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Post Covid-19: Country, people should be future ready: UoH VC Appa Rao

G Naga Sridhar Hyderabad | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

Appa Rao Podile, Vice-Chancellor, UoH

Covid-19 and after: India and its people should be future-ready, says VC, University of Hyderabad

Covid-19 and the lockdown have pushed youngsters into a quandary due to uncertainty over academic schedules and job prospects. As one of the top-ranking universities in the country, University of Hyderabad (UoH), is working on delivering its best to students in this time of crisis. BusinessLine spoke to its Vice-Chancellor, Appa Rao Podile, a noted scientist, on Covid-19’s impact and the road ahead. Excerpts:

What kind of impact do you see on higher education due to Covid-19 and the lockdown?

The pandemic’s impact on higher education is to be seen in different ways. Several students will have difficulty in getting their degrees on time and employers who have offered them jobs may not be able to wait till they get the degrees. This is the problem faced by students who have campus placements. Definitely, out-of-the-course content, about one-tenth of it, could not be learnt by them. There could be some gaps, which will have to be bridged.

Will a switch-over online education be of help?

Yes. It is being done by UoH and others wherever possible. But there are issues. Students’ access to internet resources, quality of signal and affordability are challenges. There is also a need for associated services for online education, such as uninterrupted power supply. Some of them depend on telephone lines for net connectivity, which is again crucial. Not all students will have an opportunity to learn online with the same flexibility as they can in a traditional system. We are working hard to reach students through different routes despite these challenges. When we reopen, there will be different challenges. Maintaining physical distance in classes, the mess, and laboratories, will be a problem.

Do you see delay in the next academic year?

Yes. It will be delayed to some extent. How long, we can’t say. When students will feel comfortable to come back from home by bus, train or flight, we don’t know now. The UGC is working on one scenario where the academic year can get pushed to September. But if things improve, it may be advanced. The situation is dynamic now.

What about UoH admissions for the next academic year?

We have released the admission notification and are accepting online applications. The last date has now been extended till May 22. As per original schedule, entrance examinations are slated for June first week. But we will review the entrance exam dates as and when required.

How is UoH taking part in the fight against the pandemic?

UoH has already been recognised as a centre for testing. We are doing it in collaboration with outside labs as of now but have also set up laboratories of required bio safely levels. Soon, we expect to start direct testing of samples after necessary approvals. Collaborations with industry for vaccine development are also on.

How do you see our response to Covid19 as of now? What is your advice for post Covid19 measures?

Undoubtedly, Government of India as well as Telangana State Government have taken timely and proactive measures so that our situation is far better than that of many other countries. However, to tackle this kind of unseen and inexplicable health hazards, we need to increase public health infrastructure and vaccine development capabilities. We have great resources and need to harness them. The country and people should be future-ready.

How are you ensuring functional continuity of the university in the lockdown period?

We are using technology tools. We are reaching out to our board of governors of Institution of Eminence. Review of research plans submitted by faculty is happening. In fact, there is a greater spurt in research proposals of faculty after lockdown as well as submission of research manuscripts for publication. We are doing all that can be done.

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Published on April 29, 2020
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