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Transforming Mindsets Key To Future: Prof Renu Vig

Public universities in India find themselves at crossroads, their relevance in an increasingly competitive and transforming world being at stake. Fortunately, the realisation appears to have finally sunk in that bold, innovative and path-breaking corrective measures need to be taken quickly to arrest the slide into potential oblivion.

Orchestrating this thought process Panjab University’s first women vice chancellor Prof Renu Vig made some candid observations while delivering a lecture on ‘Vision for Panjab University, Chandigarh’ in the Prof BM Anand Auditorium of the university’s Physics Department on Friday.

Transforming Mindsets Key To Future: Prof Renu Vig, Lifeinchd

Panjab University’s first woman Vice Chancellor Prof Renu Vig delivering a lecture on ‘Vision for Panjab University, Chandigarh’ at the Prof BM Anand Auditorium on the university campus, on Friday

Photo By: Life In Chandigarh

This was the concluding lecture in the series ‘Vision for Institutions’ organised by the Society for Promotion of Science & Technology in India (SPSTI) from 2021-23 to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence.

A day before the university received its first ever highest NAAC A++ grade with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.68 from a maximum 4 points from the National Assessment & Accreditation Council, Prof Vig said fundamental changes needed to be made in mindsets and motivation levels raised to new heights at all levels, in tune with modern times.

Aptly, she was speaking from the auditorium named after Prof. BM Anand, who, as first head of Physics Department of Panjab University, Chandigarh, with his high level of motivation, commitment and innovation, found an opportunity even within the limited resources at the command of a fledging department post Partition, and helped it on its way to becoming one of the premier physics departments of the country. He was a lifelong learner himself and inspired others who came into his influence to do the same.

Expressing her thoughts while running a presentation on the Vision Document @ 1947 adopted by the Panjab University, the vice chancellor said in keeping with the times, nomenclature and curriculum of courses across all teaching and research disciplines needed to be modified urgently, faculty needed to be made more broad based with the induction of industry experts, and their motivational levels raised.

Though the level of research happening in the university was quite high, she felt that many faculty members and other researchers were happy working in their individual silos. This needed to change as sharing of data had become critical with the rapid transformations happening around us. Intra departmental and inter departmental collaborations were the need of the hour for optimising the outcomes of the research efforts, she said, adding that inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary approaches should also be deployed.

At the same time, we have to marshal funds for the maintenance and renovation of old and dilapidated infrastructure for teaching and research, Prof Vig said and expressed optimism that the recent approval of Science & Technology cluster for the region led by Panjab University and IIT Ropar, and opening of centrally sponsored RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) labs in various disciplines to foster enhanced learning, research and innovation, will go a long way in raising the level of research and resulting in much needed incremental funding to the institution.

Comparing expenditure, and revenue sources, of Panjab University to two of the top universities in the world Harvard and Stanford, she said while Panjab University matches allocations in percentage terms for research activities with them, these universities are optimising their allocations on establishment in a far better way. We are spending an estimated 83% of our Rs 750 crore annual budget on salaries, pensions, other benefits, alone.

While 36% of Harward’s revenues come from endowments, a staggering 61% of Stanford revenues are contributed by cutting edge healthcare services, including running of hospitals, provided by the university, she added.

Describing the university alumni as a pillar of strength, she hinted that in the future it will be involved in a much more meaningful way in making Panjab University a future-ready university by helping in designing modern courses and curricula, attracting industry experts as faculty and forging associations and collaborations with the industry as well as foreign universities.

 

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