Students struggle to fund education: Survey

Published on Jul 13, 2020 01:35 AM IST
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ByPriyanka Sahoo, Mumbai

A large number of students in colleges and universities are finding it difficult to fund their education owing to the lockdown imposed to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, found a survey conducted by a professor from the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B).

Almost 82% of the 38,108 students surveyed said they were anticipating difficulty in funding their education while 27% respondents said their chances of continuing education in the academic year 2020-21 were either low or very low.

BN Jagtap, a professor from the department of Physics, IIT-B, and Anand Mapuskar, an educationist who has earlier served in the department of higher and technical education of Maharashtra, conducted the survey of 38,108 students from colleges and universities across Maharashtra to understand their perception of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on higher education.

Of the respondents, 73% said they would have to support their families financially. “This is expressed by 75% of male students and 70% of female students. The urban-rural divide is evident in the responses,” said Mapuskar. A higher number of students from rural areas expressed the need to help their family financially. For instance, 79% students from rural areas said they had to support their families as compared to 71% from metro cities.

Taking students’ hardship in account, the University Grants Commission (UGC) — the apex body that regulates all higher education institutes — had issued a circular on May 27 asking all institutes to be sympathetic towards students while asking them to pay tuition fees. Soon after, the University of Mumbai (MU) had, in June, asked all colleges not to hike fees for the new academic year and to allow students to pay fees in instalments.

Vinod Patil, officiating registrar of MU, said the decision was taken in accordance to UGC guidelines keeping in mind that families of students may have lost income due to lockdown.

Of the total 38,108 respondents, 19,495 were female, 18,602 were male and four were transgender students. The survey was aimed at understanding the perception of students on four issues — economic hardship on students, online education, reopening of colleges and new academic year, and students’ perception of their degree courses.

The survey found that 91% students have smartphones, 32% have laptop/desktop and 6% students reported to have no device at all. The survey also found that a majority of the students interviewed were accessing their academic activities online.

In Maharashtra, 66% students were studying at least one online course during the lockdown. However, the urban-rural divide was prominent in this case as well. In metro cities, district headquarters and taluka headquarters almost 67%-70% were taking online classes as opposed to only 62% in rural areas.

However, very few feel that online classes are useful. Around only 33% felt that the online course was useful while 26% were of the opinion that online courses cannot replace face-to-face teaching. The surveyors, therefore, suggested a hybrid model involving a correct mix of online and face-to-face education so that educational institutes can function with social distancing norms.

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