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JNU to start tech courses

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a JNU proposal to start engineering and management courses, drawing criticism from several faculty members who feared such "industry and job-oriented" programmes would dilute the varsity's mandate to promote critical thinking.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 28.10.17
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New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved a JNU proposal to start engineering and management courses, drawing criticism from several faculty members who feared such "industry and job-oriented" programmes would dilute the varsity's mandate to promote critical thinking.

Vice-chancellor M. Jagadesh Kumar told a campus event on Friday the programmes were part of JNU's expansion plans but did not specify whether the approval was for undergraduate or post-graduate engineering and management courses.

"The UGC has agreed to fund both schools of engineering and management. The details are yet to be worked out," registrar Pramod Kumar said.

Another senior JNU official said the proposals would be taken up at a meeting of the academic council in December, after which it would be placed for final approval before the executive council, the varsity's top body.

"Schools in engineering and management will bring diversity to the university, which has remained a centre of advanced studies in areas of humanities," the official said.

The plan, however, comes at a time of a glut. According to All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), up to 50 per cent seats in BTech and post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM) have been vacant.

Of the 15.56 lakh approved BTech seats in 3,290 engineering colleges across the country, 7.75 lakh (49.8 per cent) remained vacant in 2016-17. The AICTE has been ordering closure of nearly 200 BTech colleges every year because of poor enrolment. Of 81,000 PGDM seats, 37,000 (45 per cent) did not find any takers.

At least two JNU teachers expressed reservations about the expansion, saying the new courses would change the "basic character of JNU" steeped in social justice and democratic values.

"Creating people with critical thinking has been the mandate of JNU. This will be at stake when it diversifies by starting industry-oriented and job-oriented technology courses," a senior faculty member said.

Former JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) president Ajay Patnaik said the proposed technology and management schools should not have under-graduate courses. "JNU is known as a research institution. Only the School of Languages provides some under-graduate courses in foreign languages as no other university does so."

Also, there are plenty of under-graduate engineering institutions, Patnaik pointed out and said the proposed centres should focus on new areas and offer only post-graduate and advanced courses. "IIT is a high-profile engineering institution. If JNU starts the same under-graduate courses, it will dilute JNU's character."