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Rajashekharaiah leaves VTU on strong foundation

By Our Staff Correspondent

BELGAUM, MARCH 30. Dr. S. Rajashekharaiah may be fully satisfied with his performance as the first Vice-Chancellor of the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), and he may not suffer from any feeling of guilt of any sort as he walks out of office on Saturday, the last day of his ``scandal-free'' three- year term.

The apparent rejection by the Governor's Office of a plea to grant a second term to Dr. Rajashekharaiah, who took up the post on deputation from the engineering college at Bagalkot, appears to have disappointed some persons including members of the university staff. Mr. Jairaj, who has been serving as his personal secretary, says he has no reason to continue in the university, and he will to return to his post at the engineering college at Bagalkot. He will assume office on Monday along with Dr. Rajashekharaiah, who will take charge as Principal of the college. The possibility of a few others who are on deputation from other institutions following suit is not ruled out. Dr. Balaveera Reddy has been named the new Vice-Chancellor of the VTU.

A challenge: It was on April 1, 1998, that Dr. Rajashekharaiah assumed office as Vice-Chancellor. When he arrived in a taxi from Bagalkot, he found that he would have to make do with a 10 feet by 12 feet room for an office. There was neither a chair nor a table. He saw a challenge in the situation, and decided to do his best: he began work sitting on the floor. This continued for nearly a month. Later, the K.L.E. Society handed over to the VTU a building on the premises of its medical college. Things have looked up from then on for the university.

The VTU was expected to play a role in improving the standard of engineering and technological education in the State. It had the arduous task of bringing in uniformity vis-a-vis syllabus and examination system among engineering colleges providing 30 disciplines. The university achieved these objectives within 75 days after its establishment.

Having set out to improve quality besides infusing a higher degree of efficiency and transparency in the system, the VTU authorities took steps for computerising the evaluation system and introducing devices to eliminate foul play. The results of the examinations held under the new system were declared within one month, and recently, they were made available on the Internet for the convenience of students, Dr. Rajashekharaiah says.

He says that a new system giving freedom to students to take up electives of their own choice from the fifth semester has been introduced. With the objective of ensuring cooperation between the university and industry, students have been allowed to appear for examinations of a subsequent semester in advance, and devote one full semester to project work. This will give them more exposure, and enable them to acquire greater understanding of industrial production and management.

Pact with CIDAC: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with CIDAC. The MoU will enable a student to obtain a ``double degree'' by passing examinations of an additional course which he feels is relevant to his main course. The university will issue degree certificates along with CIDAC. Such a system has been made available in seven colleges.

Under another agreement, Motorola has supplied electronic communication equipment worth Rs. 2 crores to 70 engineering colleges free. Another milestone for the VTU is the training imparted to 120 teachers by experts from the U.K., the U.S. and Israel. As for extra-curricular activities, the VTU has hosted inter-collegiate and inter-university sports events and set up NSS organisations in 55 colleges.

Dr. Rajashekharaiah, who is thankful to the institutions and individuals who have extended cooperation to the VTU, says that he has done his best within limitations. To ensure that a building is constructed for the VTU, 115 acres of land has been acquired at Rs. 10,000 per acre at Machche on the outskirts of Belgaum city. In the first phase of a two-phase programme, Rs. 20 crores will invested. The master plan for a ``VTU complex'' is ready. Efforts are being made to acquire land for the university's regional offices in Bangalore, Mysore and Gulbarga. The Academic council and Senate were constituted last month, he adds.

He says he was working on the concept of ``paperless examination'' which is in vogue in some of the Western universities and also in institutions in India offering computer courses. Under the system, a student will be given objective-type questions which he will have to answer on a computer within three hours (the clock starts ticking from the time the student logs in). However, a study has to be made before taking any final decision on introducing such a concept, he adds.

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