The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is poised to set up five countrywide campuses, which will take it beyond its birthplace.
This, sources said, signalled that the AMU was trying to reconcile its overzealous concerns about its minority status to the equally important need for growth.
Last year, the AMU had opened four admission test centres outside Aligarh, in spite of stiff resistance from a strong internal lobby. This lobby felt test centres elsewhere could pave the way for more non-Muslims to enter the institution, diluting the AMU’s minority character, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
All sections of AMU management — the AMU court, executive council and academic council — have for the first time unanimously agreed on the proposal to open new centres.
“It’s a historic initiative,” vice-chancellor P.K. Abdul Azis told HT. Reader Arshi Khan, an elected member of the academic council, said: “The university feels that it should seize the UPA government’s allocations for minority institutions.”
However, faculty members like Khan still feel that the expanding university should exercise “precautions” to protect its character. “In whatever we do, our identity needs to be protected.”
A section of AMU’s management has been opposing new academic initiatives, citing the ongoing Supreme Court case. “This section feels we should not capitalise on growth at the expense of AMU’s minority identity,” a faculty member said.
The AMU, he said, aspired to be a secular institution, and yet retain its minority status. It proportionately has more non-Muslims than Benaras Hindu University has Muslim students.
The AMU was founded by Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan in 1875 to serve as India’s first centre of western higher education for Muslims, with instruction in English.