Expert Talk : AU Making Rapid Strides Despite Setbacks
Young Hans Team P rof G S N Raju, being the Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, is steering the university...
Young Hans Team
P rof G S N Raju, being the Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, is steering the university to new academic heights. Despite the crunching resources and faculty snag, he is trying to escalate the waning image of the university, to give boost to research activity and to introduce new courses to match the needs of the day. He further shares his ambitions during the Progress Debate in HMTV on Wednesday. Excerpts:
What are the major problems tarnishing the image of Andhra University? What would be the order of priority in addressing the problems? Highly reputed AU was established in 1926 and the colossus Dr Cattamanchi Ramalinga Reddy, being the first VC, augmented its stature. But, with severe funds crunch and acute shortage of faculty, AU has been under the weather. In spite of the unrelenting issues, we are ascending.
How much is the deficit? How to breathe life into the AU coffers? For the current financial year 2013- 14, AU has drawn up a budget of Rs 267 crore. The university needs Rs 215 crore just to pay salaries and pension. The number of AU-affiliated colleges too has fallen from around 600 around 5-6 years ago to around 237 colleges at present putting a squeeze on AU's resources.
Since how long the university has been suffering from deficit? When the university was established in 1926, the funds and grants came from private people. Today the corporates can step in.
Then, how to pin it down? We manage to raise around Rs 100 crore from various bodies affiliated to higher education like AICTE and UGC. But, the state government is not giving the required matching grant. After I took the reins, I am trying to generate resources by strengthening the alumni associations by setting an alumni cell in the university. While turning to our alumni and also corporates to tide over our yawning budget deficit, I am hoping to raise at least Rs. 37 crore.
How many faculty positions are to be filled up? There were 1200 faculty members. Now, after the retirements in various departments, the number reduced to 600. In fact, the salaries for the first five years to the new faculty members are paid by UGC; the state government should give assurance to the payment after 5 years. Since the state government is not assuring, the recruitments are halted.
With the shortage of faculty, how could you introduce new courses that cater to the demands of present globalised world? Many courses including Diploma in Photography and M Tech in five years after Intermediate, were introduced and being run successfully with temporary staff. AU is revered with five star status, as a university with multi-disciplinary courses. With a number of MoUs with national and international universities and institutions and with many linkage programmes, the AU is displaying its academic development. If permanent staff positions are given, we do wonders.
AU had also a renowned set of artistes, poets, as its alumni, besides alumni of science and professional courses including Sir CV Raman, Dr CS Rao etc. Now, what is the position of fine arts and humanities departments? In recent years, the students are shrewd enough to understand the importance of fine arts and humanities also. The science and professional departments can be funded by various agencies. However, in the case of economics, we depend heavily on self-financing courses such as MS Economics (integrated 5-year course). The problem lies with the humanities department.
Visakhapatnam is emerging to be a tourist destiny; particularly, a destiny to health tourism. What is the contribution of AU in this direction? In my tenure, AU initiated the drive against pollution and for clean environment by observing no-vehicle days in the campus. During the drive, all entry points into the campus are being closed for vehicles and those who come by vehicles had to park them outside the campus and walk to their department or office. Thus, AU, with its picturesque beauty and greenery, itself emerges to be a nice tourist destiny.