Prof Prasant Kumar Sahoo provides his views on the educational initiatives being undertaken by the Utkal University. In conversation with Nayana Singh
What is your vision for Utkal University?
The Utkal University, established in the year 1943, is the 17th oldest University in India. My basic purpose is to ensure that the University is providing education of good quality. There has to be perfect discipline among the teachers, students and the employees.
According to you what are the core strengths of the University?
The University is home to 27 regular departments and 23 self-financed programmes. The campus is spread across 400 acres of land. We also have 357 affiliated colleges under Utkal University. At present the University has 27 Post-Graduate teaching and research departments located within the campus and three constituent Institutions, viz Directorate of Distance and Continuing Education, University Law College at Vani Vihar and M S Law College at Cuttack. Besides the regular courses, 26 sponsored courses are offered under the direct academic control of the P.G. Council of the University.
When we compare Odisha with other states in the country, it is still lagging behind some of the other states like Maharashtra and Karnataka in the matter of investments. When it comes to education how do the students in Odisha compare with their counterparts in other states.
Our students are not only competing in the national level, they are also competing in the international level. Many bright students from Odisha are doing well in JNU and Delhi University. Students are also doing well in IITs and IIMs.
Are you using ICT for making the systems for education at the Utkal University more effective?
Application of ICT is must. Otherwise you will be outdated and cannot compete with national and international level. Therefore, we are taking steps to include ICT in every sphere of our operations. Very shortly we are going to introduce choice-based study system as per the guidelines of UGC in both postgraduate departments and affiliated colleges. This will lead to an enhancement of the quality of education at the University. As we want to maintain ethical practices and transparency in every sphere, we are promoting the usage of ICT.
How are you ensuring that syllabus is updated every year?
We have been taking steps for restructuring our curriculum. As a part of that we have introduced choice-based credit system and therefore, we have organised two seminars. In one seminar, all the teachers came and restructured the curriculum as per the needs of the industry and nation and another two-day seminar for principals of 357 colleges. Therefore, we have taken steps for restructuring and designing of the curriculum. On February 20, we are going to pass it in the Academic Council. Once it is passed, we will introduce it in 2013.
How do you ensure that the students that come out of the University are well groomed to adjust to the industry needs?
It has to be first found out what is the national and global need and accordingly the curriculum will be shaped. And I always say that the curriculum should be always restructured according to the need of the state, industry and country.
Are you facing any challenges in your functioning and do you need more support from the government?
Definitely, we need support from the government. Now we have more than 100 faculty posts lying vacant and we need government approval to fill up the post. As it is a state university, financed by the state government, therefore, in any sphere, be it finance or academics, we need government support.
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