THE CHANGE AGENT
Ranked among the top ten universities of India, University of Delhi, is leading the way in terms of innovation and quality of education. Here’s why.
When Aarti Bhatia scored a 96 per cent in her 12th CBSE boards this year, she could not believe her luck. Her admission to the prestigious Delhi University was secure. Bhatia, like a large number of youngsters represent the lot who take pride in being a part of this 89-year old university.
Dinesh Singh, vice chancellor, Delhi University says, “The university has some of India’s most enthusiastic, bright, highly motivated and enthusiastic students. Also, many of our programmes are outstanding resulting in demand for admission.” Since Singh took over as the vice chancellor in October 2010, the university has witnessed several changes. Two of the most significant one’s were introduction of the semester system and sky- high cut offs this year. Singh explains, “This institution has a moral duty and obligation to create a platform where everyone should be able to recognise who they are, then they will be fruitful and productive in their lives and the lives of their nation. That is what we wanted to achieve through the semester system. As for the cut-offs, no one that I know was affected by it. Since we live in a democracy, there are all kinds of voices and noises, all kinds of music. You have let them flourish, That is the value of democracy.”
There is this impression largely created through the media that the whole university was up in arms against the semester system and that the vice chancellor was left isolated and it is his battle. “Unfortunately that is not the picture. There are several wise and far-sighted people in the university. Academics are like humans everywhere else and there will be people who will agree with your point of view, no matter where or who
you are. However, the institution within the university remains strong. Our decision making bodies, our forums for discussions are in a very healthy state. Discussion took place over the next eight month or so after I became VC. There were many people supporting the whole idea. It helped carry the programme forward everywhere, in every faculty, discipline, and department,” says Singh. He adds that there was support and there were people who disagreed. But they went through this the way an institutional mechanism is expected to function to ensure that the semester system was put into place.
The university has started a new programme in the Cluster Innovation Centre. Singh explains, “Our programmes will be inter- disciplinary, hands-on and high-end. We are blending the three features together. Right now we are starting a new under graduate four year B.tech. programme. The only pre-requisite of the programme is that one must have mathematics in their 12th standard even if you have not studied physics or chemistry. There are many girls in this programme.” Through this programme, students can become molecular biologist, zoologist, genetician, electronics engineer, mathematician. Same programme. “It will give you a platform where you can find your way into becoming what you want. That is why it is called B.tech in innovation with mathematics and IT. It is 60 per cent hands on project mode and 40 per cent theory and students will work with industrial clusters and innovate.”
Singh also headed the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Kashmir University and Islamic University of Science and Technology in Srinagar. The collaboration would give students from the two universities an opportunity to learn from teachers at Delhi University and vice versa. “Students were beamed live during the signing ceremony, indicating that the need of the hour has shifted from theoretical knowledge to technical know how,” says Singh.
Although Singh has been working hard on improving the quality of education, there are areas that once worked on can prove to be advantageous for the university. Abhay Kumar, assistant professor, Sri Ram College of Commerce says, “The semester system is working well and we are hopeful of good results. But we need to work hard on developing infrastructure and hiring permanent lecturers, and in all honesty it may take some time for us to be the best, but the future is not far.”
Dinesh Singh, Vice Chancellor, Delhi University