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‘Some states have common varsity’

- ASTU director allays students’ fears, urge them to cooperate

A day after students of Assam Engineering College (AEC) protested in front of the Assam Science and Technology University, Guwahati, against Dispur’s move to bring all private and government engineering institutes under it, director of the university Pradyut Kumar Goswami on Thursday allayed apprehensions of the students and urged them to cooperate to fulfil the mission of the university.

Excerpts from Goswami’s interview with Rajiv Konwar of The Telegraph

The Telegraph: AEC students alleged that you do not have enough infrastructure to function smoothly.

Pradyut Kumar Goswami: Our permanent building on the campus of AEC on a plot of 10 bighas of land will be ready by December. At Hatigaon (in Guwahati), we have rented three apartments only to conduct the examinations of the already affiliated colleges till the permanent one is ready. Our job is to conduct only examinations for which we have enough officials, including controller of examination, deputy controller of examination and academic registrar.

Besides conducting examinations, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University run various courses which means their strength of manpower and number of buildings are more than ours.

TT: How will engineering education improve if all engineering institutes are brought under ASTU?

PKG: Earlier, different engineering institutes in Assam followed different syllabi prescribed by DU and GU. The ASTU will bring them under a common course. Many states in the country have a common university for technical education.

TT: The students say you are not ready with syllabi.

PKG: We have uploaded syllabi till fourth semester on our website. I have asked our officials to upload the syllabi of the other semesters that we have completed so far.

Our academic council prepared the syllabi of other semesters. We also employed professors of IIT Guwahati and retired professors of AEC and Jorhat Engineering College (JEC). If the affiliation of the government colleges is completed, their principals and some teachers will automatically become members of our academic council and become a part of syllabus-making process.

We want to make the syllabi of 7th and 8th semesters GATE-oriented. We have prepared their basis structure. AEC and JEC have many senior teachers whose expertise we want to use here.

TT: A principal of a government engineering institute said they did not apply for affiliation under ASTU but you have announced that they will function under your university from this academic session.

PKG: According to Assam Science and Technology University Act, 2009, government institutes need not apply separately for affiliation. A government directive is enough for it. They just need to send us some data about their colleges. We have requested them to send those data and waiting for answers. We did not say that their affiliation process is over. We just said the process was under way.

Dispur has sent a letter, dated July 23, 2014, to all government engineering institutes on the issue. It said: “The higher education department is pleased to allow Assam Science and Technology University, Guwahati to take necessary action for affiliation of the government engineering colleges/institutions in the state in addition to the already affiliated private institutions from the academic session 2014-15.”

The letter requested the director of technical education “to take necessary action under the Assam Science and Technology University Act, 2009, to ensure affiliation of the government engineering colleges under ASTU from the academic session 2014-15”.

We are hopeful they will respond to our request to complete the affiliation process.

TT: What do you say on the apprehension of the students that their fee will increase?

PKG: We do not collect tuition fees. It is collected by the respective institutes whether private or government. We only collect examination fees, which will be even lower than that of GU.

TT: AEC students feared that reputation of their college will go down if it is brought under the same syllabus or university with the private institutions.

PKG: Some private institutions were affiliated to Gauhati University, the university AEC is affiliated with. Why didn’t the students oppose while these institutes took affiliation from GU? They should cooperate with us and fulfil the mission of ASTU.