As Panjab University celebrates its 65th foundation day in India on October 20, the former alumnus and now the vice-chancellor, Prof Arun Grover, has his hands full. He said that since it had been only three months since he took over as the VC, he was still settling down.
Grover said that since it had been only three months since he took over as the VC, he was still settling down.
He said the university needed to improve the quality of research work.
He, however, preferred to remain silent on the issues marring the varsity development, be it the shortage of faculty, vacant chairs or the state of professional departments like UIAMS, UIET etc.
Grover also refrained to comment on the recent controversy over his wife's appointment to the PU's music department by the PU syndicate.
All he had to say was, "Since the media wants juicy reports, they went after the issue."
Here follows the comprehensive interview with the vice-chancellor.
You have been an alumnus, and now you are the VC of this university. What is your vision for the varsity as it completes 65 years in India?
The university has come a long way in its journey of 65 years, and my vision is no different from that of my contemporaries, who too want this varsity to achieve great heights. We are at 383rd position among different varsities in the world, and we want to improve it further. In India, our main competitors are Central University in Hyderabad and Delhi University. We are on our way and will soon become the no. 1 university in the country.
What is your take on the shortage of faculty in the varsity and vacant chairs, which have not been filled for long?
It is an administrative question, and I would not be able to comment on the issue. All I can say is that we are working on this and soon thing would be taken care of.
How do you plan to tackle the growing shortage of faculty in the varsity?
We have been discussing this issue for quite some time now. We are thinking in terms of sharing our faculty. For example, since the Home Science College is short on staff, we will not mind sending staff from the varsity. I think the sharing system will work till we find a permanent solution to this problem.
Where do you place the PU on research work as compared to other universities?
As far as research work is concerned the varsity still has a long way to go. It is definitely a matter of concern, and we are working on various options to improve in this field. We are working on a proposal in which college faculty will be allowed to act as guides. We are in the process of finalising this proposal.
How do you rate the professional departments like UIAMS, UIET etc?
According to a survey conducted by a magazine, the UIET is ahead of Punjab Engineering College, and I am proud of that. These departments are not that old, and yet are trying their best to come up to a level. Soon, we shall have them at par with other professional departments in India.
As Panjab University celebrates its 65 years of existence, HT spoke to those associated with the varsity.
Prof Jitendra Mohan (Emeritus)
Panjab University has come a long, long way in the last 65 years, and it has still a long way to go. The varsity should have involved everyone in the foundation day celebrations, be it students or teachers. Of course, there are a lot of issues, which need to be taken care of at urgent basis. One should not forget the very idea of setting up a university, which is: to cast out ignorance and spread knowledge.
VK Anand, former librarian
The PU is my alma mater and I owe a lot to it. One of its major problems is its over-centralised administrative system. Authority needs to be delegated so that it doesn't take an eternity to take day-to-day decisions. All those who are associated with the varsity should understand that they are working for a collective cause, and not get caught in individualism or groupism.
Prof RD Anand, PU alumnus and former senator
I have been associated with the university since my childhood. Those managing the varsity then had a different vision altogether. They welcomed new ideas whomever they came from. In the last decade or so, the academic quality has gone down considerably. Though we have built lots of new buildings, what concerns me more is what is going inside them.
Ashok Goyal, PU senator
Academics is the basis of any good university and for that we need to have appropriate staff and infrastructure. An imbalance between the two is not helpful. There are several issues, which need to be dealt with urgently. To become a world-class university, we need a broad vision, and human values need to given the first priority.
Prof Manjit Singh, PU faculty and PUTA member
I believe the commercialisation of educational institutions is the biggest problem our education system is facing presently. One of the major challenges that the PU faces right now is its faulty administrative set up, which needs to be overhauled. Rather than facilitating the working of the varsity, it has become a burden. It is high time the varsity does something to sort out this issue.
Five major challenges
Find a solution to the shortage of faculty, which is marring almost all departments in the university
Improve the quality of education in its affiliated colleges, which are being given step-motherly treatment.
Find ways and means to improve the quality of research work, which the VC admits needs lot of improvement
Need to find a better and more rewarding placement system, especially in the professional departments.
Improving basic infrastructure, especially providing hostel facility to students.