The nation’s oldest university, Tribhuvan University (TU), has been suffering from multiple problems, causing serious academic sclerosis. Once considered as the centre of educational excellence, TU used to boast of producing graduates of high intellectual calibre. Its faculties, affiliated campuses and research institutes used to deliver quality education and outstanding research work. Sad to say, its academic standards went down with the undue political interference and excessive partisan politics. It is an irony that its decline coincided with the advent of multiparty democracy. Democratic polity is supposed to promote greater academic autonomy and healthy competitive environment. But, in TU’s case, parochial politics undermined meritocracy, which eventually deprived it of professional freedom to flourish with excellence, creativity and energy. When the key posts in TU and its affiliated colleges were filled with individuals having loyalty to certain political parties, meritocracy naturally took a backseat. The governing political parties could pick up talent and dynamic persons for the top posts and decision-making positions but they did not give a fig for its quality and vibrancy, and recruited their kith, cadres and sycophants who lacked original ideas to lift its standards on par with the world’s renowned varsities.
The TU also failed to get adequate resources and priorities from the successive governments. As the nation was forced to reel from prolonged transition, the TU also became the victim of this political malaise. It needed budget to build new infrastructure required to impart quality education to the rising number of students. But lack of investment in the higher education did not allow the TU to be technology-friendly, innovative and efficient. In order to break new ground in science, commerce and humanities, the state must pump money into conducting research and development. Incompetent teachers, deteriorating infrastructure, inept management and outdated technology neither attract cream students nor shape them into proficient workforce. This is a reason why a large number of Nepali students prefer to enroll in private academic institutes or go abroad for higher studies. Likewise, the TU has not been able to be a vibrant platform for quality seminars and symposiums. Today the political leadership and the government have realised the need for revamping the largest state-run university so that it can supply the skilled and talented human resources to meet the new challenges of republican Nepal.
Against this backdrop, newly appointed TU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Dharma Kanta Baskota unveiled a 15-point action plan to meet the target of TU Vision 2030 at its senate on Friday. According to the news report of this daily, VC Baskota sought to improve TU’s physical infrastructure, make it technology friendly, devise research-oriented academic programmes, implement academic calendar, and improve and decentralise the examination system. The work plan aims to generate capable human resources, build the capacity of professors and manage credit transfer through student exchange with international universities. This scheme sounds ambitious but not unattainable. The new leadership must win the confidence of government to pool the required resources in addition to mustering the critical support from other stakeholders such as political parties, teachers, employees, and students and their unions to realise its grand vision of academic transformation by 2030.