Even though Indian universities reserve seats for students from minority/backward and physically challenged categories in different courses, they lack adequate support system to enable such students to complete their courses successfully. This is in stark contrast to the ways of universities in most of the developed countries, including the United States, A.K. Kasthurba, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, National Institute of Technology, Calicut (NIT-C), has said.

No support system

Dr. Kasthurba, who recently returned from the U.S. after a Fulbright Nehru International Education Administration (IEA) seminar, said the lack of such a support system was proving costly to many reservation students, including those at the NIT-C, over the past several years. “All the universities we visited as part of the programme have a strong support system for such students,” she said.

In the report she submitted to the chairman of the administration after the seminar, Dr. Kasthurba pointed out some of the key areas where the universities in India missed out on quality education in comparison to their American counterparts.

On private funding

She said international exchange programmes and credit transfer systems were often not worked out effectively by the Indian universities while signing memorandums of understanding with universities abroad.

She said public universities here were yet to explore the enormous possibility of private funding for academic and infrastructural advancements unlike the U.S. universities. “Visit to some such universities that have made enormous use of private funding for public education was a real eye-opener for us,” she said.

A significant shortcoming, she said, was that Indian universities were controlled centrally and were less adaptable to local needs and speedy changes. They also did not give proper language support to deserving students, whereas it was given in a professional manner to students in universities in the U.S.

Dr. Kasthurba visited around 15 universities in the U.S. as part of her seminar. She was only person from the State to be selected for the Fulbright programme, sponsored by the United States Department of State, this year.

Dr. Kasthurba, who acted as the Head of the Department of Architecture at the NIT-C earlier, is doing a short-term postdoctoral research at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

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