The government will start 299 additional courses in 51 government arts and science colleges this academic year, according to Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan.

In his reply to the discussion on demands for grants for the department, the Minister said starting additional academic courses in these colleges required creation of 841 posts of assistant professor in the next three years.

Efforts would also be made to fill 3,120 teaching and 1,758 non-teaching posts in government aided colleges.

The government would establish university-business collaboration centres, introduce a ‘study abroad' programme for faculty and students, set up centres for technical and academic writing; multi-modal material production for the differently-abled; incubation and technology centres and PG centres of excellence with high-tech laboratories in universities.

He assured special care for slow learners to prevent college dropout, creation of soft skill centres for empowering students to develop managerial skills to gain employability and the establishment of government community colleges in all the districts under Tamil Nadu Open University.

Saying that the government had distributed about 1.74 lakh laptops to final year students in engineering, polytechnics, arts and science colleges, the Minister said the Chief Minister had sanctioned Rs.1,500 crore in this budget for distribution of over 2.12 lakh laptops. CPI (M) deputy leader in the House K. Balabharathi and whip K. Balakrishnan asked the government to act decisively for ending the term of a 71-year old registrar in a private university funded by the government as it was against norms. The Minister replied that he had sought all details and assured appropriate action.

The government had received a report on the merger of Anna Universities of Technology into Anna University-Chennai. After consulting the Chief Minister, a government order would be issued shortly.