"The university system is in a mess. What we are giving the students is anybody's guess," said S C Lakhotia of the Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University addressing a session at the 100th Indian Science Congress here. Seconding Lakhotia, former vice chancellor of Delhi University Deepak Pental pointed out that "one of the critical reasons" for such a state of affairs is the lack of a comprehensive education system in many universities.
"Many universities do not have both UG and PG courses. This discourages students from pursuing higher education. Such comprehensive universities are the need of the hour," said Pental. Another sector that needs a immediate attention is the creation of research institutes within the confines of the university itself. "We have separate research institutes and then we have single disciplined universities. Why don't we give importance to the university system like other countries do? Building of research institutes within the walls of the university is needed to promote multidisciplinary research and education," Lakhotia suggested.
Adding to Lakhotia's observation, Pental said: "On the one hand there are so many research institutes, on the other there is low level of research in universities." The existence of dichotomy between liberal and professional education is an issue that needs to be addressed, they feel. "Every discipline can become a profession. Dichotomy between liberal and professional education is not rational. Somewhere we have gone very wrong in our thinking," noted Pental. Criticising the policy makers and administration for not taking a the bull by the horns, Pental also focused on the "reluctance to follow global benchmarks".
"We are part of the global education network. But we have a reluctance to follow global benchmarks and standards. We have a tendency to look inward," said Pental. Shedding light on the way ahead, Lakhotia said that in order to acquire global knowledge leadership, "we'll need to overhaul our university system".