When will KU's Kupwara campus become functional?

In 2008, the Kashmir University (KU) announced to set up a satellite campus in Kupwara district to make higher education easily accessible to students of the border district in north Kashmir. But a decade on, the campus is yet to see the light of the day. An official said that more than 500 kanals of land were acquired for construction of the campus. But, according to the official, the construction on the satellite campus is going on for the past eight years. Once completed the campus will be second such facility in north Kashmir after the varsity administration made Delina satellite campus operational in 2009. Last year, the administration had claimed that the physical examination of the campus infrastructure and other facilities will be carried out by a team of officials and a report will be submitted to the higher authorities to make it operational. However a year has passed but the administration is yet to make any progress towards making the campus operational. The university council has already approved two programs for the campus which include Physics and Energy Studies. “Earlier it was decided to introduce specialised program of nanotechnology but the decision was later shelved owing to inadequate infrastructure and facilities for such a specialised program,” the KU official said. Besides taking the higher education to the doorsteps in this district, making Kupwara campus operational would have opened up job opportunities for educated unemployed youth. There are around five degree colleges in Kupwara district with each college having enrolment of over 1000 to 1500 students. “All these students don’t get accommodated in the available intake capacity at main campus of KU at Hazratbal and other satellite campuses. Due to this reason most of the students are forced to move outside J&K state to pursue higher education,” said Sameer Ahmad, an under graduate student from Handwara. An official said the construction on the campus hit a roadblock owing to “some issues” between the executing agency and the varsity administration.

As of now, KU has four satellite campuses at Delina in Baramulla, Anantnag, Leh and Kargil which are functional from past many years. However, the KU administration has failed to make these campuses vibrant over the years owing to its failure in improving the infrastructure facilities and introducing new courses. Take the example of Delina campus. Neither has the varsity introduced any new courses at the campus nor has it increased the intake capacity there. “Over the years, the university administration has only increased the fee structure for the students. But it has failed to offer admission in new courses to the students,” a KU official said. Another official said that the internal politics in the varsity was taking toll on the functioning of these campuses. “People with vested interests always try to sabotage any major plans which are devised for betterment of the campus and the students,” the official said. The fate of the Kargil campus is also hanging in balance after the state government took a controversial decision of handing over Kargil campus to the higher education department to run cluster university of Leh. People in Kargil have expressed apprehensions that the move will become a reason to close down the varsity’s satellite campus in the district. On the other hand, the Leh campus of KU has failed to attract the students for admission in different PG courses. The KU has posted around 10 teaching faculty members at the campus besides non-teaching staff but the students’ enrolment has not seen substantial increase over the years. The official said the Leh campus has also become victim of internal politics in the varsity which resulted in the downfall of the enrolment at the campus. “Yes, the enrolment was very less in the campus for the past years but this year it has increased to more than 70. We are expecting further improvement in it during the next admission session,” director admissions in KU, Prof Irshad Nawchoo said. Registrar Kashmir University, Nisar Ahamd Mir said the construction work was “almost complete” on Kupwara campus and the administration has decided to start the admission from next academic session (November 2019).

“We have decided to start three integrated courses for the students in the campus. There are some issues with forest department regarding the approach road for the campus. But all such issues will be resolved very soon,” Mir said. About the Delina and Anantnag campus, he said the varsity has decided to establish one centre of excellence each at both these campuses and build new infrastructure as well. “There were some financial issues owing to which no developments were witnessed in these campuses but now the financial issues are expected to be resolved soon,” he said.