Six things to put Osmania University in top 10 league

Six things to put Osmania University in top 10 league
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All of us who expected big ticket measures to put Osmania University (OU) in big league on its centenary year are clearly disappointed. Efforts are underway to celebrate the centenary on a grand scale and there are plans to construct some new buildings and new centres. The government has sanctioned Rs 200 crore and released Rs 55 crore for the opening celebrations from April 26, Wednesday.

All of us who expected big ticket measures to put Osmania University (OU) in big league on its centenary year are clearly disappointed. Efforts are underway to celebrate the centenary on a grand scale and there are plans to construct some new buildings and new centres. The government has sanctioned Rs 200 crore and released Rs 55 crore for the opening celebrations from April 26, Wednesday.

Of course, all the main buildings are coloured, roads blacktopped, colleges spruced up, students, and faculty and staff are in festive mood. That’s good, but not enough. There is a need to realise the dream of its founder, the Seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, of making OU as the world class university with excellence in all fields.

Alas, OU just figured at 23rd in the recently released universities rankings by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), a newly created wing of Ministry HRD in the Union government. Many other varsities founded much later – Jadavpur University, 1955, got 5th rank, Anna University, 1978, bagged 6th rank and even University of Hyderabad, 1975, scored 7th rank.

Even private universities like Amrita Viswa Vidyapeetham, also called Amrita University, founded in 2003 stood at 9th rank and Manipal University, started in 1963 shined at 18th rank, but OU had to put with 23rd rank. Old universities like Banaras Hindu University, 1916, and Aligarh Muslim University, 1920, were much better at the top with 3rd and 11th ranks respectively.

But, why OU when it is second to any of the above universities should be contended with a poor ranking? Why cannot we take it to the top 10 universities or for that matter top five in the country? The real celebration of its centenary should mark the resolve to put OU among the top five best universities in India, if not to put in the list of best varsities in the world.

Here I come up with six things which can make OU stand in the league of best of the universities in India, based on my conversations with many senior professors in the university, including the vice-chancellors, principals of autonomous colleges in recent days. Hope the State and Central governments would pay attention to these things.

First is to liberalise the academic and administrative culture in OU. Making colleges autonomous is not enough, but allow them to function on their own norms, so that they attract the best of students from far and wide. Second, encourage research culture in every department and grant funds to promote research projects with long-term goals, so that they figure in the world’s best journals.

Third, not just natural sciences and engineering, but also social sciences and humanities should be given prominence in hiring the best faculty from across the world, and of course, India. After all, university is not a glorified degree college or an engineering college. Remember the way the Nizam invited the best of talent when he founded the varsity.

Fourth, fill up all the vacancies in teaching and non-teaching posts. The salaries and perks of faculty should be linked to their performance in classroom or in research projects, not just linked to their seniority. Students should be allowed to give feedback to their teachers so that the best of them would be rewarded.

Fifth is to expose the university to the world’s best varsities through Internet and social media. Sad enough, most of the departments, mostly in arts and humanities, have no exposure to what’s happening in their respective departments in the world’s best institutions. This is not a big deal in today as the world is linked through digital revolution. Only will power is needed.

Sixth and the last is to clean up functioning of the VC office as well as various departments. Make it mandatory to complete all PhDs within fixed timeframe and make it compulsory semester system in all courses. I hope both CM KCR and HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar would apply their minds and hearts to make OU great again.

By Rama Krishna Sangem

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