Rationalization of Academic Infrastructure
There is an urgent need to set a roadmap for the judicious use of infrastructure in higher education
HIGHER EDUCATION BY TARIQ AHMAD
Before critically analyzing the recent news report published in Greater Kashmir about the State Finance Commission noting with concern the poor scenario of the higher education system in the Kashmir Valley, I would like to share a famous anecdote; how one of elite US University, Yale came into origin. The story goes like this. Once nine priests were deliberating how they can help their community; all of them decided to donate their best things, and all of them donated a book each. From there onwards the world famous Yale University started off its journey. What a humble start.
Although the report focused on the valley, the scenario at state level is the same. As on today our state boasts of nine fully fledged universities, five in Jammu and four in valley. Besides, there are two Deemed Universities. Around 2005, Jammu University and Kashmir University started a not so healthy process of setting up satellites campus in various regions of the State. The proponents of this scheme justified it on the premise that satellite campuses were started with the aim of making higher education accessible to major populace living in far flung and inaccessible areas of the state. The counter argument was that the infrastructure as well as academics is very poor in these off campuses, moreover mostly blue eyed candidates were adjusted in various coveted position in these off-campuses.
In its report submitted to the government the Commission said the creation of Post-Graduate Centers of Kashmir University in South and North of the Valley have not proven effective. There is one conventional university in Kashmir with its entire region as catchments and the difference between applications received for admissions in various courses and the existing intake capacity is “extraordinarily large”, ...hence frustration among the youth.
This report has raised various questions. One how to make the judicious use of existing academic infrastructure, with the aim to make higher education accessible to large populace living in far flung areas with special focus on increasing share of women in higher education.
Although Commission in its report had come up with some valid and practical suggestions like bringing KU South Campus with all accoutrements and affiliated colleges under the purview of the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST) at Pulwama with South Kashmir (Islamabad, Pulwama, Kulgam and Shopian) as its catchment areas; also the upgrading of KU North Campus to full-fledged university, I submit some more suggestions for the rationalizations of academic infrastructure.
In the valley many institutes offer professional courses like MBBS, Engineering (both diploma and degree programmes), B. Pharma etc., and it is comic that an academic university oversees these courses at various levels like examinations. To do away with this situation SKIIMS could be upgraded as full fledged medical university bringing GMC, SKIIMS Bemina and all other institutes offering host of Para-Medical courses in the valley under one umbrella. This experiment has worked well in other parts of India and worth emulating. In the similar fashion, some other university in the valley could be declared as full fledged engineering university bringing all institutes offering degree or diploma courses in valley under one roof.
Primarily, valley has three regions - South, North and Central. IUST, Avantipora is emerging as centre for higher education in the South. For Central, Kashmir KU is already established. The suggestion that North Campus of KU be upgraded to full fledged university with districts like Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora as catchments areas which can also provide higher education to students from AJK, needs to be given practical shape. Regarding enhancing the infrastructure for women, women colleges need to be set up in each district (both old and newly formed ones) and major towns to ease pressure on existing women colleges. For building minimum two women colleges around Srinagar city, Pampore and Shaltaing could be two ideal places for setting up new women college with basket of market driven courses for women.
Citing an example the commission report mentions that in Andhra Pradesh there were seven Universities in mid seventies but today each district has a University which has helped in promoting talent among the youth. We too need more centers of higher education but premium has to been on quality always.
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 10 Sep 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 11 Sep 2011 00:00:00 IST
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