Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) B. Ashok, who took charge on Monday, said that his immediate priorities were to develop infrastructure for the university on a large scale using qualified architects and builders and properly use the funds sanctioned.
He resumed office on Monday following a July 30 verdict of the Kerala High Court. Since October 22, 2011, Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar has been holding charge as the Vice-Chancellor of the university.
“The new courses started need to be streamlined. The gap between KVASU and the farmer needs to be bridged. Collaborative projects with foreign institutions are also on the anvil,” he told The Hindu .
He said that KVASU was looking for partners in launching distance learning programmes on a massive scale.
“We are also looking at development issues in Wayanad and exploring how we can contribute. A Perspective Plan 2030 will be outlined. I look forward to positive action from the government on issues such as funding, land transfer, statutes and staff pattern. I was under the impression that Mr. Jayakumar had sorted them out. I will now request his active help in solving them as he is familiar with the issues,” Dr. Ashok said.
The KVASU had received Rs.50 crore from the Union government last year for infrastructure development. The university faces criticism that the amount not been used effectively so far.
“True. Despite the university’s best efforts, a comprehensive master plan has not been prepared and a competent construction agency not identified. Some moves or decisions in this connection have attracted adverse comment in the media and legislature. There have been certain deviations from standard procedures. They have to be corrected. Let us acknowledge that we lost some of the momentum we had achieved in the first year of operation,” he added.
Asked to comment on allegations of corruption in a decision of the KVASU to scrap a construction work-related MoU with BSNL, Dr. Ashok said, “I am reviewing the matter with senior officials. The chain of events reveal some ad hocism in determining key contracts. A few steps taken could have been avoided. The university will address them. Best practices of procurement will be adopted. I will place the matter before the board and seek legal opinion.”
A few faculty members of KVASU are facing allegations of pursuing Ph.D. programmes through the distance education mode in violation of the rules of the University Grants Commission. According to UGC rules, no university, institution, deemed university and college/institution of national importance shall conduct M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes through the distance education mode.
Does the university plan to take action in this regard? “My view is that only UGC approved full-time Ph.D.s should be accepted. Easily-manufactured Ph.D.s cannot be. Different views on the issue need to be sought. Broadly, UGCs recommendations have to hold in letter and spirit,” he said.