‘Thane sub-centre could become varsity in 20 yrs’

Right now, it is just a barren six-acre plot, but if all goes well, the Mumbai University’s campus at Thane might become a landmark for the entire district.
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Updated on May 10, 2011 02:13 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByKiran Wadhwa, Mumbai

Right now, it is just a barren six-acre plot, but if all goes well, the Mumbai University’s campus at Thane might become a landmark for the entire district.

An expert committee appointed by the university submitted its recommendation report — Thane Campus: A Vision — last week to the university. The report states that the campus has the potential of becoming a full-fledged university in the next two decades. It also recommends that the extended campus of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), the university’s most reputed management institute, be housed in the Thane campus.

Inspired by the idea, the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation has offered Mumbai University 100 acres of land for a sub-centre in their region.

Unlike the varsity sub-centre in Ratnagiri, where only administrative work is carried out, the report envisages the Thane campus of the University of Mumbai (TCUM) as an independent, self-sustaining higher education establishment with a focus on research.

“The report has been prepared after studying the demographics of the area, the local need and the aspiration for international standards. The Thane campus will be an independent campus with sub-centres in Kalyan (the land has already been acquired) and Vasai,” said Dinesh Panjwani, principal, National College and part of the five-member expert committee. The report is yet to be passed by the university governing bodies.

The Thane campus is essential because of the five districts that fall under the university’s purview. Thane is the second largest district after Mumbai in terms of population, area and number of affiliated colleges.

Thane also poses a new set of challenges for the university. For instance, 51.75% of the total work force in the area is engaged in agricultural and allied activities. Another issue is the district’s dropout rate. While enrollment in Thane’s 4,542 primary schools is 9.9 lakh, the highest in the state, this number falls to 5.93 lakh at the secondary and higher secondary level. On an average, almost five lakh children drop out every year at various levels of primary and higher education.

To counter these issues, the committee has suggested the formation of inclusive distance education graduate courses such as BA (vocational), BCom (vocational) and a BSc (vocational) to accommodate dropouts. Apart from a degree, the course will also equip them with skills.

The road map also plans for an ethno research centre that will involve interdisciplinary research on ethnic culture, environment and natural resources. It looks at integrated graduate and post-graduate courses.

The report proposes that the administrative functioning of the centre begin this academic year in June.

“With right planning and efforts, the campus could become a landmark and a prestige symbol for the residents of Thane,” said Naresh Chandra, principal of Birla College, Kalyan and a member of the committee.

“Several people such as MLAs, industrial houses and college managements have shown interest in the centre. The committee is fixing meetings with them,” said Dinesh Kamble, secretary of the committee.

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