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OU students still apples of corporates' eye

OU students still apples of corporates
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Varsity lineage with Telangana agitation is a bygone image: OU VC For the last two years, the academic years went on smoothly. Agitations by...

Varsity lineage with Telangana agitation is a bygone image: OU VC For the last two years, the academic years went on smoothly. Agitations by students is a bygone episode, for sure - Prof. S Satyanarayana. ou'University with Potential for Excellence (UPE) status by University Grants Commission (UGC) to Osmania University (OU) is the new feather in its cap. Though it has bagged the coveted status as one of the six universities in XI plan, OU has been frequently in the news for wrong reasons. In an interview to HMTV on Wednesday, Vice-Chancellor of OU, Prof S Satyanarayana, clears the air about many controversies. Osmania University Teachers Association (OUTA) president B Satyanarayana (BS) also joined him in the debate. Excerpts:
OU, which is still one of the best universities in India, has been caught in controversies. What is your comment?
VC: OU has not only been elevated to UPE status, but has also emerged as the second university after Banaras Hindu University among the top six universities in India. Outdoing central universities is not a small achievement. The main prerequisite for applying for UPE status is that the university should have some departments for CAS (Centre for Advanced Studies), at least four to five Sap Departments and DRS Departments. 34 universities were eligible to apply, of which 10 were shortlisted and six were selected. OU bagged the second position. We also ranked sixth among the top 10 universities in India, according to a survey by national magazine India Today with Nielson. About 160 universities were included in the survey and 337 experts across the country ranked 50 universities on various parameters - reputation of the university, quality of the academic input, student care, infrastructure, job prospects, faculty, research publications, innovation and governance, and admission procedure. So, the controversies you are referring to are common and are being tackled effectively. BS: Disturbances caused by movements and agitations like separate Telangana were the reasons for the intermittent chaos in the campus. VC: Telangana agitation is no longer a problem as the agitations were confined to some of student-leaders only and majority of the students are not participating in the rallies. The last two academic years went on smoothly. It's a bygone episode, for sure. Otherwise, OU could not have been conferred with the UPE status.
Movements indicate the spirit of the students. How can they be termed disturbances? How is your rapport with student leaders? What are the steps taken against those who manhandled the faculty members?
ou1VC: The relation with student leaders are absolutely good. They are also my students, isn't it? I have taken action in all possible manner including suspending those who manhandled the professor during the row on Ph D admissions. BS: The responsibilities of a VC are not merely confined to campuses; he also has to look after the PG centres and Constituent colleges of OU which are outside the campus. Non-boarders in the hostels are also adding new problems in the campus.
How did you tackle this issue?
VC: Being an open campus, OU is more vulnerable to the problem of non-boarders. In spite of strict vigilance, there are outsiders living in the campus hostels. After the present examinations, we will conduct a special drive to flush them out. Has OU also been affected severely by land encroachments, as it has been alleged?
VC: There are no such encroachments I know of. Keeping the importance of the university in view, land was allocated to important educational institutes like CIEFL and to amenities like petrol bunk, etc. They are allocations, not encroachments. It has been alleged that staff crunch in OU has affected quality of education. What is the status of the faculty?
VC: Yes! There is a shortage of faculty. The actual requirement is 1,230. But, the budgetary limitations do not permit us to go for full drive. Already 630 faculty members are working and we have released a notification for filling 230 vacancies. I will ensure that we hire at least 100 more faculty in my tenure. BS: Though the staff members are 630, we have to count it only as 570, as the rest will be on leaves in rotation. The VC concentrated on fund-mobilisation, not on other factors that contribute to the qualitative progress of the university.
Is OU facing fund shortage? What is its budget? How does OU suffer financially? If excess staff is appointed, how would the new burden be shared by funding agencies?
VC: Since OU is a State university, the State government is the funding authority. The budget deficit of present financial year is nearly Rs 42 crore. Apart from the block grant of Rs 170 crore given by the State government, we have to mobilise the funds from our internal resources. After UPE status, OU would get Rs 50 crore additionally over a period of five years from UGC. Unlike the central universities, we have to procure the funds for the payment of pensions and other expenditure. A major portion of the revenue would be spent on salaries and pensionary benefits of employees and considerable percentage is spent on contingencies and loans to employees.
Amidst fund crunch, how did OU manage to introduce new courses? What about placements?
VC: M Sc (Computational Geophysics), M Sc (Nanoscience), M Sc (Pharmaco Informatics), M. Pharm and PG Diploma in Radiological Physics are a few of the new courses introduced in OU. The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) introduced in PG courses at Campus and Constituent colleges of OU has received overwhelming support. CBCS was dynamic and reflected the University's willingness to adapt to changes and offer more variety for the students. The research pursuits at the Univeristy are wide ranging, inter-disciplinary and of a high order. All the University Departments and as many as 23 specialised research centres have been performing exceedingly well in this arena. Besides the project based work, research is also pursued through M Phil and Ph D programmes in 27 and 54 disciplines respectively. With the new measures being adapted, corporate companies are eyeing OU students. The myth that OU's image has taken a beating due to Telangana agitation is shattered and recession has also faded away. Several corporates have evinced interest in hiring our students.
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