The Government of India does not wish to interfere with the academic freedom of higher educational institutions, Union Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday.

Universities will have complete freedom to devise courses and syllabi, transfer credits, adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, have alliances with national and global entities, and enter into joint ventures for financial autonomy, Mr. Sibal said, after laying the foundation stone for the Central University of Tamil Nadu here.

Emphasising on the primacy of intellectual capital as the basis for the nation’s progress, Mr. Sibal called upon educational institutions to reach galaxies with feet on ground. They (the institutions) should understand the realities of today, finding solutions to challenges at the local, state, national, and international levels on an even keel. The HRD Minister vested with higher educational institutions the responsibility of finding ways to ensure energy security through clean technologies, terming it the most important challenge of the 21 st Century.

The Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education at 12.4 per cent was quite inadequate for India to carry on with its nine per cent growth rate. "The GER in developed countries range between 50 per cent and 70 per cent and the global average is 23 to 27 per cent. We need at least 35 per cent GER," he said, explaining the UPA’s rationale behind investing in intellectual capital through starting central universities, IIMs, IITs, and world class universities throughout the country. Describing expansion, inclusion, and excellence as the three pillars of education, Mr. Sibal felt that the country needs to necessarily invest in intellectual capital to compete globally.

Mr. Sibal said the alacrity of the State Government in providing buildings and land for the new university in record time impressed him. Acknowledging that connectivity and infrastructure was lacking in Tiruvarur, Mr. Sibal exuded confidence that the zeal of the State Government will reflect in transformation of the university into a modern temple of learning. The Centre, he assured, will offer the fullest support to put the university on a par with the best in the country and the world.

Presiding over, the Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi attributed the increased educational opportunities for rural students in the State at the primary level to the foundation laid by late Kamaraj through the noon meal scheme, and the commitment. In the DMK regime headed by late Anna, several high and higher secondary schools were started. In its subsequent stints, the DMK regime extended the opportunities of rural students to higher education, by starting several colleges and universities. The Chief Minister appealed to the HRD Minister to ensure 50 percent Home State Quota in Central institutions.

Citing the creation of separate ministries for school education and higher education for the first time in the history by the DMK in its current regime, the Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said Tamil Nadu has always been a front runner in educational progress under the leadership of Mr. Karunanidhi.

The State Minister for Higher Education K. Ponmudi said Tamil Nadu was the only institution to obtain sanction for three Central institutions: The Central University of Tamil Nadu in Tiruvarur, the Indian Institute of Management in Tiruchi, and the World Class University for Coimbatore. Mr. Ponmudi requested Mr. Sibal to expedite the process of establishing the World Class University, stating that the State Government has already earmarked 500 acres for the purpose.

Thanking the State Government for providing temporary buildings and land for the main campus with promptness, the Vice-Chancellor B.P. Sanjay, in his welcome address, assured to make the university a centre for excellence. K. Ganesan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, proposed vote of thanks.

The Union Minister of State for Finance S.S. Palanimanickam, State Minister of Dairy Development U. Mathivanan, District Collector M. Chandrasekaran, and A.K.S. Vijayan, Member of Parliament, took part.