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Mr. Satyanarayana, Osmania University Vice Chancellor

Interview Date : 6/15/2012

Osmania University has been selected for the award of “University with Potential for Excellence (UPE)” Status by the University Grants Commission. It is one of the six Universities in the country which has bagged this covered status during the XI Plan. UPE is an innovative scheme of UGC introduced during the IX Plan with the objective of strengthening the academic and p h y s i c a l infrastructure of select / identified U n i v e r s i t i e s t h r o u g h s u b s t a n t i v e funding for
a c h i e v i n g excellence in t e a c h i n g , research and o u t r e a c h programmes and p r o m o t i n g flexible and e f f e c t i v e governance. So far nine Universities have been conferred with UPE status during the IX & X Plans.

TCG met Osmania University Vice Chancellor Mr.  Satyanarayana to take a look at the  University’s growth, its glorious past and bright future, packed with great plans for its students and faculty….

How has it been since you took over as VC?

Well, I can say God’s Grace has been upon me and there isn’t much unrest since I took over last year, but for a few disturbing incidents. I also had the privilege to make the presentation for Universities with Potential for Excellence and bag the same for our University! Osmania University had been short-listed in the IX plan, X plan and XI plan. The reason for getting this sanction is a p p a r e n t l y because of the g r e a t inf ras tructure, research work and the potential it has in the fields of Science and Engineering.

The main prerequisite for applying for this UPE is University should have some departments for CAS (Centre for Advanced Studies), at least four to five Sap Departments and DRS Departments. Osmania University is NAAC accredited ( http://w e b 3 . k a r . n i c . i n / n a a c _ a c c r e d i t / AAC_accreditationlist.aspx).
This year 34 Universities were eligible to apply, out of which 10 were short-listed. All these universities were called for presentation at the UGC, Delhi. Osmania took the second position Prof. S. Satyanarayana VC- Osmania University. following BHU. A total of six universities were selected. We scored around 85 against 100 marks. Andhra University also took part but couldn’t make it.
Under this UPE scheme, the University will receive grants up to Rs.50.00 crores over a period of five years for furtherance of the Focused area of research identified by the University (Materials Research Social Relevance) and Holistic development of the institution covering establishment of three interdisciplinary research centres viz.
· Centre for Advanced Research and Training in Earth Sciences,
· Centre for Advanced research and Training in Governacnce & Development and
· Centre for Advanced Research and Training in translation and Multilingualism and
· Improvement of physical & academic infrastructure  Institutional reforms and
· Extension and outreach activities.
The funding will enable the university to scale greater heights of excellence in its onward march of progress.
The XI Plan period has been an eventful period for  Osmania University. The major achievements of this performing University are:
• Establishment of Inter-disciplinary School of Life Sciences for Advanced research and Education  (DBT-OU-ISLARE) with funding from department of  Bio-technology, Govt. of India
• Sanction of Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE) programme from Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India and
• Award of Centre with Potential for Excellence in Particular Area (CPEPA) status from University Grants Commission, New Delhi
• Ranked 7th among the top Indian Universities as per the recent survey done by India Today- Nielson
· Institutional reforms and
· Extension & outreach activities.
The funding will enable the university to scale greater heights of excellence in its onward march of progress.
The XI Plan period ha been an eventful period for  Osmania University. The major achievements of this performing University are:
• Establishment of Inter-disciplinary School of Life Sciences for Advanced research and Education  (DBT-OU-ISLARE) with funding from department of  Biotechnology, Govt. of India
• Sanction of Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE) program from Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India and
• Award of Centre with Potential for Excellence in Particular Area (CPEPA) status From University grants Commossion, New Delhi
• Ranked 7th among thetop Indian Universities as per the recent survey done by India Today- Nielson

How did you think of this?

Apart from all the mandates mentioned, I think our forte is infrastructure and research facilities. Out of the last 15 years, XI plan got very good funds for the University. Also our publications won us the UPE, because we have made way to the world’s best publications through our papers. In Science, especially engineering departments our publications are really good, of course not to compare with Central University. I can surely say that among State Universities we are in the forefront in terms of research. We have good number of Doctorates and many teachers here have individual projects. All this won us a good score.

