UGC had declined funding for a project under SAP

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sanctioned grants to the tune of Rs. 5.94 crore for projects of various departments in universities across the State and Puducherry for the 12th Plan period under its Special Assistance Programme (SAP). The grants are meant for seven ongoing projects, including the one in the Department of Educational Technology of Bharathidasan University (BU) here. However, grant has not been recommended for three departments in two universities, including the Department of Economics of BU.

The SAP is intended to encourage excellence and teamwork in advanced teaching and research to achieve international standards in specific fields. It is implemented under three categories – Centre of Advanced Study (CAS), Department of Special Assistance (DSA), and Departmental Research Support (DRS). The performance of the departments is reviewed at three stages by an advisory committee, mid-term monitoring and evaluation committee, and end-term/final review committee. The UGC, after a review conducted in February, has issued a notice on August 23 listing the departments recommended for extension of ongoing programmes, those not recommended, and those chosen for fresh grants.

Among the 72 departments chosen for extension of ongoing schemes are the Department of Educational Technology, BU (Rs. 60 lakh); Department of Communication, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (Rs. 40.5 lakh); Department of Physical Education, Annamalai University (Rs. 50 lakh); Department of Physical Education, Alagappa University (Rs.60 lakh); Department of Sociology (Rs. 48 lakh), and School of Tamil Studies, Madurai Kamaraj University (Rs.60 lakh), and Department of Tamil, Bharathiar University (Rs. 60.7 lakh).

The newly inducted departments are Department of Business Administration, Annamalai University (Rs.55 lakh); Department of Psychology, Pondicherry University (Rs.28 lakh); Department of Textile and Clothing, Avinashilingam Institute of Home Science and Higher Education for Women (Rs. 56.8 lakh), and the Department of Printing Technology, Anna University (Rs. 75 lakh).

The Department of Economics of BU has not been recommended for SAP grant as the “quality of work [is] not satisfactory. Research output [is] below average.” The Department of Economics and Department of Library and Information Sciences of the University of Madras are the other two departments not considered for SAP grant. In the case of Department of Economics of the University of Madras, the UGC has said, “They do not seem to be doing significant work. Department may be encouraged to reapply for DSA next year.”

The Department of Economics, BU, was granted Rs. 26 lakh in 2007 for pursuing a project, ‘Natural resources and human mapping,’ for five years. The reason for the UGC not continuing its funding support, according to J.A. Arul Chellakumar, Head, is that the project could not be sustained for five years as the subject expert moved out to form another department. The theme could not be pursued for want of experts. However, as part of efforts to revive the project, field trips were organised to tribal habitations in Perumalmalai, Kolli Hills, and Siddhar Malai in 2012, says Dr. Chellakumar.

A slightly modified project, titled “Human development and natural resources,” was submitted to the UGC for extended funding, which has been declined now. Dr. Chellakumar says the research work done at the department and the facilities available have been commended by the evaluation committee of the UGC and the National Accreditation and Assessment team. They will present the proposal afresh for SAP funding from 2014-15.