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Residential colleges in Mumbai in dilemma about reopening without hostel facilities

As attendance remained low on day two of reopening of campuses on Thursday, colleges are hoping for better numbers in the coming week. Institutes with residential facilities feel their students will only show up post Diwali holidays because at present, colleges are not allowed to make hostel facility available for students.
A healthcare worker inoculates students at Dnyanasadhana College. (HT PHOTO)
Published on Oct 21, 2021 08:55 PM IST
ByShreya Bhandary, Mumbai

As attendance remained low on day two of reopening of campuses on Thursday, colleges are hoping for better numbers in the coming week. Institutes with residential facilities feel their students will only show up post Diwali holidays because at present, colleges are not allowed to make hostel facility available for students.

“The government has suggested re-opening of campuses in a phased manner, so we are inviting outstation students only post Diwali break. Right now, we can’t open hostels for them at such short notice, it’ll be impossible for students to find alternative accommodation as well,” said TA Shiware, speaking for Wilson College and chairman of Mumbai Association of Non-Government Colleges.

In the second week of October, minister for state higher and technical education Uday Samant announced reopening of colleges in a phased manner only for fully vaccinated students. In a statement made on October 13, Samant suggested that colleges should implement the physical reopening of campuses in a phased manner and should continue online classes for students who are not yet fully vaccinated.

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“City colleges are reopening as per government orders, but we will also have to reopen hostels. We have set up a committee to look into the possibility of reopening and suggest protocols. This committee will look into this and submit its recommendation based on all government regulations and protocols at the earliest,” said PK Shajahan, dean of academics, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

Some city colleges, too, are chalking out a plan to ensure outstation students are not left without accommodation. “Without the government’s go-ahead, we cannot open hostels to students. For the time being, we are chalking out a plan to ensure that only final-year students are brought back to the campuses first, followed by first- and second-year students,” said the principal of a prominent city college, on condition of anonymity.

He added the state government’s decision to reopen colleges at such short notice, despite promising to do so only post Diwali holidays, has upset college staff as well as students. “We will, however, have to follow government guidelines and bring back students in small batches,” he added.

Most colleges wore a deserted look on day one of reopening. While undergraduate students are busy with exams, postgraduate students could not attend lectures either because they are not fully vaccinated or because they are currently attending lectures from different cities and states in the country.

“Unless the government gives us permission, hostels cannot reopen at present. And without the back-up of hostels, students won’t attend colleges physically,” said Rajendra Shinde, principal of St Xavier’s College.

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