It has three State universities, five deemed universities, and 286 colleges spread over nine districts
With three State universities, five deemed universities, and 286 colleges spread over nine districts, the Western region of Tamil Nadu enjoys the pride of place for a high concentration of educational institutions in the State.
Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore, has 182 institutions, of which 147 are engineering and the rest stand-alone. There are 49 colleges in Coimbatore and 30 in Namakkal. The number of colleges awaiting approval for the academic year 2011-12 is 32. And, Bharathiar University has 105, out of which 93 are arts and science colleges and the rest are stand-alone. Coimbatore has 52.
So, it is not surprising that the academic fraternity here has many expectations from the new Government. The demands of the stakeholders range from increased financial support to establishment of a World Class University.
Speaking toThe Hinduafter meeting with Higher Education Minister P. Palaniappan, Vice-Chancellors of Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore, and Bharathiar University, sounded positive about the development activities the region would witness in the area of higher education.
Vice-Chancellor of Anna University of Technology, Coimbatore, K. Karunakaran said he had sought the help of the Minister in speeding up the construction of the university building on the land adjoining Bharathiar University.
“This is the most important agenda because it is not appropriate for a State university of this stature to continue functioning from a rented premises,” the Vice-Chancellor said.
For Vice-Chancellor of Bharathiar University C. Swaminathan, the immediate need was that the Government should revive the block grant that the university had not been getting for quite some time.
“The university is supposed to get an annual block grant for development activities. While Central Universities are getting grants to the tune of many crores, many State universities have been deprived of this grant for a long time. The grant has to be revived and also enhanced,” Mr. Swaminathan said.
While these are the expectations of the academic heads in Coimbatore, the wish list from Tirupur institutions include financial, academic and administrative autonomy for institutions run by private managements.
J. Manjula, Principal, G.V.G. Visalakshi College for Women, Udumalpet, said that fresh regulations on private institutions could only impede the growth of the institutions and students and put a spoke on improving infrastructure.
There was a plea from Namakkal that institutions that exclusively served women and students from rural areas should be given relaxations in terms of intake and new courses.
M. Karunanidhi, Chairman, Vivekanandha and Tagore Educational Institutions for Women, who has nearly 25 institutions in Tiruchengode and Sangakiri, said: “If the Government relaxes the rule with regard to number of seats in such colleges, this will definitely help increase the volume of students from rural areas coming for higher education.”
He also sought relaxations for approval of new courses, affiliation fee, etc., for these colleges.
It was not the academicians and managements alone who had a wish list. The most important stakeholder – the students – too had expectations. But those, if fulfilled, would not only benefit them, but also the new stock who came after them.
G. Sobana, first year ME student of Government College of Technology, wanted the common entrance examination for admission to the engineering course to be revived. She was part of the last batch which underwent the entrance examination.
“There is a general feedback from the industry and students too that the quality of students who have been admitted without the entrance examination is not up to the mark,” she said.
A. Logendran, a history student at Chikkanna Government Arts College in Tirupur, said students who opted for subjects such as history should be encouraged by the Government in the form of creating jobs for those who had done arts and humanities courses.
Many youth were not showing interest in pursuing history at the undergraduate level because of the bleak future projected by those who promoted engineering and medicine courses. “If this situation continues, subjects such as history will become a ‘history' in higher education institutions,” he said.
Another major issue in the region is the proposal of the former Government to convert the Government Arts College, Coimbatore, and PSG Institutions into private unitary universities. Many academicians are confident that the new Government will not pursue the proposal.
C. Pichandy, State general secretary, Association of University Teachers, said: “We sincerely believe the Chief Minister will not convert the Government and aided institutions into private unitary universities because she has time and again said that she is in favour of the public system of education.”
(With inputs from R. Vimal Kumar in Tirupur and M.K. Ananth in Namakkal)