Varsity troubles

By NT Bureau Published on Oct 11, 2017 02:49 PM IST

Universities are passing through a difficult fiscal situation as the government grants are inadequate to meet the growing expenditure. As these universities largely cater to the rural and the urban middle class, they cannot charge exorbitant fees from students. Besides, any fee revision would create political furore as these universities are in public stream. The corporate sector is not forthcoming to fund the varsities through liberal grants or philanthropic support, as in the case of some of the western universities.

Given the state of research in most of the departments, the source of private funding for their activities is minimal in these universities. Thus, the varsity system is groping in the dark as far as meeting the fiscal requirements is concerned. Universities are expected to be the commanding heights of intelligentsia.

Universities stand for adventure of ideas and centres of innovative thoughts. But, over a period of time, there has been a systematic erosion of academic standards. Quality of teaching, learning and evaluation has drastically fallen. This diminished the credibility of the system in the eyes of the private sector.

Thus, the industry-varsity linkage has been a mere slogan with such a partnership confined to a few instances alone. The recruitment process is tampered with. The autonomy of the universities is attacked, making them mere appendage of the government. Political interference in the selection of Vice-Chancellors and management boards stifled the public scrutiny of the system.

The academic accountability, the research rigour and the community linkage have suffered over a period due to lack of accountability. There has been a proliferation of universities and colleges. But, proliferation of institutions does not mean creation of standards. New institutions of higher learning are opened without adequate preparation.

Most of the universities suffer from serious infrastructural deficit. The competitive academic environment, the vital element for enhancement of standards, is often missing in the system. There is no recognition for achievement and no disincentive for non-performance. Academic normalcy has been adversely affected by the emergence of parochial pressure groups that often work at cross purposes to hold the institutional excellence to ransom.

The bureaucratisation of the university administration is also proving to be detrimental to academic pursuits of higher excellence. The archaic policy framework in higher education further foments the trouble within the system. The declining standards in the feeder colleges in turn have a debilitating impact on the university standards.

The urge for excellence needs to be restored. The universities should encourage autonomous minds and innovative thinking. The university structures should be radically revisited to make them congenial for higher learning and serious academic endeavour.