Addressing Tamil Nadu’s concerns over the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari said the Bill would not infringe on the autonomy of the States.

Speaking to reporters after the 30th convocation of Anna University here on Friday, Ms. Purandeswari said the NCHER would only subsume the roles currently undertaken by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the University Grants Commission (UGC) and other such bodies and oversee the working of these branches.

She also clarified that issues including the moving of education to State List and the creation of a common examination for each stream in higher education would be subjected to wide debate before being implemented.

Earlier, in her convocation address, she said the graduands should act as leaders in the fields of development and growth in their respective fields. At the same time, she called upon universities such as Anna University to draw up an agenda for nation building supplementing the role of State instrumentalities.

K. Ponmudy, Higher Education Minister and Pro-chancellor, Anna University, said the State was committed to increasing quantity and improving quality in higher education. Many colleges were functioning as coaching institutions instead of teaching institutions and this had to change first, he said. He noted that around 48,000 of the 88,000 graduands were women, indicating a positive trend in the empowerment of women.

P. Mannar Jawahar, Vice-Chancellor, Anna University, read the annual report and presented the University’s achievements during the past year. He said the University had struck a good balance between teaching and research. Various government agencies had allotted Rs. 27 crore in funds for different projects, he said.

The Caterpillar Foundation had released $40,000 out of a three-year $121,000 grant and the Ministry of Environment and Forests had sanctioned Rs. 200 crore for a world-class centre on coastal technology. The University had signed 23 MoUs with international entities and 10 MoUs nationally, he said. The University had been ranked fifth among 319 universities in India by the University Web rankings. Over 200 companies had visited the campus for placements and nearly 578 foreign students were studying at the University.

With over 2,700 Ph.D. scholars and 290 research M.S. scholars, the University was among the top-ranked institutions in terms of research publications. The development of Anusat, a micro-satellite designed by the University, was also a milestone in research, he added.

Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor and Chancellor, Anna University, felicitated the medal winners and toppers in various courses and administered the convocation pledge.

In all, 881,05 students graduated including 72,833 undergraduate students, 14,738 postgraduates, 24 M.Phil. students, 54 M.S. (research) students and 456 Ph.D. students.