Space scientist and Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan, who headed the Karnataka Knowledge Commission, has said that universities in the State are still following cumbersome procedures in the system of governance and they need to undergo structural changes to ensure high quality of education.
Speaking to The Hindu on various issues related to higher education, Dr. Kasturirangan said that structural changes are needed to provide more autonomy to State-run universities in the appointment of vice-chancellors, recruitment of faculty, holding examinations, admission of students, and selection of courses and preparation of syllabus.
The commission has been striving to improve the system in the State’s two innovative universities — the University of Mysore and the Karnataka University, Dharwad. “One can try to have separate universities, one for conducting examinations for colleges and another for excellence in higher studies,” he suggested.
The commission, which has prepared a report on Higher Education Vision 2020, has recommended amendment and overhauling of the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000, with regard to existing governance of higher education (fostering autonomy and streamlining appointment of vice-chancellors and other statutory offices). It also recommended aligning universities to the new vision of the State and to create an educational architecture which is relevant for the 21 century.
“The State government has taken our recommendations seriously and taken steps to implementing them,” he said.
To a query on universities involved in various controversies, particularly with regard to appointment of vice-chancellors and examination malpractices, he said that “due process should be followed in the appointment of vice-chancellors.”
“The government is very sensitive about it. One should not put the cart before the horse; procedures need to be understood and be simplified,” he said.
Expressing concern over the standard of teaching in primary education, he said: “The State is worried about the quality of teachers.” Azim Premji University, Bangalore, has taken initiatives for improving the quality of teaching, he said.
Noting that non-science education should be made more job-oriented, he said: “At present, no person is sure of getting a job after graduation.”
As many students lack employability skills, courses need to be tailored to suit the job market. Communication skills, English-speaking skills and computer skills need to be imparted to make graduates equipped for jobs. “If necessary, introduce one-year embedded courses,” Dr. Kasturirangan said.