PersonalityoftheWeek Priority should be for research: Balakrishnan From 10,000 in 2004 the student strength has gone up to 64,000 in 2007
SALEM: In the last two-and-a-half years, Periyar University has witnessed a tremendous growth. It has also received the 12B recognition from the University Grants Commission. Ten new study and research departments have been established in addition to the two existing departments. The total number of affiliated colleges had gone up from 34 to 112. The university, which had only one reader and a professor in June 2004, now has 72 faulty members. It has started conducting regular courses and more than 600 students in its campus now.
More facilities, including buildings, have been created. The credit for these achievements goes to university Vice-Chancellor T. Balakrishnan, who after assuming office in June 2004, has built the university from scratch and put it in the global map of education. He recently shared his views on higher education with S. Ramesh.
"The Salem region has the potential to emerge as a preferred destination for higher education in the years to come. The university has initiated efforts to make sure that the students get quality education," he said.
Only a small number of students were getting the chance to go to higher education in the country. "The university has taken up initiatives to encourage more students to go for higher education in Salem region. The fee structure in many institutions in the university is set low and more career-oriented courses are being offered." As a result of the initiatives, the number of students in the affiliated colleges had gone up from 10,000 in 2004 to 64,000 in 2007.
Mr. Balakrishnan said that the research and development should be given top priority in educational institutions. He emphasised the need to promote basic sciences. "Here we are motivating the students to take up physics, chemistry and biological sciences. We strongly believe that basic sciences are very important for the nation's development," he said.
The university introduced a number of courses that would cater to manpower requirements of industries in the region. Recently, it had started offering a regular programme in M.Tech Exploration Geology as the region was having rich mineral resources, he said.
The university was also promoting teacher education. "Of the 112 colleges, 59 are education colleges. There is a huge demand for teachers with B.Ed qualification in the country," Mr. Balakrishnan said.