Institutes cannot function in isolation: UGC Chairman

Laments lack of educational intervention to tackle inadequacies of nation

Updated - November 05, 2011 09:04 am IST

Published - November 05, 2011 03:16 am IST - CHENNAI:

STUPENDOUS EFFORT: K. Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor, University of Madras, presenting the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy to Mohammed Gadaffi, a physically challenged person, at the 154th convocation of the university on Friday. G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, (second from left), is in the picture. Photo: V. Ganesan

STUPENDOUS EFFORT: K. Rosaiah, Governor of Tamil Nadu and Chancellor, University of Madras, presenting the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy to Mohammed Gadaffi, a physically challenged person, at the 154th convocation of the university on Friday. G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, (second from left), is in the picture. Photo: V. Ganesan

National problems cannot be overcome without appropriate educational intervention, University Grants Commission(UGC) Chairman Ved Prakash said here on Friday.

Delivering the 154th convocation address of the University of Madras, he said that poverty and poor human development was staring at our face, “but appropriate educational intervention has not been made to tackle several inadequacies of the country.” Even in the 1960s, education was considered an instrument of poverty alleviation. “Still we are unable to do much about it.”

Universities should embrace ideals connected with society because institutes could not work in isolation. For instance, they could have collaboration with industries. “But, not a single university has a workshop of an industry on its campus in this country.”

Higher education itself was facing several crises — of governance, resources and ethics. Universities should widen their access, broaden curriculum, improve quality of teaching and forge national and international collaboration.

Calling this an “era of reforms”, Dr. Prakash was categorical that “access [to higher education] without equity and excellence is of no use”. He wanted every section of society represented in higher education, which should be looked at in a holistic manner. “The time has come to redefine our education needs in the light of the inter-dependence of society, which can't grow without technological advancement.”

He called for “visionary leadership” not only at the university level but also at the college and institute level. The heads of institutions have the responsibility to strike a balance between global and local, tradition and modernity, and generalised skills and specialised skills.

“We have got to move from learning system to discovery system.” Universities should function according to the needs of the modern world. They should organise “extra inspirational” programmes and achieve excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, innovation and engagement.

As a word of advice to the faculty, the UGC chief called for introspection. “You should look back to understand what has worked in the past and what has not worked.” They should put their heads together, identify the guiding principles and come out with a “perspective plan” for the greater good of society. For new graduates, Dr. Prakash stressed on discipline as the foremost requirement. There could be no short cut to progress. “Do not allow anything dishonest to come near you.” He wanted them to accommodate divergent views, for which a sense of tolerance was imperative.

P. Palaniappan, Minister of Higher Education and Pro-Chancellor, said Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was determined to raise the gross enrolment ratio to 25 per cent by 2025.

Governor and Chancellor of the university, K. Rosaiah, presided and gave away diplomas to a number of candidates. G. Thiruvasagam,Vice-Chancellor, outlined the achievements and contributions of the university, one of the oldest in the country.

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