Mumbai University working towards introducing new age courses: Vice Chancellor Suhas Pednekar

In an interview with Free Press Journal’s Jescilia Karayamparambil, Suhas Pednekar, Vice Chancellor of University of Mumbai, says, they are looking at ways to upgrade courses and practices in the University. He understands the need of new age courses and hopes to make them available to students.

What is the progress made with the incubation centre?
We have not yet started any activity in that direction as MU just received the Letter of Intent (LOI) and funds will be released soon. We have identified the space in the Kalina Campus which is the Green Technology building for the setup. As this centre grows, we might have a separate building in the future.

How will the university encourage students to come to the centre?
We want to promote this idea among students. The concept is building greater awareness among students and management of educational institutions. On Monday, we are planning to meet the trustees/managment of various institutions in collaboration with Rashtriya Uchchattar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA).

RUSA has identified different universities and has given them certain fields to promote among their students, which is a good move. This is part of a bigger plan. Such move will get students to such incubation centres. In case of incubation centre, the focus is on technology especially in nano-science, finance and pharmaceuticals space.

Have grants been approved from the centre?
We will get Rs 5 crore from the government and University of Mumbai will also put in money. We will get Rs 1 crore every year for next five years. In case of initial expenses, University will take care of that. In terms of infrastructure, we already have a good setup.

How do you plan to upgrade the knowledge of educators?
Professors, who will be involved in mentoring in incubation centre, may go through training. This training would be given by experts from the industries. To some extent, we know our faculties have some limitations. So we will work towards strengthening and developing our institutions through synergy between faculties and industries.

What is the progress made in renewal of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) grade?
NAAC process has started. Within few weeks, we will submit our report that issue will be sorted soon. We will continue getting the grant. We do not see that as an issue.

The number of PhD students has dropped in University of Mumbai. Do you see that as a concern, considering the university is trying to encourage more research courses?
The current Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) was part of University of Mumbai where the good number of research papers were conducted. As it became autonomous and got detached from University of Mumbai and similarly, there are other institutions that are become autonomous. So it is obvious that the number will decline.

As far as University of Mumbai’s research output is concerned, pertaining to our university departments, in fact it is growing. But it is not ideal to compare the present figures with the past figures. There is no doubt that our research fellows are not getting recruitment after completion of the project. That number is declining to some extent which has had an impact. But as the recruitment process picks up there will be demand.

So the management of the institutions can introduce various programmes among their own institutions.  These new courses or elective can be introduced in the curriculum which will allow our students to be ready for the future. University of Mumbai is showing more interest in elective and new courses in stream of commerce. This is just part of the overall plan we have.

How do you plan to enable students to be future ready?
We understand there is a curriculum gap in various degree programmes. Also, we are not preparing our students to think in different lines. For example, how to make them entrepreneurs like developing practical skills that is required in the real world and helping them with internships.  There are vertical compartmentalisation in subjects that we are offering. We already introduced credit-based system and now we are looking at elective for students to choose. Elective will lead to activities like fintech.

There is a lack of training when it comes to starting their own business. In that direction, RUSA is very keen to design some courses and run them with help of the university. The university will introduce these courses as part of their curriculum.
We are encouraging more internships and giving more exposure to students. We are trying to make them ready for real world.

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