Recent news reports say that colleges under Mumbai University may reserve seats for those who live nearby. This move comes after the elected representatives complained that students despite living near colleges, had to travel to far-off places because they could not, due to high competition, secure a seat in a college close to them. Mumbai local trains are known to be jam-packed and using them as a form of daily commute can take a toll on these students.
The conversation around granting domicile status or reservation on the basis of place of residence is not unheard of. In fact, demand of reserving seats for locals in Delhi University has been going on for a long time. Recently the Delhi Government proposed reserving 85% seats in Delhi University college’s funded by the state Government. However, since Delhi University is a central university the probability of a domicile reservation being granted is low.
Supporters of the idea of granting domicile status believe that often locals have to compromise on quality education or go to far-off college’s unless they meet the infamous, ridiculously high cut-offs. Their bone of contention is with the fact that despite living near these colleges, they have been given no added advantage and have to compete with students from across the rest of the country. When specifically talking about Delhi University, what adds to the problem is the fact that 28 out of 110 colleges get funding from the Delhi Government, and even then, it results in no added benefit to locals.
The first argument against granting domicile status is this: one of the reasons why Delhi University and Mumbai University are what they are is because of their diversity. These institutions are powerhouses where the best minds from all across the country get together to learn. Not only does that provide them some of the finest students from every graduating class but also enrich them by introducing these cities to cultures from across the country. Talking specifically about Delhi, in a country like ours, it is desirable than the capital that does justice to communities and cultures from all across India by having an adequate number of people representing them.
The second argument against granting domicile status is that not every other state has institutions that offer the environment, exposure and opportunities that Delhi University and Mumbai University do. There is a dire need of other premiere institutions of higher education in our country that deliver quality education.
To sum it up, both the arguments for and against granting domicile status seem reasonable. However, the problem is rooted deep and will not simply be solved by reserving seats. The root of the problem is within the fact there aren’t many alternatives to Delhi University or Mumbai University in our country. Most of the outstation students live hundreds of miles away from their families in order to get the best possible education. The economic and emotional baggage that comes along with staying in a place far from home is immense. The reason why people nevertheless choose to bear it is because there is no alternative closer college near their home. It’s a multi-faceted issue that requires a well thought out solution, which would, as a consequence, lead to the creation of institutions that could rival Delhi and Mumbai Universities. Increased funding by UGC, filling out vacant tenured positions, creation of a system of accountability where faculty is responsible to maintain a certain level of education and adequate resources provided in central universities across the country would be a good place to start with.
In March 2017, 105 crores out of the 300 crores granted to DU in 2012 lapsed. Not only that another 95 crores was spent on a last minute purchase of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flats which will now be given to house staff. These funds lapsed because concerned authorities could not find appropriate avenues to use them despite there being multiple colleges which were in dire need of them. This is a clear sign of negligence.
Without a certain degree of accountability, people become complacent in their jobs. In order to maintain and improve upon the quality of education provided in institutions across the country, a well-developed infrastructure, good faculty, resources, recreational centre’s and hostel facilities are required. A uniform parameter, which should be upheld by central universities across the country is necessary.
If there are universities just as prestigious as Delhi University and Mumbai University in every state, not only would it make the cut-off’s more realistic, but it would also make education more accessible. To get an excellent college experience without bearing the costs of living in a different city would give a lot of locals the opportunity to get an education, that they might not have received earlier despite doing well academically. An improvement in the standards of central universities across India would mean better quality education accessible to even more people. And a country whose education continues to become better, more affordable and more accessible with time, the country’s development is bound to grow in leaps.
Feature Image Credits: Campus Drift