Mumbai: TISS programme to ease new varsity officials into their roles

After successive state governments have been criticised for allegedly appointing university officials without appropriate experience in handling administrative and other responsibilities, the central government has chosen the institute to help in the task

Appointments to the post of vice-chancellor and other important positions in any university can be quite a daunting task for the state. Keeping in mind the flak from people that many state governments have drawn for appointing university officials without any background or experience in handling administrative and other responsibilities, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has been chosen by the central government to help in this task.

Many state governments have taken flak from people for allegedly appointing university officials without any background or experience of handling administrative and other responsibilities. There was also  a petition against the appointment of University of Mumbai vice-chancellor, Rajan WelukarMany state governments have taken flak from people for allegedly appointing university officials without any background or experience of handling administrative and other responsibilities. There was also a petition against the appointment of University of Mumbai vice-chancellor, Rajan Welukar

TISS is formulating the Quality Improvement of Universities programme, which will train senior officials of a university to help ease newly-appointed people into their roles and responsibilities. TISS was also chosen by the Union HRD Ministry to formulate the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) in order to improve the quality of state-run universities across the country.

“Only trained professionals should be handling key positions in universities, so as to ensure the smooth functioning of the university. We are currently in the process of developing a programme for the same, with the help of the government,” said S Parasuraman, director of TISS.

He added that the Quality Improvement of Universities programme will help train newly-appointed officials as well as those who will be short listed by the government/university to take senior positions in the institutes.

This project was handed over to TISS last year and will be ready in a month’s time. The project will focus on all aspects of university administration as well and include training programmes that span from two days to four weeks. Experts and educationists say that they welcome the idea with open arms.

“Appointment of the vice-chancellor of a university can create the future of all students and institutes affiliated to that university. Not having someone fit for the role could spell doom for the students. Therefore programmes like these should be encouraged and we hope this will bring back focus to the seriousness of this issue,” said an ex-senate member of the university.

RUSA grant
RUSA will look at the larger picture of the falling performance of state run universities. "In order to improve the quality of universities we need to ensure adequate funding and better governance structure. RUSA is open to all universities but not mandatory," said Prof Venkatesh Kumar from TISS, who was invited by the HRD ministry in 2012 to design and work on these projects.

He added that the government has already approved Rs 22,855 crore for RUSA and will pump in another Rs 99,000 crore over the next nine years. RUSA has already been approved by the central Cabinet and the scheme will be functional from 2015.

Protests against VCs
Experts say the Quality Improvement of Universities programme will prove handy to most universities, especially as there have been cases of protests against the appointment of vice chancellors.

Former University of Mumbai pro-vice-chancellor Dr A D Sawant had filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court in 2011, challenging VC Rajan Welukar’s credentials.

The petition claimed that Welukar did not possess the essential qualifications or the experience required for the post. Similarly, over the years many such controversies have cropped up at universities across the country.

Professor speak
Universities need to follow certain prerequisites in order to be eligible to apply for the RUSA grant, and the Quality Improvement of Universities programme uses a specific approach and plan, which will be shared with the university to better its quality. We will help them plan and execute. - Professor Venkatesh Kumar, TISS

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