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Varsities' ability to adopt unitary system questioned

T. Ramakrishnan

"The country should soon decide against continuing with affiliating system"

CHENNAI: Even as the demand persists among senior academicians for reverting Anna University to unitary system and bringing all the private self-financing colleges under the jurisdiction of universities location-wise, the question arises whether these universities can ensure meaningful conduct of engineering courses and functioning of the colleges.

Some months ago, veteran educationist V.C. Kulandaisamy told a seminar that most of the universities set up after 1980 did not deserve to be called universities; they were "mere examining centres." The reason for his criticism was that the universities did not have adequate number of teachers.

Under the given conditions, is it desirable to get the private colleges affiliated to these universities?

Prof. Kulandaisamy says the institutions have been conducting examinations and publishing results "reasonably well." So, he does not see anything wrong in bringing the colleges under the control of the universities so long as the affiliating system is in vogue.

Autonomy

At the same time, the colleges can be given as much autonomy as possible. This will provide them "tremendous opportunities" to contribute to new thoughts, says the former Anna University Vice-Chancellor.

P.T. Manoharan, Professor-Emeritus, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and former Madras University Vice-Chancellor, concurs with Prof. Kulandaisamy's views. His idea is that three-four universities can be identified and the colleges brought under their jurisdiction. He names Madurai Kamaraj, Bharatidasan and Madras Universities, which are known for their core strength in several areas.

The two academicians are also categorical on two more points. Anna University should go back to the unitary system as it is losing its reputation for being a strong centre of excellence in research. Another point is that the country should soon decide against continuing with the affiliating system, which, Prof. Kulandaisamy says, is prevalent only in a few other countries. "Unless you have very strong reasons to be different, you cannot be too different from the rest of the world," he says.

Prof. Manoharan says the universities should be multi-disciplinary bodies, as modern knowledge hinges on coherent and cogent grouping of all the faculties.

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