital, took over this coveted post.
The sixth health professional to head this university, which is no stranger to controversy, Dr. Sriprakash admits that the task at hand is a tough one. With huge examination scandals, plenty of court cases and controversies galore staring him in the face, he hopes to bring in reforms — both in examinations and academics — to be able to give the university a permanent home in Bangalore, and then go on to transform it into a research hub. In a freewheeling chat with The Hindu, the ophthalmologist shared his vision, his focus areas and his roadmap for reform.
Emphasising on the importance of research in medicine, he says he wants to make research an ineluctable part of the education culture of the varsity. “We need multiple departments carrying out research and need to secure funding to make this happen. The current scenario in India is clinically oriented, and given the low doctor-patient ratio, it is indeed an important focus area. But as we build on numbers, we must also develop a focus on research.”
He believes that a whole new infrastructure, equipment and culture of documentation must be nurtured for this.
Dr. Sriprakash, who has monitored several fellowship programmes, feels that the number of institutions involved in fellowship programmes (currently over 30 are involved) must be increased. “We have to support ongoing research work. I will try to create a separate fund for research. In foreign countries, there are huge research grants that are fairly easily accessible. I would like to have a similar research ecosystem that encourages cutting-edge research in our colleges.”
On academic reforms, he emphasised on the need to increase practical training in undergraduate courses. The current format is too bookish, and exposure to patients limited. “Students, right from the start, must have practical exposure.” For this, he hopes the university will have a debate and come out with a comprehensive plan for academic reforms.