Improving access to and quality of higher education, proper employment for students of arts and science streams and introduction of semester abroad system will be among the top items on the agenda of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education (TANSCHE).
Cynthia Pandian, who took charge as its vice-chairperson on Wednesday, told reporters that the State's priority was to improve access to higher education, targeting the 18 to 23 age group.
Citing lack of motivation and awareness among first generation students as primary reasons for low enrolment in higher education, she said that the creation of more colleges and universities would address the problem. As it was natural that the quality of education suffered at the time of expansion, the task, she said, was to simultaneously improve and maintain the quality through proper programmes, policies and planning.
Another disturbing factor was underemployment of arts and science graduates. While (most) engineering students were able to get some decent jobs, 30 to 40 per cent of arts and science graduates were underemployed, working in job profiles not matching their study area.
“There is a need to equip these graduates with skills to enable them to achieve their true potential.”
Asked if such graduates will be brought back to college, she said, “It will be a challenge and we will have to work out modalities.”
The council would also explore the possibility of introducing a programme under which students can study one semester abroad and obtain credits in a specific field of study. At present, only students who could afford it were able to travel abroad for higher studies.
Examination reforms, flexible credit-based choice system and sharing of resources by top colleges with rural colleges will be other priorities of the council, she said. Ms. Pandian had been professor and head, Department of Education, the University of Madras and vice-chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli.