Founded in 1959, Tribhuvan University (TU) is Nepal’s largest and oldest center of higher learning. Despite ample land space and resources, the university has turned into a docile and rudderless place that inspires virtually no one. Institutions of higher learning should play a central role in the decision-making in country’s highest bodies. Research and ideas generated from places like TU should be guiding point for those in the position of power. However, in the last few years TU has become a ground for political game and many of the professors lack the intellectual depth to carry on research and teach students there. Intellectuals and scholars have been raising voice for reforms to turn TU into a vibrant academic institution. Thus the new government must work immediately to re-imagine TU and make the place a center of academic excellence in the real sense.
TU’s once renowned research centers like Center for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) and the Center for Nepal and Asian Studies (CENAS) produced academics of very high standard. Scholars like Dor Bahadur Bista once headed CENAS. But these research institutes are gathering dust and few make-shift workers are employed there by the university. When the country’s once renowned institutes stop producing ideas and stop debating on issues, where do we get policy ideas best suited to our context? Too often, our policy ideas are driven and even dictated by donors. We can debate about the effectiveness of such a practice, but this hasn’t helped us move very far in our pursuit of overall development. Many professors at TU have been accused of plagiarism. Even Vice Chancellor, Tirtha Khaniya, has been accused of plagiarism. Students pursuing master’s degree and those getting their PhDs are found to be involved in plagiarism just to get their degree. This has not only ruined the reputation of the university, but also shows the depth of intellectual decay within the institution.
The university is in a dire need of a massive overhaul. A simple surgery is not going to help revive the university. Even the physical space of a university should be able to inspire minds. The campus in Kirtipur needs a face lift, curriculum needs massive revision and those who teach there need a certain level of academic prominence. Political meddling has to stop immediately. The institution has suffered enough. It is now time for the country to seriously work to re-imagine the university so that it becomes the center for moral and intellectual light of our country.