The Aligarh Muslim University is trying to make itself compatible with the changing times and needs of the society despite resentment from within.
Vice-chancellor PK Abdul Azis is keen that the institution joins the ranks of the best in the field of education.
The vice chancellor told the IANS that a proposal to open five new centres of the university to give it an identifiable all-India character is awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD), while four examinations centres have started functioning this year.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has also given Rs.70 million to the university's technical college, the Zakir Hussain College of Engineering and Technology (ZHCET), to upgrade it to the level of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
The money, according to university officials, will give a fillip to the university's initiatives.
M.T. Ahmad, principal, ZHCET, said the HRD ministry has identified the college as one of the seven institutions to be upgraded into an IIT.
The university hopes that its project to upgrade ZHCET will resume as soon as the ministry and the University Grants Commission resume funding under the 11th Plan.
The university has set up four new centres to conduct entrance examinations across the country to give it a pan-India status. The move, though welcomed by almost everybody, was opposed by a section of teachers who alleged that they were not taken into confidence.
The vice-chancellor will meet the teachers March 16 to discuss the initiatives. He denied allegations by some teachers that the university was not following standard democratic procedures to arrive at policy decisions.
"Many teachers feel that the new centres will dilute the hold of the academic community and perhaps lower the prestige of the university," said a leader of the teaching staff.
Early January, the executive council of AMU decided to start four admission test centres at Bhopal, Kolkata, Kozhikode and Pune.
The vice-chancellor appointed four committees comprising deans of faculties, members of the executive council and senior teachers of the university to visit these centres to assess the facilities available, security measures to be adopted and ascertain the reputation of institutions where admission tests were to be conducted.
The university management said at that time that the initiative was aimed at attracting meritorious students to AMU and to strengthen its all-India character.
But most of the teachers do not seem to be in favour of this decentralisation process. "The teachers would be at the mercy of the management and the inconvenient ones would be transferred from one place to the other," a section of the teachers feared.
Mustafa Zaidi, one of the leaders of the teaching community, told IANS: "We are not opposed to changes or initiatives per se, but we would like democratic procedures followed in letter and spirit. The AMU has a well laid out democratic system, the decisions on policy matters have to go from bottom to top and in the process everyone is involved."
The AMU before Abdul Azis took over a year ago had seen a longish spell of turmoil and chaos, with crime rate shooting up.
Last year, the university was closed sine die after the murder of a student and boarders were told to vacate their hostels. It opened after two months and the break took its toll on studies.
The university has witnessed sporadic protests by students over the last decade.
However, in recent months the university has not only limped back on rails but there has been a spurt in activities including conferences, seminars and a staggered exercise to restructure the university system to give it a modern look.