Too many modifications are damaging the higher education system, students and teachers allege.
Frequent changes in rules and regulations related to appointments, promotions, admission and research work by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have led to uncertainty and fear in universities across the country and are damaging the higher education system, students and teachers have alleged.
Recently, the Delhi University (DU) had to cancel the interviews for MPhil/PhD admissions in all its departments. This was due to new UGC norms making it mandatory to score 50% marks in the written examination to qualify for MPhil/PhD admissions. The number of students who managed to score 50% marks this year has been abysmally low, and, according to students and teachers, the implementation of UGC’s new admission rules for MPhil/PhD will leave almost all the research faculties vacant.
The situation for SC/ST and OBC students seeking admissions to MPhil/PhD would be more pathetic, they said. Students and teachers at DU have said that taking sudden decisions has become routine for the UGC, MHRD and the admission committee of DU.
Rajib Ray, president of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), told The Sunday Guardian: “The ongoing experiment and changes in rules and regulations related to admissions, appointments and promotions have created havoc in Indian universities. Every day, the UGC and MHRD are coming up with one or other policies—sometimes semester system, four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP), 100 points roster, sometimes 70% marks for qualifying as teaching staff, sometimes 50% marks in written examination for qualifying for admissions in PG courses. Such changes, without holding even proper consultation and deliberations with all the stakeholders, are killing the higher education system in the country.”
“Now, the MHRD has proposed creation of the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) to replace the UGC. What happened to the Higher Education Financing Agency which was proposed earlier?” Ray asked.
Speaking on the issue, A.K. Bhagi, former president of the National Democratic Teachers’ Front, a teachers’ wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at DU and an Executive Council Member, said: “Change is inevitable; it corrects many things done wrongly in the past. In recent years, many changes have been introduced to the admission system in DU and these have improved the admission process a lot.”
“The admission system in practice in our university was not good. The new system has introduced technology—the online application process and online fee submission platforms have improved the whole admission process. The need is to have a proper debate before coming up with any policies or rules,” Bhagi added.
“Earlier, the admission committee of DU used to debate before coming up with any new policy. Now, in the past few years, the committee has been reduced to just an announcement platform. In case of M.Phil/ PhD admissions, the rules have been made by the UGC and the university is bound to implement. The decision of implementing the new admission rules should have come a little early so that students had not faced any problems. The sudden change has led to uncertainty among students,” Bhagi said.
Badshah Alam, professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, told The Sunday Guardian: “The appointment process in the universities is stalled, and the admission process is being tampered with. The reality is that the incumbent Central government is rushing to benefit private universities. When students don’t get admissions in government-run institutions, they will go for private universities and that’s what this government wants. The uncertainty and chaos is part of an intentional design for killing the government-run higher education system in the country.”
Speaking on the promise of anonymity, another teacher from Jawaharlal Nehru University said: “We are witnessing the worst ever crisis in the education system. There is no clarity on any policy, be it admissions, research, or appointments. Universities are in an acute need of teaching staff, adhocism is rampant and no solution is coming from the government.”