National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration Professor Najma Akhtar was on Thursday appointed Vice Chancellor of New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, becoming the first woman to head the 99-year-old university.
Akhtar’s appointment was approved by President Ram Nath Kovind, who also cleared the appointments of Sanjiv Sharma as Vice Chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi Central University in Bihar and Rajneesh Kumar Shukla as Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Maharashtra, The Times of India reported.
Akhtar is the head of the Department of Training and Capacity Building in Education at the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration in New Delhi. She has been appointed Jamia vice chancellor for five years, said a statement from the Centre. Some reports said Akthar is also the first woman vice chancellor of any central university in Delhi.
“It is a progressive landmark in the history of educational leadership and a matter of pride for Jamia Millia Islamia,” the University said in a press release.
Akhtar said her dream is to establish a medical college at Jamia during her tenure. “My aim was not to break the glass ceiling but I was definitely against the glass ceiling,” she said, according to PTI. “Why is it even there, if you hold the same educational qualifications and experience?”
There is no role model for a woman to be an administrator, the academic said. “In general women believe that they won’t be chosen because there are so many men in the fray,” Akhtar said.
She said she will interact with the students of the university, besides the deans, heads of departments, the executive council and the Academic Council. She said there are some courses that are not needed and some where new courses are needed.
“Either we replace them or we modify them or we modernise them. Jamia needs new courses and I feel many areas have old-fashioned courses,” she added. She also stressed on the need to have more international students in the university.
She also said the university will get the best possible funds. “Whatever I can take for Jamia, I will take it. Every university is starving for funding. I will try and get funding from the government. If we approach the government rightly, funding will not be a problem. We also have to learn to earn. That is what the government wants. For long, the central universities are being spoon fed by the funding of the government,” she said.
According to the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration’s website, Akhtar is a gold medallist from Aligarh Muslim University and did her PhD in Education at Kurukshetra University. She was a Commonwealth Fellow at the University of Warwick and Nottingham and was trained at the International Institute of Educational Planning, UNESCO, Paris.
She was the founder-director of State Institute of Educational Management and Training in Uttar Pradesh and has led several international consultancy programmes supported by Danish International Development Agency and United Nations Population Fund, among others.
The vice chancellor post at Jamia Milia Islamia had been lying vacant since Talat Ahmad stepped down in August 2018. Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla is the university’s chancellor.
According to Mint, Akhtar was chosen from a list of three candidates recommended by a selection committee of the Human Resources Development Ministry to the president earlier this year. The other names were Furqan Qamar, Secretary General Association of Indian Universities and SM Ishtiaque, a professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.
Jamia Millia Islamia was founded in 1920 in Aligarh and became a Central University by an Act of Parliament in 1988.