Published: 13th May 2022
All that the Government of Tamil Nadu is getting right when it comes to higher education
Higher Education Secretary D Karthikeyan said intensive structural reforms have been planned to transform the state into a knowledge economy
With a stellar Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) of 51.4 against the national average of 27.1, Tamil Nadu has been making rapid strides in higher education. The new DMK government with greater emphasis on quality over quantity has unveiled a slew of measures to improve the quality of education and make it more inclusive and accessible, officials said.
The aim of higher education is to identify, recognise and improve the talent of youth to enable them to face challenges. One of the most crucial welfare measures initiated by the government was to reserve 7.5 per cent seats in engineering and other professional colleges for government school students on a preferential basis along with a waiver of course fees and hostel and transportation fees.
“The initiative has opened several opportunities for government students who were unable to study in Engineering colleges because of affordability of fees,” said K Prabhakaran, a retired government school teacher.
Though the government provided free textbooks, laptops, bus passes, and fee exemption in undergraduate and postgraduate Arts and Science courses, reservation of seats was essential to making professional courses accessible to government school students, academicians said.
For girl students
Another path-breaking scheme launched by the DMK government is Moovalur Ramamirtham Ammaiyar Higher Education Assurance Scheme. Under the scheme, girl students who studied from Classes VI to XII in government schools will get Rs.1,000/- per month in their bank accounts for higher education till they complete their degree, diploma or ITI courses.
The scheme has been designed to encourage more girl students to pursue higher education without financial trouble. Approximately six lakh girls are expected to benefit from the scheme and Rs 698 crore has been allocated for the scheme this year.
The government has also announced that it will bear the entire cost of education of government school students who get UG seats in institutions like IITs, IIMs, and IISc. “The state has adopted several progressive measures in bridging the gender gap and urban-rural divide in higher education,” said noted academician and former Madras University Vice-Chancellor, SP Thyagarajan.
Making them employable
Along with gender parity, the government is also focusing on making students more employable and wants to strengthen research work in higher education. At least 20 new Arts and Science colleges will commence across the state and to open research avenues for students, the government has started offering PhD programmes in 10 government Arts and Science colleges from 2021-22 academic year.
Higher Education Secretary D Karthikeyan said intensive structural reforms have been planned to transform the state into a knowledge economy.
“Measures are being taken to revamp and enhance the syllabus of state universities for upskilling students and to fulfill industrial requirements. We have started work on overhauling the syllabus of Anna University and the effort will be extended to other Arts and Science universities. The department is striving to bring the state’s academic standards on par with international institutes,” Karthikeyan told TNIE.
“We have set up a drone corporation in Anna University, which is a novel initiative to boost research work in the sector,” he added.
A total of Rs 5,668.89 crore has been allotted for the higher education department.
When it comes to rankings...
Tamil Nadu has consistently performed well in NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) with 19 institutions in the overall category, 19 institutions in the university category (with Anna University placed on top among Tamil Nadu state universities), 33 institutions in top 100 in the Arts and Science category and 36 technical institutions in top 200. Higher education department officials said that they are working on a detailed blueprint to improve their universities’ ranking in NIRF.
Educationists feel a lot more can be done to make Tamil Nadu a frontrunner in the higher education sector of the country. “Funding for state universities should be increased and government must support more quality research, launch research fellowships and take steps to showcase our research findings,” Thyagarajan said.