Queen Mary’s College and Presidency College will become universities.

Two grand old institutions of higher education in the State will soon be accorded a honour that has been more than a century in the making. Queen Mary’s College and Presidency College will become universities.

They will be the first among many colleges in Tamil Nadu that will be elevated as universities.

Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy said on Thursday that it was estimated that the country would need around 1,500 universities to meet the challenge of improving the quality of higher education. More colleges would be made into universities soon.

He was addressing a function to lay the foundation stone for the Dr. Kalaignar Block at Queen Mary’s College. Both colleges will also receive substantial grants from the State Government for augmenting infrastructure and setting up additional facilities.

“The Queen Mary’s College alone will need 87 new classrooms, which will be constructed at a cost of Rs.2.5 crore. An additional Rs.50 lakh will be allotted for the repair of old buildings on the campus,” Local Administration Minister M.K. Stalin, who laid the foundation, said.

The elevation is in continuance of the grant of autonomy to both institutions. For Queen Mary’s College, especially, the promise of better infrastructure comes as a welcome relief as the nearly 90-year-old institution is housed in buildings badly in need of repair.

More importantly, the new classrooms will come up at the site where the Capper House once stood.

Heritage building

It was the heritage status of this building, which was built in 1800 and housed the first women’s college of the then Madras Presidency, that became the bone of contention when the AIADMK Government decided to demolish the QMC buildings to make way for a new Secretariat in 2003.

The Dr. Kalaignar Block will be in sync with the heritage architecture of other buildings on the campus, according to officials of the Higher Education Department. To be completed in a year, it will be a two-storey structure with a library, administrative offices, a conference hall and classrooms.

Women empowerment

The State Government is committed to the empowerment of women, Mr. Stalin said. The number of women representatives in local bodies had exceeded the 33 per cent mandated by the State government. Out of the 13,751 panchayat leaders, for example, 5,427 were women (nearly 40 per cent).

Higher Education Secretary K. Ganesan, Director of Collegiate Education Nalini Ravindran and college principal Eugene Pinto were present. Source: Hindu