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New Nalsar VC plans academic revolution: Widen curriculum, cater to industry, lure alumni to teach

Faizan Mustafa: Big plans
Faizan Mustafa: Big plans
Exclusive: Nalsar Hyderabad’s newly appointed vice chancellor (VC) Prof Faizan Mustafa plans to make drastic changes to the undergraduate law degree syllabus and credit system, introduce new courses designed by practising lawyers, and target alumni faculty recruitment.

Mustafa said that 20 out of the 50 courses of Nalsar’s five year LLB degree would become optional, as 17 new papers would be added to the current list of three elective courses.

“I am going to give a huge choice to my students in terms of electives,” he said.

In the present scheme, there are 47 compulsory papers out of a total of 50, despite the Bar Council of India (BCI) rules requiring only 30 compulsory papers, which Mustafa said was “not a healthy state of affairs”.

“I feel a university which does not offer too many courses cannot truly speaking claim to be a university in the real sense of the term.”

Reforming Shameerpet
Reforming Shameerpet

The number of lecture hours allotted to every course would also change under the proposal. One credit would be awarded for every 16 hours of taking a course, and hours for each course would be re-allocated based on the number of credits required.

“In the best universities of the world credit is given on the basis of the number of lectures which you take for the course,” said Mustafa, explaining that the new system envisaged a total of 80 credits from the electives, out of the total of 200 credits that are required to obtain the LLB degree.

The move is aimed towards introducing easy credit transferability, a system which is compatible with leading international universities, he said.

He told Legally India that the proposal, details of which were chalked out in a faculty meeting this month, had received an enthusiastic response from students and would be tabled before Nalsar’s academic council.

No more mismatch between teaching and industry needs, vows Mustafa
No more mismatch between teaching and industry needs, vows Mustafa
He also noted that new courses would be introduced that met the immediate requirements of the legal industry, which would be designed by practicing professionals from the industry.

“There has been a mismatch between the demands of the industry and the courses offered by law schools. I had a long talk on this with Khaitan & Co when they came for recruitment yesterday and with Luthra & Luthra and Amarchand few days ago. We want to have a very close relationship between the industry and the university.”

Mustafa also planned to bring Nalsar alumni back to campus as faculty.

“I have been in touch with our alumni. They need to come back to Nalsar in order to take it to the zenith of academic excellence. And I am glad to share with you that my alumni from Oxford, Yale, LSE, Berkeley have given an overwhelming response. They are quite enthusiastic about the changes we propose to make at Nalsar.”

“We have innovated selective schemes which can be implemented only when we get good teachers. There are some big plans for recruitment as well, in the next coming academic session.”

A 3-judge panel investigating into the university’s affairs last year had noted that applications of competent Nalsar alumni returning from Oxford and other prestigious LLM universities, for appointment to faculty posts at Nalsar, were rejected despite student grievances about a wide gulf between course design and course execution at Nalsar.

Not hiring Nalsar alumni was reportedly justified citing older University Grant Commission (UGC) norms that prescribed a two-year LLM as the minimum qualification for professors. Those requirements were abolished in 2010 with new regulations.

Mustafa said he now looked forward to alumni involvement in his various proposed curricular experiments. “Just like IITs and IIMs alumni, they are to be involved in all our programs in a big way.”

Mustafa was formerly the VC of NLU Cuttack Orissa (NLUO), from where he resigned to assume the post of VC at Nalsar from 1 April 2012. NLUO’s new VC Chandra Krishnamurthy was selected yesterday.

He noted that the distinct multidisciplinary approach adopted in the undergraduate law curriculum at NLUO was instrumental in giving the “third generation law school” its current standing of a “true university”.

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