India’s premier Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which offers specialised courses in humanities and sciences is considering diversifying — into medicine.
An official document to be placed at University’s apex academic council (AC) on Tuesday proposes the creation of a medical school and a 500-bed hospital offering super speciality treatment, including critical services in cardiology, organ transplant, neurology, and pulmonology, along which “non-conventional departments” with 50% faculty posts reserved for scientists. The cost of the project is estimated at ₹900 crore.
According to the document, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT, the proposal has been prepared by a committee that includes members from premier health institutions including AlIMS and NIMHANS. The document states that the proposal is in accordance with the JNU Act 1966 and the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
“ NEP emphasizes multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teaching and research… The JNU Act also focuses on expanding and providing access to medical and health-care research…. Establishing a medical school with a hospital will fulfil the objective on which the University has been established and it will be a stepping stone to achieve the visions of NEP 2020,” the document states.
The University proposes to establish the school and the hospital on a 25-acre land available at its campus and will offer undergraduate, and postgraduate courses in all the disciplines. The admission to MBBS and MD courses will be done through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) conducted by the National Testing Agency, the proposal states. However, it doesn’t specify the number of seats that will be on offer
M Jagadesh Kumar, the vice chancellor of JNU did not respond to calls and texts seeking comment. JNU Rector RP Singh, who is also a member of the committee that prepared the proposal, said he will not be able to comment before the AC meeting.
Under Kumar’s tenure, an engineering school and a management school have already been established at the JNU campus in 2018 and 2019, respectively, amid opposition from both the elected teachers and students’ bodies. The University had also witnessed several protests by students and teachers against the “high fee structure” of these two schools. Both schools are yet to get their own buildings.
Two AC members who asked not to be named confirmed receiving the proposal as a part of an additional agenda sent by the University administration ahead of the Tuesday meeting, and termed it as “another attempt to change the character of the University”.
“In Delhi, there are several super-speciality hospitals and research institutes including AIIMS and Safdurjung. What is the need of it? We do not need more super-speciality hospitals. All we need to do is improve the existing ones. But this caretaker vice chancellor, who has no right to take any decision during his extended tenure, is making continuous efforts to change the character of the University/ We will oppose this in the meeting on Tuesday,” said one of them.
Kumar’s tenure as JNU V-C was to end on January 26, but the education ministry on January 22 directed that Kumar be allowed to continue in his position “until further orders”. The recruitment process of the new JNU VC is still underway.
Meanwhile, the JNU Teachers Association (JNUTA) on Monday said that it will write to the union education ministry raising the matter. “The VC has no right to make any decision for the University when he himself is on extension. How will the University raise so much funds? We will raise the matter with the ministry,” said JNUTA secretary Moushumi Basu.
According to the proposal, in the 500-bed hospital, the University will establish super speciality departments including surgical oncology, organ transplant, cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, pathology, biochemistry and neurosurgery, among others. “JNU may consider establishing non-conventional departments such as international medicine, alternative medicine, experimental medicine…In these research oriented centers/departments, at least 50% faculty positions may be reserved for scientists,” the proposal added.
The plan involves hiring 259 faculty members and the total estimated budget of the project is ₹900 crore. Once approved, the project will be completed in three years, says he proposal. Hindustan Times