DIFFICULTIES FACED AND WAYS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF TEACHING AND RESEARCH IN THE CURRENT UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: THE JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE Siddhartha Datta Pro Vice-Chancellor Difficulties Faced I. Human Resource Students No University Fellowship for research students. Teachers (i) Disparity of pay scale with respect to Central universities and private universities. (ii) Therefore, attracting quality teachers from outside state/country is nearly impossible. (iii) Retention of best teaching talents difficult. II. Infrastructure 1. Very little funding for development purposes under Plan head (UGC has frozen XII Plan funds at the level of XI Plan period). 2. Therefore, it becomes nearly impossible to plan for the future in current circumstances. 3. This is particularly important when it comes to housing for outstation teachers, researchers and students. 4. Further, this makes procurement and maintenance of equipment difficult. 5. Maintenance grant for equipment seldom given. III. Other Factors 1. No formal mechanism for publicizing achievements which would help to attract better quality teachers and students. 2. Doctoral and postdoctoral research, especially in emerging areas not integrated with teaching/syllabi. 3. Inadequate collaboration with National Laboratories and foreign institutions of excellence. 4. Poor interface with industry. 5. Complicated process for signing agreements for joint or dual degree programmes, especially with foreign institutions. 6. Inadequate scope and efforts to raise funds from external sources including alumni, industry, private sector. 7. Fee revision: important and necessary, but neglected. 8. Inefficiency and complicated bureaucratic procedures on part of government agencies like UGC, leading to delays and lapses. 9. Inadequately trained support staff in university administration. Accountability and incentive system both absent. 10. Poor awareness regarding importance of maintaining records and other data in regard to university’s performance. 11. No centralized system for data gathering and analysis. 12. Low use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) in university administration. 13. Research (i) The analysis of research output, especially in terms of contribution to society, is poor. (ii) Accountability & transparency for research output need improvement. (iii) No formal mechanism within the university system to reach out to marginal and backward sections of society. (iv) Funding for basic/fundamental research decreasing. Ways to Improve Quality 1. Human resource Students Must introduce University Fellowships for research students. Teachers (i) Evaluation system of teachers needs improvement. (ii) Incentive schemes (not necessarily financial) should be introduced. (iii) State universities’ teachers should receive pay packages commensurate with Central universities. 2. Universities need a formal mechanism when it comes to interaction with media to publicize achievements in teaching and research. 3. The future of research is interdisciplinary. (i) This needs to be promoted. (ii) Research areas need to be identified right from the UG level. (iii) Courses and teaching modules must be restructured accordingly. (iv) Interdisciplinary studies should be built into the formal structure of university syllabi. 4. Universities must make special efforts for collaboration with other institutions in India and abroad and have inter-university collaboration and exchanges within India. 5. Must attract international students, to keep pace with a rapidly-changing, globalized environment. 6. Must improve interface and collaboration with industry. 7. Universities require greater autonomy for better functioning. 8. In Jadavpur University, tuition fees were last revised in 2001. Hostel fees were last revised in the 1970s. Spending government funds for everyone seems to be a case of subsidizing the rich with money taken from all, including the poor. Urgent need for fee revision, including hostel charges, with adequate provision for financially disadvantaged students. 9. The UGC must become less bureaucratic and more efficient. It is to be hoped that the RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) will address this matter, on a urgent footing. 10. Accountability of support staff and provision for incentives need to be built into the university system. 11. Urgent need to introduce Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software in all universities. 12. Urgent need to enhance ICT facilities in university administration. 13. Research (i) Should become more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of society, especially the most marginalized sections. (ii) It must be accessible. Universities must devise mechanisms to ensure that fruits of research reach those who need it most. (iii) Universities should give incentives (not necessarily financial) to those who carry out research. Both students and teachers should receive such incentives. (iv) Government must increase funding for basic/fundamental research. Thank you!