COIMBATORE: It is not for nothing that Tamil Nadu is hailed as a hub for higher education. The State has the highest number of universities and university-level institutions in the country.
A brochure on higher education released by the University Grants Commission (UGC) shows that Tamil Nadu has 59 universities, including State-run, Centrally-funded and deemed universities.
Surprisingly, Uttar Pradesh comes next with 58 universities followed by Rajasthan with 48.
Interestingly, the number of universities in the country has also increased exponentially, from just 30 in 1951 to 634 at the end of 2011.
Of this, 297 are State-run institutions, 43 are Central universities and 65 are national university-level institutions. The rest (100) are private and deemed universities (129).
â€śIn fact, Tamil Nadu is the first in the country to have established exclusive universities for sports education (established during the AIADMK regime) and Teachers Education (established during the DMK regime) in the past decade,â€ť an official in the State Higher Education Department pointed out.
â€śRecently, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced that an exclusive Fisheries University would be set up in the coastal Nagapattinam district,â€ť the official added.
Incidentally, a Horticulture University proposed in Krishnagiri district by the previous DMK government is in the nascent stage. Also, during her previous tenure, Jayalalithaa had promised to set up an exclusive Aviation University in Vellore, which did not materialise.
However, academics warn against getting carried away by mere numbers.
â€śWe should not forget that Tamil Nadu also has the highest number â€” as many as 16 â€” deemed universities which have been blacklisted by an HRD Ministry review committee. This means only the remaining 13 deemed universities have made the grade, of which 11 have been granted time by the review panel to set right certain deficiencies within a timeframe,â€ť a senior academician said.
Some deemed universities like VIT, SASTRA, SRM, Sathyabama and Amrita, have, however, attracted global attention in recent times with research and academic collaboration with reputable institutions.
UGC statistics also revealed that Maharashtra has the highest number of colleges â€” 4,631. Andhra Pradesh comes second with 4,066 colleges, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 3,859 colleges, as of 2011. Tamil Nadu has 2,267 colleges.