Going by what you said—Is the research going in the same breath and tempo even now?

Of course, thankfully that’s one area that hasn’t been affected much with the agitations. I am also a guide for many students here and under my mentorship six PhDs have been awarded so far. This happened when I was the  registrar of IIIT. I came here directly after that. I published 10 papers last year and ten before that. Even now after I took over as VC, I helped students to publish papers in my subject, Chemistry.
Nothing really affects those who have the zeal and passion to study and explore research. We have such dedicated students and teachers who remain oblivious to the chaos in the surroundings and just go on with their work, come what may. In fact it is these students’ works that contribute a great deal to the university. For that matter if I am in this position today, it is because of the teaching and the research work I did in the past. I am guiding eight students even today. It is this work that keeps up the name of the University.

What is the UPE fund sanctioned, and how will it be utilised?

It is Rs. 50 crores. This is single funding. Of this Rs. 15 crores will go towards infrastructure. Hostels are excluded. This also includes renovating existing  classrooms, seminar halls and labs. Anything that is related to teaching comes under this. The remaining Rs 35 crores, will be for the holistic development of the University. Which means teaching, skill development programmes, research and equipment will be covered. We can also utilise this for manpower recruitment for research facilities. Contingencies to procure chemicals etc. Almost all departments are covered.

What is your forte?

Outsiders always see Science because that is the subject that has good journals and scope to connect to more people as it is linked to life at a very basic level. Where as subjects like arts remain obscure because of lack of papers being published in good journals. Great teachers may be there in arts but proof isn’t seen.
Especially languages and Social Sciences have very little recognition because world is on the threshold of Technology, Communication and IT.  Journal of Chemistry, Journal of Experimental Biology are all standard  journals in Life Sciences but there aren’t any in arts. Journal called Nature—Biochemistry etc. Once a paper is published in one of these journals, there is recognition on a global level. So, this means that Science clearly stands above Arts?
Today’s student’s choice gives that impression. Also there are good international, standard journals in Science which bring value to the researcher if his/her paper is published. In Arts, the scope is less because there are very few standard journals in Arts.
There are always committed people in every department, which is applicable to Arts Dept also. Of the 700 teachers here, 300 are from the Science Department, of this only 25 per cent go in for paper publication. This again brings down the number of people into research.

If this is the scenario, do you think youngsters would be interested in pursuing these subjects?

We do need Political Sciences, Arts, and Humanities Public Administration MBA etc, today you see all the stalwarts including our Chief Minister are from the reputed Nizam College. Sri Shyam Benegal is also Nizam alumni. There are a few places where these subjects
and universities still flourish.

Isn’t there a general shift in the student’s preference today?

Are they not getting more logic-dominated than intuitive-lead?

For that matter it has become very difficult to get somebody pursuing hardcore/pure Science, we are seeing a mad rush towards engineering only. I find it very  difficult to get Science students. We see those who do not get into engineering prefer MCA and MBA but core research area has no takers. If this continues to be students’ preference, in a decade from now we would not have scientists. The tragedy is even IITs are suffering now, because they go only for IT jobs as it has high pay packages. I did my Masters in Science in 1978 and completed my PhD in three years; I got a job in two years. Which means it took me seven years to get a proper job. 

But, who has the patience today to study without earning for so long?

It is obvious that students want to earn fast and would not like to get into research activities. Irrespective of the subject, based on his or her potential an able student can shine in any field.

What are the new proposals/programmes for students you are planning to bring in?

We are looking at skill-oriented courses which improve employability. Work is in progress regarding this.

How is the University Infrastructure? It is rated as the 21st best University in the country?

