interview | Sudhir Krishnaswamy Bengaluru

‘We need to engage better with students’

Bringing a sense of community in the varsity is my first priority, says NLSIU V-C

At 44, Sudhir Krishnaswamy — the youngest Vice-Chancellor of the National Law School of India University — goes against the stereotype of a stuffy law professor. After the recent protests by students, he is ready to roll up his sleeves to steer the prestigious university into calmer waters. He believes the protests do not reflect “bad culture”, but underscores the need for the administration to engage and communicate better with the students. Excerpts:

What are your priorities as the Vice-Chancellor?

The last six months at the university have not been good. There is unnecessary abrasiveness and tension that has not been sorted out. We need to find a way to restore some civic grace and bring a sense of community, which is my first priority. A large number of permanent faculty positions are vacant. The executive council has authorised us to begin the process of recruitment. We need to map our faculty and find out where we need to focus on recruitment.

Various stakeholders have pointed out to the lack of diversity in NLSIU. Do you agree with this?

The institution, over the last decade, has witnessed a demographic transition and we have more students now from tier-II and tier-III cities. It is wrong to say there is an absence of diversity, but we can do better. But if we have to reflect on the diversity of the country, may be we need to work on scaling up the institution.

A report by the Student Bar Association spoke about the academic stress and a significant chunk of students having year losses. How are you planning to tackle this?

Students are not asking for concessionary educational format. They actually want rigorous education and their complaint is that they do not feel that the curriculum is challenging or engaging. When we fix that, issues of attendance and year losses will sort themselves out. We need to rewire the core of the academic programme. Besides this, the university has not used a standardised learning management system and has not systematised the way we design and organise courses and curriculum. We plan to address this.

How do you plan to address the financial crisis that NLSIU is facing?

There is a deficit of ₹4.89 crore on an operating revenue of ₹25 crore. The fee hike will resolve 50% of the deficit, but I’m looking at some heads of expenditure that can can be drastically reduced. However, student fees can never be the driver of the operating expenses of the university. We need substantial endowments. I need to lead the effort to mobilise resources from alumni and other external sources.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 8:10:40 PM |

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