The Higher Education Department (HED) has put a cap on the admission of students in Government Degree Colleges for pursuing various undergraduate courses.
The move, according to officials, is part of the rationalization process started by the government to streamline the admission of the students in colleges as per the availability of the staff and the infrastructural facilities. The decision has been taken on the basis of the feedback taken from the college Principals.
The government claims to have started rationalization of colleges for the benefit of students and institutions after the teachers outnumbered the students in some of the colleges.
However, putting a cap on the intake capacity of the colleges will cost dearly for the students as they feel deprived of pursuing higher education in the institutions of their choice.
Under the garb of rationalization the government has choked the space for the students, that too when it is beating the drums of New Education Policy (NEP)-2020 wherein the students are promised to have easy access to education.
For the past few weeks, the students have made hue and cry over the government decision to put a cap on the intake capacity of colleges. The students are seen protesting outside colleges which deny admission to these aggrieved students citing reason of limited intake in the colleges.
Apparently, it seems that the rationalization of Colleges has been done to make the newly established 52 colleges centre of attraction for the students as these colleges fail to attract the students for admission due to lack of basic facilities in these colleges.
The new degree colleges were made functional during the 2019 and 2020 academic year in Jammu and Kashmir division respectively, but majority of these colleges receive lukewarm response from the students for admissions.
The new colleges obviously cannot attract the students unless the government sets up state of Art infrastructure in these institutions. For the sake of making these colleges functional, the government started these colleges in make-shift arrangements from school buildings, Panchayat Ghars and rented rooms.
So a student will definitely prefer the old colleges over the new ones because of the availability of the infrastructure even if these institutions do not fall in their catchment areas.
But the rigidity of the government to limit the intake capacity in these colleges has found no takers as the students hitting streets against the government decision.
The government officials justify the move saying that putting a cap on intake capacity in college will ensure that quality education is imparted to the students. The government also believes that rationalization in colleges will ease the Burden on the old colleges as students will approach the newly established 52 Colleges for their admission.
The government is completely mistaken on this. Limiting access of students to old colleges will not attract the students towards new colleges. Even at present, students of several newly established colleges have been shifted to old colleges given the poor response of the students.
Also, the government has established new degree colleges in a haphazard manner across J&K without following any parameters requisite for setting up higher educational institutions. On top of it, instead of creating new positions and making fresh recruitment of new teaching and non-teaching staff, the government shifted the staff from old colleges to run the new colleges. The move has left the old colleges under staffed as well. So, the government should not make the new colleges dependent on the old ones or mar the functioning of old colleges to run the new colleges.
The government should instead make fresh recruitment for these institutions besides setting up permanent buildings as well. The functioning or survival of the new colleges should not depend on the functioning of the old colleges.
To make the new colleges abuzz, the government has limited the intake capacity of the old colleges to mere 300 to 400 which however would accommodate around 2000 to 3000 students during previous years.
Few years ago, the degree colleges, particularly in south Kashmir districts witnessed a downfall in the enrollment of students, throwing a major challenge for the government to revive the student population in colleges.
After the colleges witnessed an increase in the student population in the last two years, the government has now put limitations on students to pursue education in the institutions of their choice.
The move has laid a negative impact on students who perceive it denying access to higher education.
This year, around 80 percent of students were declared in the annual regular 2020 class 12th exams besides thousands of students earlier qualified the bi-annual exams as well. With this the footfall of students towards higher education has considerably increased.
The unprecedented increase in the number of students qualifying class 12th exams has created crises like situation as the student number has increased but the colleges have put a cap on admissions.
The newly established colleges are not able to manage the crises as students do not prefer these institutions at all. While the students have made hue and cry over denial in admission in colleges, the government has now directed the Principals of all these colleges to accept the admission forms of all the students for their admission to pursue undergraduate courses.
The officials also confessed that some of the College Principals have not been able to understand the issue properly as they failed to hold pre admission counseling of the students.
But putting a cap on admissions is not the solution to streamline the higher education system in J&K. The government should understand that denying admission to students in colleges will adversely impact the college revenue generation. Even new colleges will not be benefited with it. The fee collected from students is utilized on college development besides providing a share of it to the central pool fund of the HED as well.
Streamlining of education at school or higher education level is always a welcome step but the ideas and decisions should not go against the interest of students. And also, the old colleges should not bear the brunt of new degree colleges for getting poor response of students for their admissions. The government should not mar the old college at the cost of new colleges which are yet to take off. Let good sense prevail. Let students be at liberty to avail educational opportunities as per their choice.