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Varsity reforms: Where are stakeholders?

india Updated: Sep 19, 2006 15:33 IST

THE REPORT on administrative restructuring of Madhya  Pradesh universities for their efficient functioning quotes Radhakrishnan  Commission on Education in the Preamble: “University stands for freedom of  expression, liberty of thought, values, learning space.

It creates and builds thinkers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, leaders, sports persons, engineers,  technicians etc., who build and nurture societies. It is place where young minds collide to create, where dreams and aspirations take shape, where traditions are set and broken.”

This notion of a university has three stakeholders—teachers,  students and the parents, but most important of them all are the students. Even though the report makes passing references to students, teachers, parents, and  institutions associated with them like libraries, examinations, sports and extra  academic activities, it does not talk of youth management, the first requirement  of a university.

These stakeholders, in whose interest and on whose behalf the Universities Coordination Committee (UCC) takes vital academic and administrative decisions, are not even represented on the UCC, despite frantic appeals from the parent organisations.

The state and the Central governments have shelved their youth policies, but universities can ill-afford such neglect when the disillusioned, frustrated youth is roaming on the campus most menacingly. Unless the youthful energy is harnessed, is put under the social yoke through compulsory recruitment in the NCC/NSS, and is confronted with social and national issues on institutionalised forums, the universities would be failing in their prime duty, and all their administrative reforms would be of no consequence, for the stakeholders will not be benefited.

 The other stakeholder in the university is the teacher, who is always made to play a second fiddle when he is pitted against the administrators—vice-chancellors, registrars etc.

The first mistake was committed by the UGC, when it equated the university teaching staff with registrars, deputy registrars and assistant registrars. I have seen many a time, heads of University Teaching Departments sitting before these “administrators” slighted and ignored even when they were on official business. Shouldn’t the vice-chancellors ensure that the teachers approach them, and them only when it comes to official business, sparing them the usual indignities. Besides, what appreciation may these non-academicians have for matters academic.

The proposed administrative duties to be assigned to the teachers are unwarranted for if a teacher is weaned away from his desk, who would do his job?

Let the universities recruit an additional administrative hand if required rather than drive the teachers out of their classes. When a teacher is called upon to share an administrative responsibility, it means he is redundant.

As it is, there is an acute shortage of teachers in the UTDs: shamefully in many case we have single man departments running the show! If universities are places of higher learning and research, why not give the required number of teachers to each department and extend generous support with accountable autonomy? A senior professor complained to me (let Prof. R.S.Sirohi, the V-C confirm or deny it) that the Barkatullah University does not subscribe a single foreign research journal!

When it comes to the libraries, my impression is that they are godown of books rather inspiring places: Barkatullah University Library is a dark, dreary, dingy and a depressing place, whose staff deserves bad climate allowance and the visitors an insurance cover.

My only query to the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellors is: Who allowed the universities to degenerate into such shabby places if not the V-Cs and their administrative staff? I think the Chancellor has rightly chosen to reform the university administration first, because it deserves the first dressing down. 

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