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DU-foreign univs pacts soon

'DU may sign pacts with British, German univs'

india Updated: Jun 10, 2006 03:29 IST

While citing stiff competition from foreign universities as a catalyst for higher standards, Delhi University Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental feels that other Indian universities should also increase seats to accommodate undergraduate students. Pental feels there is no dearth of academic talent and given infrastructural support, DU can easily compete with the best in the world. In conversation with MeenalDubey.

Every year, 1.2 lakh students from Delhi schools clear Class XII boards and cannot be accommodated in 43,000 DU seats. Are you planning to increase seats in the future?

We will have to increase number of seats eventually. But other universities like JNU, which has an excellent profile, should also be considered. JNU has excellent faulty, scientists, research scholars and ambience. In the existing system in our country, the model of post-graduate education is not affordable. We need to focus more on undergraduate students. For increasing seats, proper resources are required and the Human Resource Development Ministry needs to look in the matter. However, quality should not be compromised, at any cost.

The IITs offer courses in subjects like biotechnology at undergraduate level. Why not DU?

To do this, technology and social awareness need to go hand in hand. The greatest tragedy of Indian education system is the presence of two independent streams of social and pure sciences (controlled by the UGC) and engineering (controlled by the AICTE). We need to bridge the gap between these streams. We have suggested to the ministry to create avenues for students in science so that they can move on to technology and vice versa. Undergraduate courses like Nuclear Physics, Nuclear Technology and Microelectronics should be introduced with the requirement that students have a sound background in science and technology, so that they can carry the process of innovation further.

If foreign universities make a foray into education, where will DU stand?

Undoubtedly, there will be stiff competition, but we welcome it. This will also be a catalyst into taking DU further to meet international standards. As long as these foreign universities do not become profit-making ventures in India, it will be a good thing for the Indian education system.

How will you bring DU at par with other international universities?

In the last five years, almost all undergraduate courses have been revised. The government has given us a grant of 40 crore and we will utilise 20 crore for undergraduate students, refurbishment of science labs and other changes. We have also introduced examination, administrative and technology reforms such as bringing all colleges online. Besides, we need to look seriously at aforementioned courses. This can only be done if foundation in science and technology is made stronger.  We may not upgrade DU to international levels immediately but that is our long-term goal.

What are the challenges before DU?

The challenges before us are three-fold. To begin with, we need to make distance learning more accessible for students and provide world-class facilities. At present 2 lakh students are availing of this facility. We aim to go global and attract students from other countries too. For this, an interactive session with the teachers is necessary. We need contribution from Indian academicians not only within the university but from outside as well. A healthy participation from the corporate sector is also required. The government should provide scholarships for research students in science and technology, management and economics. This will strengthen Delhi University and attract talented students. 

Will DU sign any MOUs with foreign universities? What are your comments on the new trend of short-term courses?

We are hoping for a proposal this year with regard to certain universities in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. In this context, areas like science and technology and social sciences are of prime significance. As far as short-term courses are concerned, their basic purpose is to introduce students to a certain field and provide employment opportunities that are the need of the hour. These are stepping-stones for students from where they can move into specialisations in their area of interest.