Once Anna University is bifurcated into Anna Institute of Eminence and Anna University, the university can focus completely on research and innovation, experts say.

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news Education Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 15:47

Taking a step closer to getting Anna University the status of Institution of Eminence (IoE) from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), the government of Tamil Nadu has formed a committee to study the possibility of bifurcation of the university into an IoE and an affiliating university. 

The government order, announcing the formation of the committee, was issued on Monday. The order stated that a cabinet meeting was conducted in November to consider the proposal to bifurcate the erstwhile Anna University into Anna Institute of Eminence (Anna IoE) and Anna University, by amending the Anna University Act, 1978. It has also been decided to get a clear response from the government of India regarding the applicability of the state’s reservation policy on Anna University after granting of the IoE status.

Proposed bifurcation

According to Mangat Ram Sharma, the Principal Secretary to Government (Department of Higher Education), the proposal entails consolidating College of Engineering Guindy, Madras Institute of Technology and Alagappa College of Technology (including School of Architecture and Planning) to form the Anna Institute of Eminence, which will be the IoE-conferred institution. The other institution will be Anna University, which will carry on all the duties in relation to affiliation, syllabus, examinations and award of degrees to engineers in Tamil Nadu as is being done by Anna University at present.

The Anna IoE will focus exclusively on research and innovation, and have a higher share of students and faculty members from abroad.

Meanwhile academics and experts have appreciated the idea of bifurcation of the university.

Affiliation process shifts focus from research

Former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University E Balagurusamy welcomed the move to study the proposal.

Speaking to TNM, he said that as affiliating bodies, it is normal for universities to be engaged in a lot of administrative work in the time that should be dedicated to research and development.

“Affiliation processes include a lot of inspection and processes which drain time and energy of the professors working there. So once Anna University becomes IoE, the university can focus completely on research and consultancy like how IITs are doing,” he said.

Drawing parallels between renowned universities across the world which are top-ranked for research, Balagurusamy said that once it has been decided to focus fully on innovation and excellence, a university must not engage in affiliating other colleges.

‘IoE should be called Anna University’

However, the idea to name the institute of eminence as Anna IoE has not gone down well with the stakeholders.

Jayaprakash Gandhi, an education expert, said that the name ‘Anna University’ is a brand in itself and hence the decision to rename the bifurcated institute must be reconsidered.

“I think the name of the new university must also be related to Anna university because students might mostly not agree to a change in name, since Anna University is a brand too,” he said.

Balagurusamy also said that he would not recommend changing the name of the IoE-tagged institution. “IoE is a status and I feel there is no need to change the name. Let the state government name the new affiliating university something else. Anna University is a brand by itself and one of the top-ranked in the country.

Confusion around state reservation policy

A major confusion surrounding the granting of IoE status to Anna University has been the uncertainty of whether the state government’s reservation policy will continue to apply in admitting students to the university.

Tamil Nadu follows 69% reservation quota in admission to engineering courses in Anna University. This is different from the around 49.5% reservation followed by government institutions at the national level.

The state government had, in August, written to the MHRD about the reservation policy and sought clarification on whether it can follow its erstwhile policy in Anna University after receiving the IoE status. The MHRD had replied in the positive, confirming that the granting of IoE status will not disturb the unique policy of reservation followed in Tamil Nadu.

Mangat Ram Sharma reiterated to TNM that Tamil Nadu’s 69% reservation will be followed in both the units even after bifurcation.

“The government of India has clearly said that the state government can follow the reservation norms in admission of students to Anna University even after granting IoE tag,” Balagurusamy said. However, he added that the cut-off requirements, fees, etc. will be different.

“We should remember that it is just four colleges that will go through this change in admission criteria, not all the engineering colleges in the state. And so the impact will be negligible,” he explained, adding that this is a great opportunity for Tamil Nadu to foster an educational institution catering to excellence in research and technology, and that the state should not let it go.