‘DU is changing and is definitely an exciting place to be’
DU Vice-Chancellor Prof Deepak Pental admits that the time has again come to revise most undergraduate courses. Swaha Sahoo finds out more from the VC.india Updated: May 29, 2008 16:57 IST
What makes DU an exciting place to be?
The university is located in the Capital of India, thus making it a university for the whole country. It has a glorious past complemented by reasonable standards of education.
How has the undergraduate programme at DU evolved over the years?
Most of the UG courses that had stagnated over time have been revised. In fact the time has come to revise them again. We are also looking at e-learning to complement classroom teaching. We will be putting lectures on the Internet, along with course material. Another good thing is that colleges have begun offering professional short-term course to enhance students’ skills.
What changes are being made in methodology to make teaching more interesting?
We want to give each topic three treatments, the first being the regular teacher who teaches the topic from the textbook. This will be followed by e-learning material such as quizzes and question banks. The third is another lecture on the same topic by a teacher from another university so students are exposed to different perspectives.
There has been a dip in students opting for science course. Is DU doing anything to arrest this fall?
I think the trend is temporary. The government has launched a large number of schemes and scholarships to retain talent in science. At the university we have tied up with some of the best laboratories in India such as the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) and Laser Science and Technology Centre (LASTEC).
The best students across science subjects will get an opportunity to attend workshops here during summer every year. The labs in various colleges have received Rs 20 crore worth of equipment and every college has at least 40 computers and is connected. We realise that DU will require stronger IT infrastructure with much more bandwidth and we are working towards that.
Students should handle research and technology equally well in today’s world. In fact we have been taking too many students in Humanities, which has led to a decline in quality. We are looking at addressing that.
What trends have you noticed in undergraduate education in the last few years?
There has been a shift toward professional courses. In keeping with this trend, DU has tied up with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) for short-term professional courses in banking, retail, insurance, automobiles and medical transcription, among others. These are courses focused on skill orientation. We are also focusing on improving soft skills in students such as writing proficiency and communication skills. We will be developing material and organizing workshop for students in this regard.
What does DU offer in terms of sports infrastructure?
Most colleges have their playing fields and sports infrastructure. DU, being a venue for the Commonwealth Games, is supposed to get a lot of infrastructure (Seven rugby training fields, a multipurpose training hall for netball and boxing, an indoor hall as training venue for women’s wrestling, an outdoor track and field for training for athletics.).
Is anything being done to provide more accommodation for students?
We are building a second hostel for Northeast students and also for foreign students. Keeping in mind security issues, we are planning to develop a students’ village in Dhaka. This will ensure accommodation for most on-campus college students. Colleges located away from the campus can get help in building individual hostels.
How disabled-friendly is DU?
All the new buildings in the university are disabled-friendly. Some colleges have also taken an initiative to make their campus disabled-friendly. The problem with old buildings is infrastructure changes are difficult to make but we are trying.
What would you like to say to students aspiring to get into DU?
Students should try to excel in anything they do. They must also participate actively in the corporate life of their college, by participating in events. Most importantly, they must read something beyond their textbooks. Each student must invest in three to four books that will broaden their horizon. And they must take up some sort of physical exercise.