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Anna University affiliated colleges seek autonomy to decide part of curriculum

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The Times of India | Dec 18, 2016 |

Chennai: Demanding some degree of autonomy in deciding curriculum, the Consortium of self-financing professional and arts and science colleges in Tamil Nadu has asked Anna University to relinquish some power to its affiliated colleges to decide at least 20% of their curriculum.  The 550-odd engineering colleges affiliated to Anna University and the 4 colleges under it follow a common curriculum. This leaves no room for modifying or localising curriculum and they have to depend on syllabus revisions from the university. At present, a student from the affiliated colleges who might want to learn an up-and-coming or niche elective unavailable in his college has to wait till the university includes it in its syllabus, or take it up online through the central government’s ‘Swayam’ – MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform and avail credits for the same – provided it is available.  At a general body meeting of the consortium on Sunday, its new president R S Munirathinam pushed for more autonomy to the colleges in modifying their syllabus, ruling that existing options were harder on the students and colleges should be able to provide the requisite pedagogy. He explained that by keeping some level of control on the curriculum, institutions can tailor it around industry needs. Organisations that come in for campus recruitment look for specific skill-sets which may not be gained by covering just the prescribed syllabus, said Munirathinam. The self-financed colleges, he said, should be able to make modifications to their syllabi based on the localised needs of the students and the demands of the companies that approach the college for recruitment. “While following 80% from the existing curriculum, we request Anna University to grant us this leeway. By this, we can orient subject education around the current industry needs and trends,” said Munirathinam.

In addition to challenging biases of private colleges not being on a par with the likes of Anna University, this could enable these colleges to fight competition from the many deemed universities in the state. Deemed universities enjoy the autonomy to design their own curriculum, which has been giving them an edge over government-affiliated colleges. From timely integrations and exposure to newer technologies across disciplines, these universities can revise their syllabus without approaching any body.  Some like SASTRA University have been updating their curriculum regularly to include emerging trends in each discipline. S Vaidhyasubramaniam, dean of planning and development at the university, says engineering institutes “cannot afford to be victims of obsolescence” and should have the capacity to adapt to the market needs. Some core disciplines like computer science and civil have had leaps of advancements lately, which he says should be reflected in the curriculum as well. “While period between 2011 and 2016 saw the emergence of cloud computing and data analytics, opening up employment and research avenues; IOT (Internet of things), AI (Artificial intelligence) are burgeoning fields now in computer science domain. In Civil engineering, 3D printing and sustainable infrastructure are some of the focus points currently,” he said. –  Courtesy

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