UNIVERSITY OF MUMBAI Size Does Matter
Entrenched deeply in tradition, the mammoth University of Mumbai is opening itself to a whole new world. The now common sights of students chatting with Vice- Chancellor Rajan Welukar on the lawns, the heritage convocation hall doors left uncharacteristically open, and constant construction work are things old- timers would hardly associate with the institution. But the winds of change blowing across its 156- year- old Fort campus have left no one untouched. The university’s campuses have grown from two to nine and a new Rs 300crore convention centre designed by Hong Kong- based architect James Law, a stunning doughnut- shaped modernist structure of twisting glass, is under way at the Kalina campus.
The university’s new agenda is to root itself in its milieu. For instance, it has woken up to the lack of a film and television institute in the film- centric Mumbai and has decided to incorporate one in the 100th year of Indian cinema to rival FTII in Pune, or the privately run Whistling Woods International founded by Subhash Ghai. The institute will include a 60- seater preview theatre.
The university has seven million students in 57 academic departments across 688 affiliated colleges— its jurisdiction being as large as the state of Maharashtra itself, with its farthermost college in Banda on the Goa border, 600 km away. “A UGC ( University Grants Commission) panel observed in 2012 that no university should have more than 100 colleges. Then University of Mumbai, as you can imagine, is the equivalent of seven universities,” says Welukar. It is zoned, like a state, into rural, tribal, rurban ( a mix of rural and urban), urban and metro colleges. The university’s 123- member academic council is now using this expanse to involve the community.
For instance, effective from the 2013- 14 session, the university is converting its 20- acre Ratnagiri campus to an employment- oriented hospitality study centre, modelled on American community colleges, to cater to a developing economy along the 720 km coastline. It wants to rope in players like Maharashtra Tourism Develop-