Chennai: Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily today called for an end to universities adding programmes to generate funds and said the entire university system should be revamped to make them more universal.

Delivering the sixth convocation address at the SRM University at its campus in suburban Kattankulathur, he said the recent tendency by most of the varsities to add programmes with the aim of generating more funds must stop.

''There is a need to revamp the entire university system and define the size, scope and operation of universities very clearly,'' he added.

''Universities in India need to be made more 'universal' if they are to flourish,'' he noted.

Mr Moily said about 16,000 colleges were affiliated to 400-odd universities (excluding deemed and self-financed) aided by the Central and the State governments.

''Most of the states are opening up establishment of private universities to plug the gap between the need and availability of institutions for higher learning,'' he said, adding, ''barring a few exceptions, our universities are not universal in nature.''

Stating the latest ranking of world universities showed that India has a long way to go in higher education, Mr Moily said ''the once proud university system, the best in Asia after the Second World War, has fallen on very bad times.'' He said it's not that the Indian University Education has languished altogether. ''The IITs (even though they have a lot to answer for), IIMs and a host of other universities such as Delhi and JNU have brought high quality higher education to India.

Observing that the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the IIT Kharagpur were the only two Indian institutions figure in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2010 edition of Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Mr Moily said, ''it is a poor reflection of our universities, more than 480 in number, knowing that the Indian education system has produced some of the finest brains in the world, who are doing wonders in their respective fields.''

Calling upon the students to be the stewards and custodian of rich heritage of this nation, Mr Moily, quoting US President Barrack Obama who conquered the limitation of his environment and rose above the set line, wanted the students to draw a lesson from his life.

At the convocation, which was presided over by SRM University Chancellor T R Pachamuthu, eminent scientist and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister Dr Prof C N R Rao was conferred with the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) and Tata Consultancy Services CEO N Chandrasekaran the Doctor of Literature.

University Vice-Chancellor Prof P Sathyanarayanan presented the annual report of the university. In all 5,155 students from 89 disciplines, including 129 rank holders were awarded UG, PG and Diploma certificates, besides five doctotrates in the convocation.

Divyans Mahansaria of the Computer Science Engineering stream was awarded the Corporation Bank’s Gold medal for the best
outgoing student.

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