Professors oppose renaming of Anna University

Professors oppose renaming of Anna University

Tamil Nadu government’s decision to bifurcate Anna University, the premier engineering institute in the state, and change its original name has led to a major controversy with teaching and non-teaching staff taking objection to the move.

While all affiliated colleges, including those owned by the government and private individuals, would come under the Anna University, four institutes, including the prestigious College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), and the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), which are originally part of the varsity will now be known as Anna Technological and Research University (ARTU).

Professors and former Vice-Chancellors of Anna University scoff at the renaming of the “parent institute” saying the move would only benefit private colleges as the name “Anna University” is known worldwide. As a mark of their opposition to the move, professors will wear black badges from Monday.

Certificates of students who graduate from CEG, MIT, School of Architecture and Planning (SAP) and Alagappa College of Technology (ACTECH) will no more carry the tag “Anna University”, the professors say, adding that it will be the “biggest injustice” to the students and the university as a whole. They are also worried about funding for ARTU as the institute is involved in several research activities.

“Anna University is known across the world and these four institutes constitute the varsity. The government wants to snatch the name from us and give it to private colleges whose students will get certificates in the name of Anna University and those who graduate from here will carry the new name of ARTU. Who knows what is ARTU?” a professor asked. 

Anna University was formed in the 1970s by bringing CEG, MIT, SAP and ACTECH under it, while private engineering colleges were affiliated to the University of Madras and other varsities that functioned in various cities of the state. In 2002, all engineering colleges in the state were brought under the control of Anna University and the government had last week moved a bill in the Assembly seeking to bifurcate the varsity for “administrative purposes.”.

“While we have preserved the institute’s name for so many decades through our hard work, it is nothing but stealing the name and fame from us and giving it to private colleges. Why is the parent institution is denied its original name while the child gets the parent’s name? We would have been happy even if we had been called Anna University of Tamil Nadu,” I Arul Aram, former president of Anna University Teachers’ Association (AUTA), told Deccan Herald.  

Former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University and author, E Balagurusamy, went a step ahead to charge the Tamil Nadu government of succumbing to the “pressure” from private engineering colleges. He questioned the need to rename the parent institute and “gift” the name to the newly-created institute.

“I have no qualms in saying that the government has made a terrible mistake here. They could have given any name but Anna University to the institute that manages the affiliated colleges. The government had no business to play with the name of the university. CEG is one of the oldest engineering colleges in India and it is being robbed of its eminent status. This is ridiculous,” Balagurusamy told Deccan Herald.

He also questioned the logic behind changing the name of the mother university and sought to know whether the government was helping the private institutes many of which are owned by politicians. Prof. Arul Aram said the move to rename Anna University amounts to Intellectual Property Rights theft and breach of trust on the part of the government.

“When the management of Anna University protested against its renaming in 2019, the government assured them that the name will not be tampered with. But today the name of the university has been gifted to private colleges while we have been given a new name. This is nothing but breach of trust,” Aram said.