Autonomy For Varsities To Be Focal Theme For AIU Conference

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Bhubaneswar: Autonomy, considered an essential prerequisite for universities to flourish, will be the focus of deliberations at the three-day annual meet of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) beginning at the SOA (Deemed to be University) here on Saturday.

“Without any doubt, autonomy is an essential prerequisite for universities to innovate, thrive and excel, but the ground reality is that neither are Indian universities endowed with parameters, which are globally acknowledged and recognized for excellence, nor do they have the required autonomy to take steps towards that goal,” Prof Sandeep Sancheti, president of AIU, told newsmen on the eve of the conference at SOA on Friday.
“This paradoxical situation,” Sancheti said, “called for a thorough debate on the subject so that we can identify and define the kind and degree of autonomy the universities or other higher education institutions require to achieve the goals of quality and excellence.”
The conference, which will be attended by around 200 vice-chancellors of different universities across the country and leaders in the field of higher education, will have a plenary session on the topic, ‘Autonomy for Excellence in Higher Education’.
Indian universities being the nerve centres and prime movers of the nation, influencing its social and economic transformation, an excellent higher education system could strengthen the knowledge base, said Sancheti, adding that this can be done only through an excellent higher education system.
He said the Ministry of HRD had been mandated with the goal of building world-class higher education institutions in India.  “In this context, the government reaffirms its role as a facilitator notwithstanding the fact that so far, we could not gather consensus on the kind of facilitation which universities require to excel.”
“If we start analyzing from simple to complex requirements, the need for autonomy prevails everywhere,” he said.
The conference will also have separate sessions on ‘Benchmarking Excellence in Higher Education: Teaching, Research, Social Development and Community Engagement’, ‘Promotion of Sports and Sports Culture in Higher Education’ and ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution: Challenges for and Response of Higher Education.’
Prof M.M.Salunkhe, vice-president of AIU, Prof Furqan Qamar, Secretary General of AIU and Prof Amit Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of SOA were present.
The inaugural function of the conference, being held in partnership with different departments of the Odisha government, will be graced by Subroto Bagchi, Chairman, Odisha Skill Development Authority, who will be the chief guest, Prof Rajnish Jain, Secretary, UGC, Raimund Magis, Deputy Head of delegation of the European Union to India, L.N. Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary, MSME and Bishnupada Sethi, Principal Secretary, Higher Education.