The government has kick-started the process to set up a Kerala Technological University (KTU) with an aim to step up the quality of technical education. The Department of Technical Education recently submitted a detailed project report elaborating on the proposed vision of the university.
Establishment of KTU is part of the 100-days programme announced by the United Democratic Front (UDF) government.
Experts closely associated with the formulation of the report told The Hindu-EducationPlus that the organisational structure of KTU is designed to catapult the quality of technical education through effective application of information technology, internet connectivity, and advanced information systems in education and research.
Unlike the traditional universities, KTU will be on a sophisticated broadband network and systems that will be spread across the constituent colleges and autonomous colleges affiliated to it.
The university's structure is expected to improve the academic standards by adapting innovative administrative and academic practices.
“To provide a professional management structure, the legislative instrument that creates KTU needs to spell out the appropriate powers, autonomy, functions, and methods of operation explicitly. The instrument must be designed for a system that ensures professionalism and result oriented management. An approach will be to combine the good points of the acts constituting the IGNOU, IITs and IISERs,” the report stated.
The headquarters of the university shall be at the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram campus. It will consist of constituent colleges, autonomous affiliated colleges, and centres of research in thrust areas.
A constituent college is one having representation in the management of the university and which is approved as a constituent college by the governing council of the university.
Full academic freedom will be provided to constituent colleges and they will function with the necessary freedom to design the curriculum, frame syllabus, and conduct the examinations.
Initially all government engineering colleges in the State will be included as the constituent colleges.
The engineering colleges in the State other than the proposed constituent colleges presently affiliated to different universities can de-affiliate from them, obtain autonomous status as per UGC guidelines, and get affiliated to KTU. Centres of research in thrust areas of technology will be established in the constituent colleges to foster postgraduate education and research. Cooperation and funding from national and international agencies will be sought for establishing the centres.
These centres will act as nucleus of research in frontier areas of technology and will have interaction with industry. The university will also have incubation centres, technology transfer centres, and intellectual property bureaus in the constituent colleges.
The governing council will be the principal executive body of the university. It will consist of not more than 21 members. They shall include an eminent industrialist/ educationist (chairman- the person should be an engineer who has headed at least a State level public undertaking or academic/ R&D institution); Principal Secretary (Higher Education); Principal Secretary (Finance); Vice-Chancellor; Director, IIT, Madras; Director, VSSC or IIST; Nominee of UGC/AICTE; Principals of the constituent colleges; two academicians nominated by government; two industrialists nominated by government; Registrar (Ex-officio: Director of Technical Education). The Registrar will be the convener of the governing council.
Each constituent college with full academic freedom will have an executive council, academic council, research council, and controller of examinations. The executive council shall be responsible for taking policy decisions, carrying out the decisions, preparing and approving the budget and annual statement of expenditure related to academic activities, and conduct of examinations. The primary functions of the academic council are designing the curriculum, framing the syllabus, and preparation of academic calendar.
Each constituent college will have a research council. Dean (Research) will be the chairman of the research council. The research council will be responsible for the research related activities of the institution. Each constituent college will have a controller of examinations to look after all activities related to the smooth and time bound conduct of examinations. The executive council will nominate a senior professor as the controller of examinations.
The report said that the financial commitment for the KTU is limited to one time grant of Rs.3 crore for establishing the university, annual salary, and establishment charges of Rs.50 lakh and annual recurring expenses of Rs.50 lakh.
Major portion of the financial commitments can be met by transfer of funds from the budget provision of Department of Technical Education. The funds to meet the salary expenditure of employees deployed from Department of Technical Education and administrative expenses may be given from the Non-Plan budget demand of Department of Technical Education as Non-Plan grant to the university. It is proposed to create only 10 additional posts including that of Vice-Chancellor. The other posts required will be filled through deployment of excess posts in the Directorate.
Explaining the rationale for establishing a separate Technological University, experts pointed out that the existing affiliating universities are predominantly oriented towards education in humanities, pure sciences and languages and give very little attention to the professional education sector. The procedure for updating the curriculum are protracted and cumbersome with the result that the professional courses get outdated without any timely revision and without the capacity to adapt to the changing requirements of the industry and the economy.
The report said that the university offices are currently not functioning in an online environment suitable for handling education in modern technology. The various universities in the State have different syllabi and different calendars of examination with the result that the mobility of the students is made difficult.
In the present case, the existing universities in the State do not have provision for autonomous colleges in their statutes. A system which allows well-performing institutions with full academic autonomy is thus essential, it said.
Full academic freedom is envisaged for constituent colleges in the KTU. “Any autonomy to be meaningful, it should be accompanied by a great deal of decentralisation and delegation.
At the institutional level, the Heads of Departments should shoulder the burden of academic administration, and it should be shared with the senior faculty in each department.
All the faculty members should participate in curriculum development, and there should be a total commitment to continuous and comprehensive internal assessment and conduct of terminal examinations,” the report said.
Structures have to be created for training and development as well as for assessment of instruction.
Experts said that it is necessary to make rigour a matter of institutional culture, with constant monitoring of classes, lectures, lecture notes, question papers and all associated activities. “Age-old decision-making methods are to be discarded forthwith. The Information–Consultation–Decision–Empowerment model should be adopted.
The new management paradigm with a flat organisational structure and empowered officials will result in systems that can respond fast,” they said. The expert panel that prepared the project report pointed out that a specialised university would be better to develop academic linkages with the top-class institutions.