University of Madras vice chancellor G Thiruvasagam on Wednesday unveiled a slew of proposed social initiatives aimed at expanding access to higher education to the underprivileged and those living in rural areas. Taking into account that many rural students dropped out of higher education since they were unable to afford hostel fees in the city, the university has decided to encourage setting up of arts and science colleges in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts by exempting them from paying the affiliation fee, inspection fee and other attendant charges. The vice chancellor would shortly meet administrators and principals of private colleges to urge them to provide free education including boarding and lodging for at least 10 students in an institutions. The university will offer a free seat to one student in each of its 60 postgraduate departments.
The university will establish a centre for basic sciences development named after doyen A Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar, the first post-Independence vice chancellor of the university who served in the capacity for 27 years. The centre, for which INR 10 lakh will be earmarked in the initial phase, will be administered by a team of five senior professors and five representatives each from the industry, colleges, and the student community. Every month a Young Scientist Award will be presented to an innovator at the centre. To attract students to basic sciences, the university will launch inter-disciplinary courses and create a separate board of studies for innovative and inter-disciplinary courses. The university will also set up two corpus funds one with INR 10 lakh to help poor research scholars go abroad for presenting papers and attending conferences and another with INR 50 lakh to launch an Earn While You Learn' scheme for students hailing from economically and socially weaker sections.