In terms of infrastructure it is certainly one of the best ones in the State. Osmania University, established in the year 1918, is the seventh oldest university in the country, third oldest in South India and the oldest in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It was founded by His Exalted Highness Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Seventh Nizam of Hyderabad state. It was the first University to impart higher education through Urdu as the medium of instruction. It is the largest affiliated University in Asia with close to 800 affiliated colleges spread over three districts of Telangana (Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medak) providing academic and research facilities for nearly five lakh students. It was accredited with a ‘FIVE STAR’ rating by the NAAC in the year 2001, and
reaccredited with the highest grade ‘A’ in 2008.

According to a recent survey conducted by India Today-Nielson. The university has been ranked seventh among the top Indian Universities. Osmania is a  multi-faculty and multi-campus university offering comprehensive education with 12 faculties and 53 academic departments spread over eight campus and eight constituent colleges. It offers 21 academic courses at the UG level (with 125 combinations) and 72 at the PG level in addition to M.Phil. and Ph.D. Programmes in 27 and 54 disciplines respectively. It has strength of nearly 1000 teaching and 3500 non-teaching staff. Prof. G. Ram Reddy Centre for Distance Education offers around 48 UG, PG and professional courses in different  disciplines approved by DEC to nearly 50,000 students. The campus is also a home away from home for nearly 4000 international students from about 80 countries. It has forged academic collaborations with 20 National and 12 International organizations. The university has introduced several measures to achieve a paradigm shift from a teacher-centric approach to a learnercentric education.

RESEARCH ACTIVITIES of OSMANIA—

The research pursuits at the Univeristy are wide ranging, inter-disciplinary and of a high order. All the University Departments and as many as 23 specialized research centres have been performing exceedingly well in this arena.
Besides the project based work, research is also pursued through M.Phil. and Ph.D. programmes in 27 and 54 disciplines respectively.
The teaching faculty of many departments receives grants from UGC and other funding agencies to pursue their research. Twenty-two Departments are covered under the UGC Special Assistance Programme (SAP). Several of these are also recognized under COSIST/ASIST/ASHIHSS programmes.
Five departments have been selected as Centres for Advanced Studies (CAS). Twelve Departments receive funding under FIST program of DST. Many Departments of Science and Engineering faculties receive funding from UGC under BSR scheme.
Further, recognizing the research achievements and capabilities, a few agencies have extended grants to strengthen research in frontier areas.
The University College of Engineering and Technology has been selected for II-Phase (2011- 2014) of TEQIP Programme of MHRD under which a grant of Rs.15.00 crores from DBT to establish the Inter-disciplinary School of Life Science for Advanced Research and Education  (ISLARE) in addition to Rs.9.00 crores granted by the DST under PURSE scheme.

What are the new initiatives?

The University has launched several new initiatives in teaching, learning and research to keep pace with global trends in higher education. These initiatives are aimed at empowering the students with knowledge and skills, and improving their academic performance, and increasing their employability.

Does CBCS come under this?

Yes. Choice-based Credit System (CBCS) is a module with Project Work and Extra-disciplinary papers in all PG courses, such as Communicative English (I Semester), Practical Ethics, Human Rights and Environmental Concerns (II Semester), Personality Development and
Wellness (III Semester) and Community Work (IV Semester), Continuous Evaluation of the student through internal examinations, assignments, seminar presentations etc., introduced New Courses such as M.Sc.,(Computational Geophysics), M.Sc.,(Nanoscience), M.Sc.(Pharmaco Informatics), M. Pharm., PG Diploma in Radialogical Physics etc., job-oriented Degree, Diploma and Certificate courses in fields of healthcare, IT, and hospitality, Eligibility Test for admission into Ph.D. For instance, if the Chemistry student wants to take up other subjects like bio-chemistry etc from other department as electives, it is allowed, from other department. He can chose from Computer Science, Psychology etc. This is the credit system which gives them the choice to take what they want apart from their department subjects. Now we have restricted to within the dept.
What are the incentives for research scholars?

