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Education Equity Fund urged

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M. Anandakrishnan
M. Anandakrishnan

K. Ramachandran

It will help the poor get better access to quality education, says Anandakrishnan

The promise of reduction in feel level can be done only for Government institutions: Prof. AnandakrishnanSays imbalance in enrolment capacity between Government and private colleges should be reduced"Anna University must be made into a unitary type university"

CHENNAI: Creation of an equity fund to help the poor get better access to quality education, reconverting Anna University into a unitary type university and stepping up investments to start new government colleges should be part of an agenda for the new Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Government, says M. Anandakrishnan, former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University.

Prof. Anandakrishnan, who now heads the Madras Institute of Development Studies, says that the DMK manifesto had already talked about reduction of fee for higher education programmes. In the light of Supreme Court rulings, it could be very difficult legally for the Government to ask private professional colleges to reduce the fee.

Reduction of fees

"If you want to reduce fee levels as promised it can be done only for government institutions which are very few in number and which have a miniscule number of students. So it is time the Government established an Education Equity Fund. If it allocates about one per cent of its total budgetary expenditure, then the Fund will get about Rs. 40 crore in the first year itself as seed money. By law, I believe it is possible to carve out 5 per cent of the total fee collection by the private colleges and transfer this to the Fund. Both can then combine to make the Fund into Rs. 80 crore in the first year itself. Annually it will grow cumulatively and be available for investment," Dr. Anandakrishnan told The Hindu .

Also, the Government which has in the past few decades moved away from its responsibility towards higher education, private colleges have grown enormously in number. Tamil Nadu has 230 or more private engineering colleges and only a dozen or so government colleges.

"Now the Central Government itself is keen that this distortion or imbalance must not be allowed to continue, and the Government should reduce the imbalance in enrolment capacity between Government and private colleges," he says adding that the Government has only one way to achieve this, by increasing enrolment in government colleges.

Prof. Anandakrishnan says the Planning Commission is already looking at substantial increases in allocation for higher education.

"The Tamil Nadu Government, when it goes to the Centre for Central Planning fund allocations, must specifically ask and get allocation for higher education."

He says the third item on the agenda for the Government should be to reconsider the Anna University's affiliating status. "Anna University must be made (back) into a unitary type university. Personally he says, it was sad to see the deterioration in academic quality and standards in the institution because of its turning into an affiliating type.

Most of the faculty now was caught in dealing with the problems of the 230 colleges, while few international conferences or projects were getting organised and research activity had suffered.

Uniformity of standards

The only justification for having an affiliating university is uniformity of standards.

The alternative he suggests is for one State-level technical university, which will conduct the examination, and look at standards, norms and quality of the affiliated engineering colleges.

"Or more than one technical university can be created or the colleges be allowed to go back for affiliation to the respective regional universities. I feel that if the present trend continues, Anna University's prestige will reach lowest levels in a few years. This has to be changed," he says.

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