Expansion without quality serves no purpose: PM to V-Cs

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday told the Vice Chancellors of universities that the government will now on give overriding emphasis on quality as expansion without quality improvement serves little purpose. The PM was addressing the Conference of Vice Chancellors in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

"We must recognize that too many of our higher educational institutions are simply not up to the mark. Too many of them have simply not kept abreast with the rapid changes that have taken place in the world around us in recent years, still producing graduates in subjects that the job market no longer requires. It is a sobering thought for us that not one Indian university figures in the top 200 universities of the world today," he said.

He said the Indian higher education system is often criticised for its unnecessary rigidity for students and faculty alike. He called for ways to make the system flexible so that institutions can attract quality faculty, improve teaching standards and also foster research. He said the 12th Plan stresses on the momentum generated in the last 10 years and continuing the focus on expansion, equity and excellence. He also asked the Central Universities to set standards for higher education in the country.

President Pranab Mukherjee, also the Visitor to Central Universities, revived the meet after nearly a decade. In his address, he expressed concern on the decline in quality across educational institutions.

He referred to the National Knowledge Commission Report, which talked of this decline in terms of the "quiet crisis that runs deep".

He said the system faces challenges from the flight of intellectual capital and dearth of academic talent in key institutes.

Four Vaishno Devi pilgrims among five killed in mishap

Five people, including four Vaishno Devi pilgrims, were killed while seven injured when the vehicle they were travelling in was hit by a speeding truck near Vijaypur, on the Kathua-Jammu national highway Monday night.

Police said the victims were on their way to Katra, the base camp to the Vaishno Devi shrine. Poor visibility and slippery road conditions due to heavy rain caused the accident, they said.

The pilgrims were from Patiala and have been identified as Mangat Singh, Ekta Malhotra, Mamta Malhotra and Saloni. The fifth victim, the driver of the tempo, was identified as Hans Raj.

Meanwhile, thousands of people were left stranded at various places between Jammu and the Valley due to snowfall.

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