The sharp fall in enrolments for Mumbai University’s (MU) postgraduate courses being offered at its Kalina campus has become a cause of concern for academics, who blame poor infrastructure and shortage of faculty.
With a sanctioned faculty strength of 369 teachers, of which only 200 posts are filled, teachers spend most of their time doing the work of two people. Posts, which fell vacant after teachers retired, are yet to be filled.
“For the past three years, we had only one faculty member in the German department. We got a lecturer last month but three posts are still vacant,” said Vibha Surana, head of the German department. “The university has now promised to advertise the vacant posts and once we have enough faculty, the department will get more vibrant.” The Persian department too, has not had a permanent faculty since the previous head of department retired two years ago. The department is run by two temporary faculty members. “Since there are a lack of feeder courses in the city for these courses, we need to advertise our programmes to students from other universities. But for that we need better hostel facilities,” added Surana.
According to Laxmi Mikaelyan, head of the Russian department, students are not aware of the opportunities a postgraduate degree offers. “Russian is the basic language used in 15 countries. Each of our students gets a job as a translator, interpreter or teacher the moment their results are out. The demand for courses is cyclic and no course, especially languages, can have consistent demand,” said Mikaelyan.
With dipping enrolments, the future of these departments, which provide education at a reasonable annual fee of Rs3,000, could be in jeopardy. Abhay Pethe, a professor in the varsity’s economics department, suggests a ‘school system’ in which departments are clubbed, for eg, under a school of social of language studies, which will allow language students to interact more closely with each other. “This model is followed in the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and is very successful. Learning also thrives on the thought and opinions of several people and not in classroom of two students. This will also cut overhead costs by combining departments,” said Pethe.
He also suggested an inter-faculty curriculum, which will allow students to take up interdisciplinary subjects, such as economics, history and French.