Prof Sunil Puri, Registrar of Shoolini University, completed his PhD almost 40 years ago and has remained associated with teaching at various Agricultural universities before joining Shoolini in 2007. In an interview with KHYAATI SHARMA, he talks about the priorities and plans for the University. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
How many courses are run by the University? Which are the most popular courses?
Presently, we have 74 courses running in six faculties. One of the most popular courses is Pharmacy in an undergraduate programme. We have a far lesser number of seats than the number of applicants for this course.
The other popular programmes are the Basic Sciences courses and Biotechnology courses in the postgraduate programmes where students seek admission as our research facilities are really good.
In management courses, MBA is most sought after. Although, the seats are fewer but we are planning to increase the MBA seats from 180 to 240 from this year. Every year, management tries to look after each and every aspect of the courses so as to deliver the best to the students.
What new courses are planned for 2018?
There are many courses which are planned this year. MSc Yoga is one of them. We are going to start some courses on the integrated programs in Engineering so that students who opt for this course can save at least one year. One of the prestigious programmes of Shoolini is the Elite Programme wherein only students are admitted who have more than 85 per cent of marks and the department provides fellowships to such students.
Then, in Biotechnology, we have the Summit Research Programme, where we have only 10 seats and the number of applicants is more than 100. Other new courses which we are planning to start include PhD program in Civil Engineering. Nanotechnology and Genomics which are some of the latest fields are about to be taken over by the university.
How can students approach you with their problems?
There are two ways. The first option is through the internet. There is an email i.e. email@example.com where students can simply drop a mail. Those mails are checked daily. Even if the students don’t want to send mail, the other way is that he/she can write an anonymous letter also. They can also approach verbally and discuss the issue. Any student who approaches us regarding the complaints and suggestions, we take it very seriously and action is taken very instantly.
Does the university have an anti-harassment cell too?
Yes, we have various committees. We have a sexual harassment committee and grievance committee too. When the matter is very serious and it comes to our notice, the grievance cell takes it over. We always try to resolve the problem of the students within the university premises. We have been successful and fortunately, our students have been very nice and cooperative. In my experience, I never heard any case of such a serious matter that cannot be resolved on our own basis.
What are Shoolini’s plans for the newly introduced courses?
The recruitment process of faculty has already started. We have advertised for many of the posts and to give a glimpse of that, we have received more than 1000 applicants from all across the country that is willing to join us for the new courses as well as the existing courses.
In addition to this, we are also focusing on the infrastructure. For example from the next academic session, we are starting up with BSc (Hons) Agriculture. We have already established farms and the inauguration was done on February 18. One of the farms is about 100 metres away from the university and the other is 2 kilometres away from the campus.
What are the various scholarship schemes which are offered by the university?
We have various types of scholarships. Broadly, there are two types of scholarships. One is awarded by the university and the other is awarded by the government to the students. Our policy is that the students should be made aware of those scholarships, particularly during orientation programmes.
Within the university, we have many scholarships. First is the sibling scholarship i.e. any brother-sister or two sisters or two brothers joining the university. Next, we have scholarships for the single girl child. We also provide BPL scholarships which is a great success along with SC/ST scholarships.
Besides, Inspire scholarships are also there. Those students who qualify for DST programmes get scholarships. We have a separate wing in the office that looks after the scholarship programmes of the university only. There are other scholarships also which we call earn while you learn.
Do you keep a record of the alumni?
Yes, we have a proper alumni record. Any student who is passing out has to fill up a form providing their contact details. Every year, there is an alumni association meeting in the university. To the best of my knowledge, more than 3000 students are there on the alumni list maintained by the university.
How do you ensure the confidentiality and accuracy of the students’ records?
Well, my colleagues do a very good job. They know that records are very confidential and we don’t pass them on. On the other hand, we are transparent on aspects that are important for the students.
How is working with Shoolini different from other educational institutions?
When we established this university, we decided to run a system part of agriculture and traditional universities. Credit and the choice-based system were adopted by Shoolini in the year 2009 when none of the traditional universities had this system. Even the UGC came up with the choice based credit system in the year 2015. Shoolini’s system is the best, be it in education or research or any academic area.
Any experience of your lifetime which transformed you?
Joining Shoolini University definitely transformed my vision. Initially, when I was working with the government universities, my outlook towards the private education system was very narrow. But when I became a part of the private university education system, my vision also broadened.