17 May 2022 13:51:59 IST

NALSAR provided academic flexibility even before NEP: Faizan Mustafa

Prof Faizan Mustafa,  Vice-Chancellor, NALSAR University of Law

The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University of Law, Hyderabad, is among the top universities in the country offering legal and management education. The university has been at the forefront of introducing many first-of-its-kind courses such as animal law, aviation law, telecommunication law, and maritime laws, and has bagged top ratings by NAAC.

Prof Faizan Mustafa, an eminent scholar of constitutional law, writer, and Fulbright Scholar, has completed two terms as the Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law. BLonCampus spoke to him on the journey of NALSAR over the last decade with an innovative approach. Some excerpts: 

What are the most significant reforms which have been introduced in the last 10 years?
When I took over, the first thing I did was to introduce a liberty model of administration. Universities should be free spaces for the creation of knowledge and research. Only then will new ideas sprout. 
Then, the burden of compulsory courses was removed as 47 out of 50 courses were compulsory with no choice for students. So, a choice-based credit system was introduced with a large number of elective courses. Now, students can bid for a course in NALSAR which is a first-of-its-kind system in any place of higher learning. 
The compulsory attendance has been brought down from earlier 95 per cent to 75 per cent to allow some space for the students outside the classroom. We do not believe that learning takes place only in classrooms. While maintaining the mandatory coursework norms, the number of research projects to be done per year has been reduced to 10 from 50.
I introduced academic flexibility a decade ago which is now central to the New Education Policy (NEP). 
All these measures, as some described, resulted in an academic revolution in NALSAR Hyderabad, making it a preferred destination for students and campus recruiters.
The administration of your university is known to be inclusive and transparent. How is this being ensured? 
We believe in transparency, accountability, and the involvement of all stakeholders. In any university, the main stakeholders are students. Here, the students are involved in administration in a big way as they are members of all committees related to tenders/purchases, drafting regulations on a wide range of aspects including sexual harassment.
This has weeded out any possibility of corruption and we have a clean image now with complete transparency. Students take ownership of rules drafted by them.
How do you situate NALSAR Hyderabad among others in the country? What makes this distinctive and popular?
Ours is both a law school as well a university with the highest NAAC rating of 3.6 on a scale of 4. We did what NEP says now — no single subject universities after 2030. We have an MBA and a five-year integrated programme in management.
Our focus, unlike others, is to behave like a public university and make a difference by teaching socially relevant courses. For instance, a course on the law on poverty is mandatory for our students.
We have many firsts in courses such as masters in animal laws, telecommunication, aviation, and maritime law in distance mode. This is also a part of NEP now but initiated by us even prior to it. Our endeavor is to provide justice education and not just legal education.
What according to you should be the road map for NALSAR for next five years?
NALSAR is now in the most comfortable situation in reputation, quality of education, and placements. Our students are getting placed in the fourth year itself. We should now aim to become an international center of excellence for legal education and research in the world.
There is a need to introduce more online courses. NALSAR should provide hand-holding to other legal education institutes in the state to scale up. There is scope to improve the representation in judicial services in Telangana. Here, Nalsar can play a key role in training people for the judicial services. 
How comfortable are you in funding? Are there any challenges?
There were issues at the beginning of my tenure. But now, all is well. Since its creation in 2014, the Telangana government is quite helpful, liberal, and has been extending the required support.