The University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a letter advising Central Universities to ‘rationalise’ their courses by the existing demands and needs of students. This decision has come to be condemned by the Democratic Teachers’ Front for several reasons. Read to find out more.
Following the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) recent decision regarding the adoption of the Global Citizenship Curriculum in all higher education institutions, the UGC, in its letter dated 30th November 2021, has now advised Central universities to ‘rationalise’ their courses and teach courses based on the students’ “demands” and “numbers”.
…. there are some Departments which were started by Central Universities without any assessment of the number of students interested in such courses. …. it is requested you may conduct the courses based on the demand of the students and the number of students attending a particular course and do a rationalisation of all departments within the sanctioned no. of students and teaching staff aligned with the no. (of) students enrolled in such courses…,said the letter from V. Talreja, the undersecretary, UGC.
This decision has risen from the perspective of catering to the market economy and evaluating education through financial benchmarks. This can also be corroborated by the recent trend wherein many public-funded universities have begun closing off their traditional courses, the majority of them belonging to arts or social sciences. One example of such an incident has been the closing of the Urdu department in five Delhi University affiliated colleges or the closing of Bengali and Tamil departments in many colleges.
Keeping the accompanying ill-effects in mind, many academicians and teachers, including the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF), have raised opposition and criticized this communication by the UGC.
Going by this directive, courses in humanities and the social sciences will gradually be closed down at public universities. Only professional courses will be taught against high fees,added Chandra Mohan Negi, academic council member, DU.
In a country where public-funded universities present the sole opportunity for quality higher education for many students, particularly those belonging to the deprived segments, the closure of programmes will end up affecting these segments the most. This would also go against the recently formulated NEP which calls for promoting inter-disciplinary education.
Apart from the shutting down of many departments, this directive would also lead to the loss of jobs for many teachers and scholars and would affect the growth of research in these subjects. Moreover, such courses would become restricted to school levels and there, too, in a weakened form.
One of the major concerns of the Democratic Teachers’ Front is the burden that would immediately fall on ad-hoc teachers as these courses might be offered through SWAYAM, a portal offering advanced education web courses, or even be permanently closed under this step towards ‘rationalisation’. They argue that in an institution like Delhi University, where 4500 teachers have been working on an ad-hoc basis for the past several years, it comes to be of utmost importance that absorption as per the correct roster must be immediately implemented.
Feature Image Credits: DU Beat Archives