Varsities must transit to knowledge system: UGC chief

DISCUSSING IDEAS:Anisa Basheer Khan (right), Vice-Chancellor (Officiating), Pondicherry University, has a word with Ved Prakash, UGC Chairman on ThursdayPhoto: S.S. Kumar

DISCUSSING IDEAS:Anisa Basheer Khan (right), Vice-Chancellor (Officiating), Pondicherry University, has a word with Ved Prakash, UGC Chairman on ThursdayPhoto: S.S. Kumar  


University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Ved Prakash on Thursday called on universities to graduate from the ‘learning system’ to ‘knowledge system’ to compete at the global ranking level.

During his inaugural address at a two-day national conference on 'Distance Education in India: Emerging Challenges and Prospects,' held in Puducherry on Thursday, Mr. Prakash said that most of the universities fell under the learning system, which implied that knowledge created elsewhere was translated and certified on the campuses of the universities.

“But, we need to graduate from the learning system to knowledge system to create new knowledge, besides disseminating and certifying this knowledge,” he said.

Mr. Prakash underlined that global ranking system had become the seal of approval for quality. At a time when none of the Indian universities figured in the first 100 in the global ranking, the UGC Chairman said: “There are questions as to why Indian universities are not in the first 100 in the global ranking. We are under enormous pressure to compete at the global level where 15 international agencies are involved in ranking. Global ranking has become near universal. It has become a seal of approval for quality. No country can afford to fall behind in global ranking.”

Mr. Prakash underlined that even at the national level, the institutions were under pressure for the assessment and accreditation of NAAC and the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

Stating that Indian universities had been relegated to the background in the past 159 years after being pioneers in education, the UGC Chairman said that when the universities entered the Humboldtian era in the 19{+t}{+h}Century, it created structures of disciple like history, physics etc. “This system was accepted and embraced at a greater speed by the U.S. and Japanese universities. The U.S. universities outranked European universities at that time because of effective governance of the university system and nationalisation of higher education. They were able to establish a strong linkage between university and industry.”

He added that since Independence, the number of educational institutions and students enrolling for higher education had increased.

Bimal Chandra Mal, Vice Chancellor, JIS University, West Bengal; Vimala Veeraraghavan, former professor, Delhi University; H.P. Dikshit, former IGNOU VC; Anisa Basheer Khan, Vice Chancellor, Pondicherry University; M. Ramachandran, Registrar-in-charge and Sibnath Deb, Director-in-charge, Directorate of Distance Education, Pondicherry University, also participated.

ODL system

Talking on the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) system, Mr. Prakash stated that there was trust deficit among people due to some players in the system.

“The resources that are generating through the ODL programmes by way of carrying out massive recruitment of the students are not used for improving the ODL material or the quality of instructional material or faculty development. In many universities, the resources that are generated through ODL programme are used to run the regular progammes of the university because they are not getting adequate support from the state. Therefore, we are suffering from several of problems,” he said.

He instructed the institutions to reflect on the weakness of the current system and deliberate on how to overcome it. “They have to prepare a framework for the improvement what kind of framework should you come up with for qualitative improvement, sustainability and ensure merit, governance and quality of research,” he said.

Staff shortage

When asked about the shortage of faculty in Pondicherry Central University, he said that the UGC had sanctioned the requisite number of posts and it was up to the university to fill up the posts.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 11:20:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/Varsities-must-transit-to-knowledge-system-UGC-chief/article14630671.ece

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