The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the Conference of Vice Chancellors of Central Universities (CUs) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said, "India can be a world leader in education, if only we discover the will and leadership to take us to that pinnacle."
The President advised MHRD, UGC and the CUs to sit together and take action to improve the governance system and structures. He also requested them to engage their alumni in the governance of Universities. He further called upon the MHRD and CUs to prepare a data-base of alumni who can be involved in the governance of CUs.
The President said most Central Universities continue to suffer from an acute shortage of faculty. The vacancy figure which stood at 6,422 last year is now down to only 4,784, which shows just 25 per cent of the vacant posts have been filled up.
The President called upon Central Universities to be the launch pads of innovative ideas and institutionalize structures that can identify ingenuous ideas and mentor them into viable products. He asked the Conference to discuss measures to strengthen the ecosystem for research in Universities.
Expressing concern over the lack of Indian universities in ranking of top Universities of the world, the President asked the CUs to take the ranking process seriously and appoint a nodal authority to present their achievements to the ranking agencies in proper perspective.
The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, while addressing the gathering said, "The Rashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan which our Government has launched should go a long way in expanding access to Higher Education opportunities.
The programme gives enhanced attention to State universities for improving their quality of education and research. It aims to create 278 new universities and 388 new colleges and to convert 266 colleges to Model Degree Colleges by the end of the 13th Plan, apart from providing infrastructure grants to 286 State universities and 8500 State colleges. It will cumulatively create 20,000 new faculty positions and support them in the 12th and 13th Plan Periods."
Among the other dignitaries present on the occasion were Dr. M.M. Pallam Raju, Union Minister for Human Resource Development; Dr. Shashi Tharoor and Shri Jitin Prasada, Ministers of State for Human Resource Development; Shri Ashok Thakur, Secretary, Higher Education; Prof. Ved Prakash, Chairman, University Grants Commission and Vice Chancellors of 40 Central Universities.