Modernising curriculum, generating funds and collaborating with other universities is on the agenda for professor Najma Akhtar, Jamia’s first woman Vice-Chancellor, who assumed charge Friday.
According to her, “if there’s one thing which is required in Jamia at the time, it is the introduction of new courses, tailored to current needs”.
“I will consult with all levels in the university hierarchy — department heads, deans, the executive and academic councils — and try to find out which department is lacking in which area, and which is giving out outdated courses. Some of our courses are no longer necessary, and there are some areas in which we need to introduce some new courses. I have found that some of the courses currently offered are old fashioned. Either we replace, modify or modernise them. We don’t just have to make our students do courses, we also have to get them jobs. We need to be job-oriented and develop our courses in consultation with industries,” Akhtar, who is the first woman Vice-Chancellor in any Indian central university, said.
She said the problem currently plaguing all universities is they are parched for funds, adding that apart from approaching the government for funds, she is focused on earning.
“We have to learn to earn. For a very long time, universities, especially central universities, have been spoon-fed by the government. Are we capable of earning something on our own?” she said.
Among possible avenues for earning that she flagged was approaching industries, which are looking for scholars to conduct research for them.
Professor Akhtar is taking charge of a university which has not had an elected students’ union since they were banned in 2006. In 2011, three former students moved the Delhi High Court demanding the restoration of students’ union. However, the matter is still in court.
When asked whether she would look into the issue, Akhtar said, “Student representation is very important – whether political representation is necessary or not needs to be looked at. It is necessary to look at the pros and cons of the situation prevailing in the university for the last 12 years.”
She stated that student consultation would be a vital part of her conduct during her tenure. “I will be talking to the students. I will be talking to the female students as well as students in general to find out what is hurting them. Everything that I will do will be based on what is needed here… one can find out problems best from where the shoe pinches,” she said.