Similarly, the Government would examine the feasibility of creating one Centre of Excellence in each of the major universities of Tamil Nadu in selected fields of arts and sciences, which are of special relevance to the State. The guidelines for identification of institutions and special areas for creating Centres of Excellence will be formulated by the Government.
The Government would also examine the feasibility of taking necessary steps to attract the most talented students from the first degree level to undertake advanced postgraduate education and research. This would cover all important fields in Arts and Sciences. Initially this will be tried in six thrust areas – Biosciences, Material Sciences, Linguistics, Computer Sciences, Economic Sciences and Mathematics. This will later be extended to other important disciplines.
In the undergraduate programme, the Government would ensure that all students, before they obtain their first degree, would have undergone a minimum of 150 hours of computer training to enable them to use computers with confidence, to apply the computer knowledge to their specific discipline and to enable them to secure employment, after their graduation. Initially this will cover all the 60 Government colleges in the State and gradually extended to other aided colleges and private institutions.
The Government would expand the career-oriented courses for the benefit of the students in arts and science colleges to enable them to acquire knowledge and experience to secure placements after their graduation. The structure of their curriculum and syllabi would be reviewed and updated in order to incorporate sufficient flexibility to include the career-oriented courses in their first-degree programme.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that Tamil Nadu has the largest number of accredited institutions. As a policy, the Government encourage every higher education institution in the State to opt for assessment and accreditation either by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) in the case of arts and science colleges and universities or by National Accreditation Board (NAB) in the case of technical institutions. In order to meet the criteria for accreditation, institutions are encouraged to undertake development of new curriculum and improve the quality of teaching, learning and administration. The Government would provide support for orientation of faculty and administrators of these institutions to achieve a high accreditation grades.
In order to bring out the special talents of students in the fields of sports and games, the Government encourage colleges and universities to take special measures in strengthening their physical education capabilities.
The use of Internet is now becoming prolific in the State and the Universities are coming forward to take advantage of the recent developments in information technology. Consequently, all universities will be linked through a common website in which each university will have its special identity. The expectations of the students and public to be aware of the programmes and activities of the universities will be met by displaying relevant information in their individual websites. This will include information regarding their governance, affiliated colleges, courses offered, qualifications, examinations, admission policies, research, grants, publications, library information, etc.
Suitable initiative has been taken to link all the libraries of the universities to provide for easy access to their educational resources such as journals, books, CD-ROMs and other important reports. Since the cost of books and journals is increasing at a rapid rate, it will be possible for every student and faculty member in any university to be able to take advantage of the collections available in other libraries. After the Internet backbones become available, universities will have special facility to speedily access the resources of other libraries anywhere in the world and acquire them at a very rapid rate. The university libraries would be made accessible not only to the academic community, but also to the public at large, in due course.
Taking due advantage of the recent advances in information technology, a large number of universities the world over is offering Internet-based courses. It is creditable that many universities in Tamil Nadu have taken the unique initiative to offer Internet-based courses to meet the requirements of other institutions in the State as well as to provide distant learning opportunities through the use of Internet. The Government of Tamil Nadu encourages the higher education institutions in the State to enter into collaborative arrangements with advanced institutions abroad in promoting Internet-based educational programmes in highly specialised areas. The Government would encourage academic institutions, which would be able to promote marketing of their educational programmes in other parts of the country as well as abroad.
The recent years have been witnessing higher proportion of women enrolling themselves in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in arts and sciences as well as in engineering and management. Presently, about 40 and 45% of the student strength of the postgraduate programmes in the State and about 50 and 55% of student strength of undergraduate programmes are women. The record of achievement of women students in terms of medals, prizes and ranks is also very high. The traditional inhibition in providing employment opportunity to women has also been declining considerably. It is also a policy of the State to promote the participation of women at all levels of higher education, especially the levels that require special talents, knowledge and skill. The Government will consider providing special incentives to women students who wish to pursue doctoral studies.