UGC should fund private varsities

HYDERABAD: Dr G Viswanathan, founder-chancellor of VIT University and former MP, says private universities hardly get any financial support from the government.
Despite multiple applications, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has not sanctioned any funds for research at VIT so far, he notes. Here are excerpts of an interview he gave to Express:

Union HRD Ministry plans to usher in a new education policy next year. As an academician, what kind of reforms do you expect?

The policy should address fundamental issues in the education sector. The entire system lacks transparency. This is where the new policy should focus. Other key areas that need attention are infrastructure and teacher-student ratio. The government should improve the school education system. If that happens, the standards of higher education will go up automatically.

Poor teaching quality is a major challenge now. What needs to be done to overcome it?

We need strong teacher training programmes. There should be standard courses in universities to train teachers in advanced methods. Central universities and national institutes should also introduce teacher training courses. Recently, the B.Ed course duration has been increased from one year to two years. It is a welcome move. I hope it will deliver good results.

Indian universities hardly figured in the top 200 global rankings announced recently. When can we see our institutes in top 10 or 20?

Our institutes are not even competing with international universities. There are more internal issues in our system which need to be addressed immediately. To feature in the top list, universities must focus on research, academic collaborations and foreign student exchange programmes.

Does VIT has any plan to expand to other states?

Our two campuses are in Tamil Nadu but we plan to set up campuses in other states too. We have an invitation from Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka has passed the private university bill. We plan to set up a campus there too.

Do you intend to increase the intake of students next year?

There is no such proposal at the moment. But we are expecting a hike in the number of applications. We received more than 2,02,000 applications last year. We are expecting more now.