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Interview with the DU Vice Chancellor, Dr Deepak Pental
Delhi University ranked 254th in the Times Higher Education Supplement, QS WorldUniversity Ratings 2007. Your reaction?
We should be higher next time.
What makes you so confident?
We have initiated a number of reforms this year as syllabus upgradation, semester system, modernization of examination system, reforms in Doctoral research, streamlining of ad-hoc teachers appointment among several others.
What have been your pull-up and pull-down factors in ranking?
We have a reasonably good standard of research. In fact, we have the best research profile after IISc. Bangalore. The DelhiUniversity alumni are spread all over the world. The quality of our teaching staff is excellent. Some of the faculties especially in science have been performing excellent in research. Our life science department is doing very well; the Botany department is doing very well; Chemistry department is also good. Sociology is doing well…
And the pull-down factors?
Lack of resources, life as usual, lack of urgency, lethargy and inertia…
No other Indian university ranked higher than DelhiUniversity. What could be the secret? Could it not be due to the massive grant that this University receives?
No. That’s the misinformation. On the contrary our budget has been insufficient. We received sufficient grant only in this current fiscal that was in fact the highest grant – Rs.40 crore – in comparison to the other years. Minus this grant, we received altogether 13 crore for the entire plan period. Eighty to eighty five percent of our fund goes in salaries, another ten to fifteen percent goes in examination expenses. So what is left for anything else? But this year was an exception we got enough funds to upgrade labs and libraries.
Do you see any improvement today in comparison to what it might have been few decades earlier? If the same ranking was held few decades earlier, would you have fared better or worse?
About the same. You see in 1950s and 1970s, the Ivy League institutions were competitively not as better than us as they are today. Let’s face it we would not figure any where in ShanghaiJiaoTongUniversity ranking that has much stricter parameters than the THES ranking. Even their own universities rank low given the fact that no one would like to live in denial.
Why do you have to depend on grants? Why can’t you mobilize funds from your own sources?
You see the system of UGC grants frustrates innovation. If we try to develop internal resources the UGC makes a cut in grants-in-aid in the same proportion, so the incentive is lost. Ideally I would have favored a proportionate fee structure according to the paying capacity of the students. We do generate internal resources but that is very negligible. It is paradoxical that if you raise internal resources, say for research, the grant is frozen by as much, while abroad it is the other way round, they get additional grant of 40-70 percent by the funding agencies. There is no limit to funding in science and technology. What we get for research is less than one thousandth of what they get abroad.
You said you got adequate funds this year that enabled you to upgrade labs and libraries. Do you think this is going to continue?
I think it should continue. The number of intakes admissions has increased from about 120thousand to about 180 thousand.
With all the reforms and upgradation initiatives taken recently where do you think the DelhiUniversity could be place within the next few years?
I think if we are within 100 to 150 that would be great.