The University established Linkages with industry for promotion of sponsored research and consultancy, and also academic and research collaboration with many national and international organizations through MoUs. The University has established Technology Development Centre to promote incubation facilities for high-end research in Engineering and Technology and Commissioned Central Instrumentation Facility to provide high-end analytical and other research instruments with state-of-the-art modular and computing labs catering to research needs.
The University has taken a number of measures to enhance student empowerment through various support services such as career guidance, guidance, healthcare,  psychological counseling, mentoring, personality development, communication and soft skills development by establishing the Competitive Examinations Coaching Centre, Directorate of Placement Services, Sahayam, and augmenting facilities at English Language Training Centre, University Computer Centre and University Health Centre.

Non-boarders issue always seems to be there at Osmania?

Yes, in spite of strict vigilance there are outsiders living in the campus hostels, and several times we’ve tried to flush them out, but being an open campus we are more vulnerable to this.

It is said that PhD students are all above age bar and taking shelter in the name of M.phil/ PhD is it true?

It so happens that students who did not get employed for various reasons continue staying here. We are working on their employability too.

Does ragging still happen?

During the time of admissions, there is ‘mild’ teasing, which is the way of welcoming the freshers, but it is certainly not a severe ragging. We are watchful.

Could you tell us more about the project work here?

Project work is made compulsory for all the Post-Graduate Students with effect from the Academic year 2009-10 to enhance the practical knowledge of the students.
New Courses:
1. M.Pharmacy has been introduced at the University College of Technology. This is a prelude for carving out a separate faculty of Pharmacy at the University.
2. Post M.Sc. Diploma in Radiological Physics at  University College of Science in pursuance of MoU with MNJ Institute of Oncology and Indo American Cancer Research Centre
3. BBA course is being offered through Distance mode from this year.

You were talking about Counseling, can you please elaborate?

Psychological Counseling Centre at OU was inaugurated on 6.2.2010. Its called “SAHAYAM” (help) established by the Department of Psychology with funding from the University.
The objective of the centre is to provide Psychological services to the Faculty, Staff and Students in a professional manner. The services include(1) Counselling
a) Individual
b) Group
c) Career assessment
d) Psychological assessment
(2) Outreach / Training
a) Suicide prevention
b) Anti-ragging
c) Stress Management
d) Other psychological issue

What are the student support services you have here?
The University has taken a number of measures to enhance student support services. These include Competitive examinations coaching centre which was established to impart coaching to the students to prepare them for research fellowships such as CSIR, UGC etc.
Further, the students are also prepared for competitive examinations conducted by APPSC, Banks, other Governmental agencies etc. The coaching given is at par with the best of the private institutions. This helps the students in saving lot of time in commutation and also money.
Central Placement facility:
Apart from the placement cells at each of the colleges in the Campus, a Central placement Cell is also established to coordinate with various agencies such as NASCOM etc. to organize job melas on the campus.
Health cards to students:
Health card has been prepared for each PG student at the time of admission into the University from this year onwards. The card depicts the status of the health of the student and the possible treatment.
Student Mentoring and Counseling:
Since about 90 percent of the students of the University are first generation educated and hail from poor rural families and have completed their studies up to Under Graduation in Regional media, they require constant support. Hence, each teacher is given the responsibility of about six students to take adequate care of them. Internet facility is provided to all the students in the Hostels.

How about International students?

OU is a home away from home for nearly 3500 international students from about 70 countries pursuing different courses. The UFRO is the single window agency for admission of international students. The Degree Award Ceremony for Foreign Students was held on
25.7.2009. His Excellency Mr. Mustafa Ahmad Noman, Ambassador of Yemen was the Chief Guest. The foundation stone for the International Students Hostel costing Rs. 6.5 crores was laid on 25.2.2010.
The level-headed VC Mr Satyanarayan, who handled all kinds of students, intelligent, aggressive, and industrious and troublemongers in his long tenure, clearly has the ability to run the University and bring it back to its earlier glory.
He concludes with the note that Osmania University envisions becoming a hub of research excellence to cater to the requirements of upcoming Universities in the region.