Andhra University has been inching closer towards finding a place in the list of ‘Institutes of Eminence’ as it has now been shortlisted among the top-15 institutions under the category of public universities. The University Grants Commission (UGC) will select 10 government educational institutions from across the country under the scheme to award a financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore to each institute over a five year period.
About 110 varsities/institutions have applied for the scheme. These include 12 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), including Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee, Kanpur, Bombay, Delhi, three first-generation Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) including Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Calcutta, other institutes of national significance, central and state varsities.
Earlier, Andhra University officials gave a power point presentation before an experts’ committee in New Delhi on their 15-year strategic plan (five years each) with quantified milestones and timelines. Proposals for the first five-year strategic plan would cost the varsity about Rs 1,080 crore.
Speaking to, vice chancellor of Andhra University, Prof G Nageswara Rao, said a team of officials from UGC will likely visit the varsity before announcing the results. “We are confident of getting the eminence tag. It will be useful for improving the infrastructure and research activities at the varsity,” said Prof Rao.
Experts have, however, criticised the UGC for applying the same yardstick to judge both conventional universities as well as well-structured/established IITs, IIMs and other institutes of national importance. They fear that IITs, IIMs, and others may bag all the 10 places due to their research output, infrastructure, credentials of their faculty, employment opportunities, kind of students joining these institutions, etc.
But, on the other hand, UGC’s norm of ‘the 10 selected institutions will be a mix of technical institutions, management and arts institutions and central universities’ might work in favor for Andhra University. According to Prof Rao, their 15-year strategic plan comprises academic and research plan, plan for teaching and research collaborations with globally-reputed varsities, infrastructure development plan, involvement of alumni, etc. This roadmap may tilt the scale in Andhra University’s favour.
UGC conceived this idea in order to implement the commitment made the government in its budget speech in 2016. The finance minister had said “it is our commitment to empowering Higher Educational institutions to help them become world-class teaching and research institutions. An enabling regulatory architecture will be provided to ten public and ten private institutions to emerge as world-class Teaching and Research Institutions. This will enhance affordable access to high-quality education for ordinary Indians.”