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Najma Akhtar: Taking Jamia Into The Top League
Jamia Millia Islamia’s Vice Chancellor Najma Akhtar is focussed on imparting 21st Century Skills to her students and being at the forefront of research
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Steering the central university of Jamia Millia Islamia during a turbulent phase, and overseeing its emergence as the third ranked university in NIRF rankings in 2022, is its first lady Vice-Chancellor, Najma Akhtar. Heading a university that has a brilliant legacy of over 100 years – the university was born during the Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920 – and ensuring its role as a leading higher education provider catering to 21st Century R&D, skilling, and employability needs, is no mean achievement, but Akhtar has been doing it silently.
New courses have started and now the ambit of courses – from bachelors to PhD – is as vast as Energy Sciences, Computational Mathematics, Microbiology, Virology (which has become crucial in the wake of Covid), Hotel Management, Architecture and Planning, Design and Innovation, and languages, including Korean, besides vocational courses.
The VC is keen that the courses should make students employable and the placement cell works day and night to get the students placed, well in time, before the course ends. The university organises job readiness workshops, mock interviews and extension lectures by industry professionals.
Women To The Fore
Belying stereotypes, Jamia has a lot of girl students in its engineering branches and scientific research programmes. Girl students from first generation learners are making a change in their whole families. Akhtar shares that she also encourages girls to join the Armed forces. The university reaches out to girl students not just on the campus but in several urban centres and a few rural ones too.
Much work is being done in research, with an increased emphasis on collaboration, joint research and multidisciplinary work. “We are fortunate to have good researchers, who were doing their work individually; now they are doing it collectively, identifying the areas of national importance. These are relevant researches,” says Akhtar.
The university’s research infrastructure has been augmented. The DST grant of Rs 15 crore has led to the university getting sophisticated instruments, and in setting up of a Central Instrumentation Facility. The university allows this infrastructure to be used by researchers of other universities too. The university had 11 patents granted to it in the current academic year.
It’s research and academic thrust is further enhanced by partnerships, including 70 MoUs with the University of Virginia, the University of Erfurt (Germany), University of Westminster (UK), the Korea Foundation, among others. These “vibrant” MoUs provide opportunities for joint research and student and faculty exchange, she says.
In Sync with NEP
All praise for NEP, Akhtar says, “This is something we have been waiting for a very long time. This is a futuristic policy which understands the problems of today and plans for tomorrow.”
She says that after much brainstorming over the implementation of components of NEP, like multiple entries and exits, Bank of Credit, a switch to four-year degree courses, the university is ready to implement NEP.