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The year of new universities for Odisha. It is also the beginning of a new paradigm in higher education with introduction of choice-based credit system (CBCS) at the undergraduate level.
The state government upgraded three erstwhile colleges into universities: Rama Devi Women's University, Gangadhar Meher University and Khallikote Cluster University. Earlier, the state assembly passed Birla Global University Bill in the winter session earlier this month for establishment of a private university.
Besides this, the Odisha State Open University and VSS Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMSAR), also with university status, became functional with their upgraded status this year, though the bills for the same were passed last year.
Elite B-school Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Sambalpur, announced by the Union government last year, became operational this year. The Centre promised another national level institute, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, this year. By picking Berhampur for IISER and Sambalpur for IIM, the government tried to send a signal that it wanted to regional parity in education.
Making his own assessment of 2015, higher education minister said, the year would be remembered for several landmark initiatives. Apart from the new universities, the government after so many years recruited significant number of faculty members for the universities and provided liberal funding for upgrade their infrastructure.
All universities and 32 autonomous colleges introduced CBCS, an interdisciplinary approach to learning, at the at the Plus III level. Ashok Das, vice chancellor of Utkal University said, "It can be counted as one of the biggest milestones in higher education in 2015.
Another notable step taken by the government this year is introduction of three-month short-term spoken English course for undergraduate students to prepare job-ready workforce by imparting them soft skills. The government started this course in 25 colleges. To encourage students from economically weaker sections pursue higher and professional education, the state government announced to subsidize study loans this year. The Odisha State Interest Subvention Scheme (OSISS) provides subsidy in education loan interest at 4 per cent for boys and 6 per cent for girls.
State premier Utkal University witnessed massive unrest this year. During a road blockage by the agitating students in September, a woman was caught in a traffic jam at Vanivihar Square and died.