Viswanathan delivers Graduation Day address at DKM College for Women

The State government should extend to arts and science students the concession of bearing tuition fees of first-generation learners who get admission to professional colleges in order to encourage students to take up basic sciences and prevent the neglect of basic sciences, said G. Viswanathan, Chancellor of VIT University.

Delivering the Graduation Day Address at the 36th Graduation Ceremony of the Dhanabagyam Krishnaswamy Mudaliar (DKM) College for Women here on Saturday, Mr. Viswanathan said that in view of the government's decision last year to bear the entire tuition fees of first-generation learners who got admission in professional colleges, most of the students who would have otherwise opted for the undergraduate (UG) arts and science courses avoided them and preferred to join the professional colleges. The State was facing a severe shortage of teachers with postgraduate (PG) and M.Phil. qualifications for maths, physics and chemistry in the arts and science colleges. “We should not ignore the basic sciences,” he said, adding that the Central and Tamil Nadu governments should take joint efforts to overcome this scarcity of science teachers.

The VIT Chancellor called upon the State government to take steps to fill retirement vacancies of teachers in colleges to protect the interests of the students studying in government and aided colleges. At present, it takes months together for the government to fill up retirement vacancies, causing hardship to the students. Since the government knew well as to when a particular lecturer or professor is going to retire, it should take steps two or three months in advance to recruit a candidate to replace the retiring teacher so that the new incumbent takes charge immediately after the previous incumbent retires, he said.

Mr. Viswanathan also pleaded for the abolition of the system of engaging teachers on consolidated pay basis in order to encourage students to take to the teaching profession. At present, even teachers with M.Sc. and M.Phil. qualifications were appointed on consolidated pay ranging from Rs.6000 to Rs.8000 per month as against the starting pay of a lecturer, which is Rs.39,000. “Such injustice should not be meted out to teachers. The government should be a model employer. If the government does not give the salary due to the teachers, it will not have the propriety to question the private colleges which are paying low salary to their teachers,” he said.

Mr. Viswanathan wanted the government to bear the fees of poor students who get admission in institutions of higher education in order to increase the access to higher education on par with the world average. As per the latest census, only 10 States and Union Territories have crossed the 85 per cent literacy level, and Tamil Nadu is not one among them despite the presence of a large number of institutions of higher education. Only 12 per cent of the youth in the relevant age group have access to higher education in India, as against the world average of 77 per cent. The students in the higher strata of society who are able to afford the fees in higher educational institutions are able to benefit from the favourable employment market, wherein they are able to land plum jobs with fantastic pay scales.

The government should help the students in the lower strata of society too to join the professional colleges and get good jobs by bearing the expenditure on their fees, he said.

The VIT-Chancellor suggested that instead of starting new colleges or universities in pursuance to the report of the Sam Pitroda committee to start 1500 new universities, the Centre should convert into universities those colleges which have the potential, and also convert the autonomous colleges into universities. This is necessary in order to facilitate research publications and patents so that the Indian universities compete with their counterparts in the developed countries. At least 10 per cent of the colleges in India should be made autonomous colleges. He said he hoped that the DKM College, which is an autonomous college, will soon become a university. Though an autonomous college has the power to change the syllabus, it cannot offer its own degrees. Besides, it has wait for nearly 10 months to hold the Graduation Ceremony and distribute the diplomas to the graduates. A situation should arise where the Convocation or Graduation Ceremony is conducted within three months of the conduct of examinations, he said.

D. Maninathan, secretary of the DKM College for Women presided. K. Revathy, Principal said that 803 PG, UG and M.Phil. candidates will receive their diplomas at the Graduation Ceremony. Ten PG departments got 100 per cent results while 10 UG departments and one PG department got 98 per cent results in the examinations held in April 2010.

The management has given cash awards worth Rs.4.08 lakh to the rank-holders and the rank-producing departments, she said. T. Sivakumar, president, DKM College for Women, participated.