Delhi University colleges are among the most popular places of learning in the country. The university received approximately 92,000 application forms for admissions to more than 40,000 seats last year. But the state of infrastructure in colleges belies its popularity and the funds its receives. Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental spoke to HT about the challenges related to infrastructure the colleges are facing.
The maintenance of infrastructure in the colleges is whose job?
The college principals are primarily responsible for maintenance of their basic amenities and infrastructure. The University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development gives us resources and we pass them on to the colleges.
Does the university’s responsibility
end with allocation of resources?
Not at all. We work with the colleges to get clearance from the government for projects and funds needed to upgrade their infrastructure.
The existing infrastructure in the colleges is in a deplorable condition. Students are not offered even basic amenities such as access to safe drinking water and clean washrooms. The auditoriums are crumbling. Why doesn't the university concentrate on improving them before building new ones?
The negligence of the college authorities is to blame (for the problems). They must utilise the funds given to them to spruce up the existing infrastructure and build new ones. As far as the question of building new infrastructure goes, why should that stop? The university has recently invested on computerisation in various colleges to help students download reading material.
How much money have the colleges been allocated?
Each college affiliated to the university has been given Rs 2 crore to refurbish the existing infrastructure.
Also, each college has been allocated between Rs 4 crore and Rs 10 crore in installments for building new infrastructure such as classrooms and auditoriums.
Only 13 colleges that are under Delhi administration did not get the grant for building new infrastructure. It is the responsibility of the Delhi government to do so.
You said colleges have been allocated Rs 4 to Rs 10 crore for infrastructure expansion. How do you determine which college gets how much grant?
The allocation of funds depends on the student strength of the college and the courses they offer.
How do you ensure the funds provided are being properly used by the colleges?
We do have inspection teams, but it is largely the responsibility of the colleges themselves to ensure the funds have been used in the best possible manner.
Can the university penalise a college if the funds are not utilised to alleviate the infrastructural problems of the college? Who is accountable?
Maybe we should have such a system in place to make colleges more accountable. The problem is, we need to be more responsible as a society. We need to take care of the common spaces and improve our awareness.
A sense of alienation exists among the students of some colleges who are fighting infrastructural difficulties. They often feel as 'second class citizens' compared with colleges that have good infrastructure. What do you have to say?
The government should give them more money so they can improve their infrastructure. But there is no need to feel alienated. The placement cell of the university has students from all colleges and they are getting good offers. These colleges are as good as any other college and their faculty is good.