Professor Najma Akhtar, the first woman Vice Chancellor in Jamia Millia Islamia’s 99-year-old history, says her aim was not to break the glass ceiling but she was against its very existence.
Akhtar, who feels a woman brings a different perspective to administration, says her dream is to establish a medical college at Jamia during her tenure apart from working towards modernizing outdated courses, generate funds for the varsity and have international collaborations. Understanding what the students want will be one of the key focus area of Akhtar, who was earlier associated with the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA).
She assumed charge of the varsity on Friday, a day after the HRD Ministry announced her appointment following a green signal from the Election Commission as the Model Code of Conduct is in place. As soon as her car entered the varsity campus, she was greeted with cries of ‘VC zindabad’.
“My aim was not to break the glass ceiling but I was definitely against the glass ceiling. Why is it even there, if you hold the same educational qualifications and experience?
In general women believe that they won’t be chosen because there are so many men in the fray, Akhtar said. “Personally, you need a different point of view coming from a woman to run a university. We are not factories, we are dealing with young students. “There is no role model for a woman to be an administrator. If you come forward, you will handle it differently and many will definitely follow it later,” she said.
When asked about the things she has in mind for the varsity, she said, “I will be talking to the girls as well as male students and find out what is hurting them. I cannot come up with a prescription. Everything that I end up doing will be based on what is needed here.” At a time, when according to Akhtar, every university is starving for funds, she said she will ensure the varsity gets the best possible funds.
“Whatever I can take for Jamia, I will take it. Every university is starving for funding. I will try and get funding from the government. If we approach the government rightly, funding will not be a problem. “We also have to learn to earn. That is what the government wants. For long, the central universities are being spoon fed by the funding of the government,” she said.
Akhtar said the varsity does not lag behind in research and has its patents and research papers. “We have scientists. What is the support system they need? Many a times, there is scarcity of funds or there is a lack of hand holding. People will be telling me what they need. Collaboration, nationally and internationally, will be my important thing,” she stressed.
Akhtar, in her stint with NUEPA, had got foreign funding and funds from the Ministry of External Affairs for some programmes and said she would look to that and even towards the industry for funds since the industries also want people who can do research for them.
Apart from encouraging research, Akhtar also intends to start new courses and will be brainstorming about it with the various departments. “I will be interacting with the deans, heads of departments, the executive council and the Academic Council and try to find out which department is lagging in which area and giving out outdated courses. “There are some courses that are not needed and there are some areas in which we need new courses in consultation with the industry so that they become job-oriented. “Either we replace them or we modify them or we modernize them. Jamia needs new courses and I feel many areas have old-fashioned courses
She also stressed the fact that those steeping out of the varsity should be capable enough to become job-givers.
“Everyone who is coming out is now is looking for a job. Let them be the job giver. Let them take the responsibility of beginning new start-ups. We have to see where we can get the funds from. We need funding and hand holding,” she opined.
She also stressed on the need for having more international students. “International students take our university to their country because they go there as Jamia alumni and they also bring funding in some way. Every department has to enrol for foreign students. If we will collaborate with best universities, and our people go and stay there for sometime and they come here and stay here and that is definitely on my agenda,” she added.
There has been demand from the faculty for having a medical college in the varsity, something that also figures on her list.
“Ideally, Jamia should have a medical college and we are going towards it. We have paramedical and dental courses. Every VC who comes here will say we will build a medical college but it is not an easy task. “If we were a private entity, we would have done it easily but we will definitely try. It is my dream that during my tenure a medical college comes up here and we are capable of handling it.
With the university completing 100 years in 2020, Akhtar said she will form a committee that will decide on the events which will be held through the year to celebrate the milestone. PTI SLB SLB TDS TDS