Dr. Harish Padh, Vice Chancellor, Sardar Patel University
Q- What are the challenges that state universities are facing?
Prof Padh- The first challenge which I face is budgetary constraint. As a state university we are able to spend only Rs. 1 lakh per PG student, whereas central universities spend a whopping Rs.10 lakhs per student. The second challenge is that the state govts are not serious in filling up the positions. Out of 250 sanctioned positions, only 150 have been filled.
So, we have a deficit of about 33%. Moreover, our administrative structure is quite old. The senate and syndicate create obstructions. These are all the leftover legacies of the colonial era. There is a need to urgently revamp the administrative authority’s structure in the universities. Moreover the massive doles rolled out by the 6th and 7th pay commissions have created hurdles in motivating the existing staff members to perform better.
On the brighter side, most of our students come from the economically backward and underprivileged strata of the society, their enthusiasm towards higher education are tremendous.
Q-Tell us about some of the initiatives you have taken at your university?
Prof Padh- One big issue which I have observed in recent years is the govt’s mindset. There are many students who come up with trivial issues like errors in the mark sheets and delayed availability of scholarships. For solving these issues I set up an open house through which the VC was available from 3PM to 5PM on the first Monday of every month for consultations with students. This experiment really worked well in solving many of the issues.
10% of our researchers are doing really well in the domain of research. I have given them full liberty to carry on their research work. Another 30%-40% of the researchers need to perform better. But the last 40%-50% of the researchers are doing nothing. So, I encourage them to start a new research by offering them seat grants. This new plan really made the inactive faculty members very much active.
Q-How important are research centres in India? Do you have any research centre in your university?
Prof Padh- All of our post graduate and PhD departments are research departments. More than 60% of them have the recognition of special centres or special assistant program from UGC. We were lagging behind in cross-communication (proper coordination) between different departments.
Recently we have set up CIST (Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies) to facilitate communication among the science departments. We have started 3 programs under CIST- Earth sciences, Medical technologies and Defence technologies. This year we have launched interdisciplinary programs in social sciences and humanities. I believe that we will need a multidisciplinary approach to solve most of our problems in the future.