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Higher education - Look beyond set options


College cut-offs are likely to go further up, it’s time for students to explore newer avenues
July 18, 2010 17:13
Tags : Higher education |Jamia Hamdard University |Unani medicine. |Urdu |

 Higher education - Look beyond set optionsG N Qazi

Vice Chancellor, Jamia Hamdard University

With each passing year, it’s getting increasingly difficult to secure admission in colleges. The cut-off soars sky-high. Mostly, students go for a few select colleges and universities though several new ones have come up during the last few years. I am not saying that students should not try to break into the top colleges but at the same time it is also a fact that everybody cannot get a seat in these colleges. Students who don’t get admission in these colleges should not be disheartened as there are hundreds of other opportunities waiting for them. 

Sadly, no credible, independent rating of colleges has been done during the last six-seven years. We know there have been positive developments in the education sector lately. Many new, market-driven, job-oriented courses and streams have been introduced but they are not visible because the institutes offering these new courses cannot afford the publicity cost. 

The media has a vital role to play in this connection and it should objectively look into those institutions which lack wherewithal for publicity due to financial constraints. The kind of independent ranking and benchmarking carried out by the media elsewhere in the world is hardly done in our country. 

We do not have a system in place where one could obtain data on variables and strategic parameters to determine the facts about an educational institution. There have been just four or five parameters on which ranking is done – usually infrastructure and placements and not the quality of faculty and research programmes undertaken. We should know about the value base of an institute as to who is managing it and for what reasons etc. 

Today, the Indian pharma sector has an annual turnover of $20 billion, which is next only to the Information Technology which has crossed the $40 billion mark. This means that pharma is the second largest sector for internal market and exports. So, there will always be the need for human resources in this sector. The concern again is the quality of education. We have a very good pharmacy faculty and only one out of 50 applicants succeed in getting admission in our institute. 

The other areas of study would be paramedical and allied health education which includes physiotherapy, occupational therapy and hospital laboratory technician etc. The PhD programmes at our institution are in great demand. We are contemplating to introduce a PhD programme in Unani medicine which is one of the recognised healthcare systems propagated by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. We have introduced a new stream called clinical research which is in great demand. We have made all preparations to start our first batch of MBBS next year subject to approval by MCI. This would be our biggest achievement so far. There are institutions which are catering to the needs of the weaker section of society. For instance, ours is a minority institution —a status granted by the Constitution —and we cater to the Muslim minority but a very large number of our students belong to other communities. Fifty per cent of our admitted students can be from the Muslim community. 

We have different kinds of problems; like in some courses we are not able to attract Muslim students because of lack of awareness among Muslims about the courses where opportunities exist. For instance, we have this nursing college which is one of the best and the oldest in the NCR and is approved by all nursing councils. This is a very sought after course but we are not able to sell it to Muslim students. Similarly, or rather conversely, we have a very good Unani medicine facility which is the foundation of our university but we are not able to attract non-Muslim students to this course. The reason perhaps could be that the majority of non-Muslim students does not have an Urdu background and they think that they cannot pursue this course without a deep knowledge of Urdu. But the fact is that almost 50 per cent of the curriculum of the Unani medicine is in English. Modern subjects like anatomy, microbiology, pathology, biochemistry are taught in English. So, I think students who do not have Urdu background, especially non-Muslim students, should also opt for studying Unani medicine.

Jamia Hamdard focusses purely on lower middle class people and the downtrodden who have not been touched by the development that has taken place in the country in the past two decades. But we need large resources for such ambitious plans. I am confident that the present Union and Delhi state governments will take note of our efforts and liberally come forward to make our already existing public-private partnership stronger and viable.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017