Dr R Radhakrishnan
Vice Chancellor, Anna University Coimbatore
We are introducing various new measures to increase enrollment ratio. We are first ones to introduce a three year B.Tech programme with direct entry. We also want to support vocational students, many of whom are poor and cannot afford education
What are the main challenges that confront India’s higher education today?
India’s higher education sector faces many challenges. These include low enrollment, memory-based teaching as opposed to a more engaging and creative learning process, excessive focus on degrees and lack of exposure to the emerging and latest trends in the field of education. These are the reason behind a high rejection rate of candidates by the industry, which is as high as 80% of the students, with only 20% finally getting jobs.
What are the new ways in which Anna University is using ICT to address similar challenges?
When a new engineering college comes up, one the first challenges one faces is the shortage of faculty. Considering this, we have introduced measures like connecting the colleges, using Internet, intranet, digital access to all and so on.
We have provided our students with an online question bank, interactive classrooms and quality education for which Anna University Coimbatore is now setting up a Technical Academic Staff College (TASC). We plan to invite eminent experts and academicians for faculty development programmes at TASC.
What do you think about the entry of private players in the higher education segment? Is there a need for stringent monitoring to enforce quality?
There should be a monitoring mechanism to keep a control over the private players. AICTE is the only statutary body which is responsible for keeping a quality at an all India level. Such bodies are required at the state level too.
Universities should be given a free hand and state government should also be involved in the monitoring mechanism. Just giving approval and maintaining standards is not sufficient. There are local issues which need to be addressed. The private players will have to meet the norms of the state government as well as the university.
What measures are underway and in pipeline to increase the enrollment ratio at the Anna University?
We are introducing various new measures to increase enrollment ratio. We are first ones to introduce a three year B.Tech programme with direct entry. We also want to support vocational students, many of whom are poor and cannot afford education. We plan to introduce a separate curriculum for the vocational students and are also introducing engineering in English and Tamil medium from this academic year.
How do you plan to increase enrollment from marginalised and rural areas?
Anna University has come up with the idea of starting engineering colleges with Public Private Partnership (PPP) under which a private player will be aiding the University by providing infrastructure to run the programme. Our University will look after curriculum and maintenance of the colleges.
The recurring expenditures will be met through fees collected from the students by the University. The private player will be given 20% donor seats and 80% of the seats will be kept for recurring expenditure. And 10% of the total seats will be free.
How do you plan to increase employability of those who graduate from the Anna University?
We are tying up with Sun Microsystems, CISCO and other leading key IT players to provide latest training in the curriculum itself. Therefore, the student gets trained in exactly what the industry needs, including foreign language training and soft skills.
Anna University is also the first to tie up with the University of Cambridge, and the Indian partner for the same is E-BEC (Business English Certificates). The way we outsource exams, we also outsource English language training. So Cambridge syllabus is being taught through E-BEC in many of our colleges. The examination is conducted by the University of Cambridge, which also gives an international certification.