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India must create enough universities to accommodate all: VIT Chancellor

VIT University held its 27th Annual Convocation on July 28, 2012 and felicitated
4,311 PG, PhD and MPhil scholars. The ceremony was presided over by VIT
Chancellor, Dr. G. Viswanathan with Prof M S Swaminathan as the chief guest. While
Prof Swaminathan emphasised on the importance on agro-business and technology-driven
agro-employment, Dr. G. Viswanathan pointed at the plagues of Indian higher
education and shared some compelling solutions. He pointed out that affordable
education to the students is the need of the hour.

In
his address, Dr.G.Viswanathan said, “India must create enough universities
to accommodate all students who would like to study. If there is vacancy, students
from other states and other countries can be admitted. They must also reduce
the cost of education. We require more investment in higher education.” He
also emphasised on the importance of minimise the controls of all regulatory
bodies. “Private universities should be allowed without restriction and
present private universities should be allowed to expand. In the last three
years not a single private university has been allowed in the private sector
under the Central Government,” he said.

While pointing out at the dearth of the number of institute of higher education
in the country, he said “As a country, our access to higher education is
at a meager 15 per cent, even with the expansion of private and government
institutes,” he said. Adding to the woes of the country is also an acute
shortage of qualified doctors and nurses, said the chancellor. He said,
“We require 12 lakh doctors and 36 lakh nurses to satisfy WHO norms. However,
we have only 5.5 lakh doctors and four lakh nurses. As far as seats are
concerned, at present we have 42,000 MBBS seats that will reach 45,000 in the
coming year. This, in contrast to government of India’s target of 80,000 seats
by 2021.”

The chancellor also compared the admittance rate between India and China. He said
that while in China eight lakh students are admitted in medicine India only
admits 42,000. “We only equal China in engineering and admit 12 lakh students
each year. Only in Engineering we equal China. Both the countries admit about
12 lakh students a year. The demand for engineering is very much on the
rise,” he said. It was stated that this year AIEEE saw 11 lakh aspirants
for just 35,000 seats. “Even in leading states such as Tamil Nadu and
Maharashtra there are shortages in many professional courses for
instance agriculture, veterinary, law, dental and nursing to name a few,” pointed
Dr. Viswanathan.

In his address he raised the issues of accommodation of students who score
between 75 per cent and 90 per cent. “There is a fixed formula to distribute
seats in higher education. Those who secured a minimum of 95 per cent were
admitted in any college of their choice, whereas in engineering colleges it goes down to 70 per cent. In other courses, the cut-off stops at 90
per cent. So how to you accommodate the higher education ambitions of those who
secured between 75 per cent and 90 per cent,” he said. He insisted that
such expectations could lead to mental tension for the students and the parents as well as fan malpractices.

He pointed at the gross hypocrisy in the society. “To ration scarce
commodities like, rice, wheat, sugar and kerosene we do not make use of
religion or caste. Unfortunately we have been adopting caste and religion as
criteria for reservation in educational institutions. We have 3,000 major
castes and 25,000 sub-castes in our country. In Tamil Nadu alone we have 183
castes under BC&MBC / 112 castes under SC&ST,” he said.

The address also mentioned that larger financial assistance from Central and State
Governments for poor and middle class students was imperative. “India has
the potential to become a leader in Higher Education. Competition among universities
and colleges will bring down the cost and improve quality. Recognition and rewarding quality institutions at State and National level every
year will create healthy competition and improve quality. We should also
encourage masters and PhD students to solve teacher shortage. And we must
attract more foreign students to come and study after exhausting the Indian
students,” concluded Dr. G.Viswanathan.

IER Staff

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