The Institute of Clinical Research, India, (ICRI) will partner with the United Kingdom-based Cranfield University to launch the first M.Sc. programme in clinical research for working professionals to hone their skills and help them gain new insights in the field.

Beginning April 1, the part-time course called the Executives' Programme will expose the existing professionals in clinical research and allied fields to newer technologies in terms of data management and audit.

The classes for this programme will be held on Saturdays every week on ICRI campuses in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to ensure minimal disruption to the professionals' work.

"We believe that though these people have already been working for some time and have been trained in a particular sector in their organisation, they do not possess the full breadth of knowledge in the field of clinical research. The new course will fill this skill gap," said Head of Cranfield Biomedical Centre Anthony Woodman.

Earlier in 2006, Cranfield and ICRI launched a full time M.Sc. course -- costing Rs.4.9 lakhs -- for Indian students. The first year would be taught by the ICRI faculty, while teachers of both the institutions will jointly handle the final year.

The course, Prof. Woodman insists, is exactly the same as the one being taught at Cranfield in the U.K.

"Both the part-time and the full-time course that we are doing in India has exactly the same syllabus that we teach in our country. The programme is at par with the international standards and has a global value. The only thing is that the teaching style is slightly different for the Executives' Programme," he stated.

"There will be more of discussion and less of teaching in the part-time course. Since the students have some work experience, we believe that they will have a high level of understanding of the subject."

Aprt from this, Cranfield and ICRI are also chalking out details to start a doctorate programme in India.

"There is a growing demand for professionals in this field. Clinical research is an evolving field and there is a diversity of jobs available," Prof Woodman pointed out.

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Former Chief Justice of India Justice A. M. Ahmadi was re-elected Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for the next three years.

Nawab Rahmatullah Khan Sherwani and former Economic Advisor to the Union Government Mahfooz Ahmad were declared elected as Pro-Chancellor and Honorary Treasurer respectively, according to an AMU release.

Forty-two representatives from different walks of life were also elected for membership of the University Court at its annual meeting. Eminent historian Mushirul Hasan, noted film lyricist Javed Akhtar, economist Dr. Abu Saleh Sharif and Member of Parliament Abu Asim Azmi were also elected to the Court.

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The Academics for Action and Development (AAD) have expressed its reservations over certain proposals on higher education like creation of an independent regulatory authority put forward by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC).

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AAD chairman S. S. Rathi urged him to invite opinions and suggestions from the teaching and student community on the "controversial" recommendations submitted by the NKC.

"We disagree with the suggestion of NKC for enactment of an Act by Parliament so as to create an `Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education' (IRAHE) authorised to accord degree-granting power to higher education institutes and for monitoring standards and settling disputes," said Dr. Rathi, who is also former president of the Delhi University Teachers' Association.

"We oppose this because in this age of well demarcated specialisations in higher education, it would not be possible for a single agency to monitor and regulate the whole spectrum. The need is to streamline and strengthen the functioning of the existing bodies," he argued.

AAD is also opposed to the NKC proposal to establish `Central Board of Undergraduate Education' and `State Boards of Undergraduate Education' for setting the curricula and conducting examinations for those undergraduate colleges that choose to be affiliated with them.

"Already there are statutory bodies doing the task of revising curricula and devising model

curricula. The need is to ensure their proper implementation and providing the resources for the same," Dr. Rathi added.

-- Parul Sharma