Plans in education

Published : Mar 27, 2009 00:00 IST

Anna University-Coimbatore has come up with a programme for working people to enable them to obtain higher qualifications.-M. PERIASAMY

Anna University-Coimbatore has come up with a programme for working people to enable them to obtain higher qualifications.-M. PERIASAMY

THE decline in the number of students joining arts and basic science courses in colleges is worrying educationists in Tamil Nadu.

The trend prompted the University Grants Commission and the Academic Staff College of Bharathiar University to organise a workshop on Introduction of new and innovative programmes on February 14 to discuss how to attract students to arts and science courses.

G. Thiruvasagam, Vice-Chancellor, Bharathiar University, said: We are in trouble because of the craze for engineering courses. He asked the managements of private arts and science colleges to frame their own syllabuses based on their requirements, instead of the university prescribing the syllabus. The universitys Board of Studies will moderate the syllabus if need be, he said.

What troubled C.R. Swaminathan, chief executive, PSG Institutions, was that students are ignorant about the potential of pure science courses. For instance, statistics did not have many takers although it finds application in management courses too. You need a statistical mind to analyse, he said.

Human resource management as a subject has acquired importance now. An information technology company may recruit a graduate in engineering but the person in charge of human resource would have graduated in English literature, he pointed out. With a shortage of people with a commerce background, the industry is facing a shortage of staff with knowledge of accounts, cost analysis and so on, he added.

B.K. Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, co-chairperson, Kumaraguru College of Engineering, suggested that students should be provided counselling on the potential of traditional courses.

Bharathiar University has 147 colleges affiliated to it, 90 per cent of which are privately owned. What the university proposes to do is to design courses that will make the students suitable for different kinds of jobs. It will introduce degree courses with three major subjects. For instance, a B.Sc. programme with focus on biological sciences, physics and social sciences.

We will prepare graduates with knowledge of the Tally package, computers, physics and mathematics and the ability to communicate in English. This is being done at the University of Pune. The employability rate of students of arts and science courses there is 35 per cent, while the all-India rate is 6 per cent, Thiruvasagam said. Earlier, when the demand for IT courses peaked, Bharathiar University had introduced B.Sc. (Physics), B.A. (Economics), B.Com., and hotel management courses with computer applications.

The focus of the university will be research. A researcher from anywhere can register for a Ph.D. at the university and his or her guide can be from anywhere in the country.

About 2,000 people have registered with our university for Ph.D. on a part-time basis, including two Members of Parliament from Iraq, Thiruvasagam said.

Anna University-Coimbatore is blazing a new trail with the introduction of the first stage of its end-to-end management of the examination system. The technical university covers nine districts in Tamil Nadu with 118 colleges affiliated to it. We are the first university in the country to introduce an integrated examination management system, Vice-Chancellor R. Radhakrishnan said. It comprises five stages: electronically dispatching the hall tickets to students and question papers to colleges; electronic evaluation of answer scripts; secure e-mark sheets; preparation of e-question banks; and online examinations.

The first stage was implemented during the November-December 2008 examinations. Stage two is on trial, Radhakrishnan said. Until recently, Anna University-Coimbatore used to dispatch question papers to colleges in vehicles, with accompanying staff. Now, the Controller of Examinations chooses a paper out of three already prepared papers in an encrypted form and e-mails the colleges.

Radhakrishnan said: All these will eliminate malpractices. Nowhere else in India has it been implemented.

The university has instructed its affiliated colleges to have several internet connections. They should have virtual private network, besides direct optical fibre cable link from the colleges to the university, a redundancy line and a radio-frequency link, to manage the examination system.

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