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Why UGC advice to central varsities on demand-based courses is being critiqued | Latest News India

New DelhiThe University Grants Committee (UGC) recently wrote to all central universities advising them to offer courses based on the “demand” of students, and the number of those accepted into those courses. The calls drew criticism from teachers at several central universities who claimed it would gradually lead to the closure of some courses and create job losses.

In its letter dated December 28, 2021, the UGC said that the Ministry of Education had written to the authority on November 30, 2021, stating that it had noted that some central universities had started several departments “without any assessment of the number of students interested in such courses.”

“Therefore, you are required to conduct the courses based on the demand of students and the number of students attending a particular course and to rationalize all departments within the approved number of students and faculty aligned with the number of students enrolled in such courses,” UGC said in the letter addressed to the registrars of all central universities. 45.

The latest communication was sent by UGC in the Ministry of Education’s ongoing memorandum dated May 26, 2020, which states that the Ministry has set standards for the number of departments that can open at new universities in their first five years considering “the number of students expected to join a particular course in department, prospects/requirements for the future course, new emerging areas, etc.”

the opposition

Teachers from several central universities have expressed concerns about the “rationalization” of departments as advised by the UGC and said that it will gradually lead to the closure of many departments, especially those offering language and social science courses. Teachers’ groups also claimed that this would also lead to the loss of teaching fraternity jobs.

The Democratic Teachers Front (DTF), a group of active teachers at the University of Delhi, said, “This UGC advice will not only shut down small languages ​​and some social science departments across universities and colleges and lose jobs for teachers and scholars but also curtail the growth of research in these areas. It will weaken These materials are at the school level as well.”

The teachers group said that the burden of this “justification” by offering such courses online or closing such courses would immediately fall on dedicated teachers. “Any move like this is not acceptable especially at DU, where 4,500 teachers have been working on an ad hoc basis for the past several years,” they said.

Rajesh Jha, Professor of Political Science at DU’s Rajdhani College and a former member of the university’s executive board, explained that many colleges at DU have already closed language courses/departments of language courses.

For example, Du University’s Lady Shri Ram College, Miranda House, Hindu College, Khalsa College and PR Ambedkar College have closed their Urdu departments in recent years due to “lack of enrollment”. Similarly, some colleges have closed down their Tamil, Bengali and Sindhi departments citing similar reasons over the years.

“The UGC letter will only exacerbate the situation and lead to the closure of more of these departments at the university. Academic activities cannot operate on the basis of the popularity of courses or enrollment numbers. The UGC letter makes financial considerations more important than academic considerations,” Jha said.

“We are not saying that universities should not promote popular courses, but that the Ministry and UGC should not limit the academic freedom of universities. These are academic decisions, so let universities decide which courses they wish to take. The availability of different departments and courses enriches the academic intellectual level of any university Besides, it will reduce the workload of teachers and eventually lead to job losses.”

Virender Singh Negi, a professor at DU’s Shahid Bhagat Singh College and a member of the University’s Right-leaning Teachers Group NDTF, said the UGC’s rhetoric was against the spirit of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. “NEP 2020 promotes an interdisciplinary approach and expansion of departments and courses,” he said. Directing courses on demand among students would derail this approach.

Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Union (JNUTA) General Secretary Moshumi Basu said: “The aspiration for education for all can never be based on demand. This policy is based on a skewed utilitarian understanding of education. Besides, who will decide what the demand is? It will become an excuse to close departments and will primarily affect social sciences and humanities courses.”

Rationale

UGC officials dismissed the allegations, calling the opposition “irrational”. “Current standards clearly state that central universities should start new courses or departments after proper assessment of their demand among students. There have been cases where universities have started new courses and departments but there have been little or no enrollment. Such courses and departments cannot be encouraged because UGC provides funds for universities to operate them. After noting all this, the ministry wrote to the UGC after which a letter of December 28, 2021 was issued to all central universities,” said a senior UGC official, who asked not to be named.

DU registrar Vikas Gupta said the government advisory will not affect the nature of universities. “How will universities attract students without offering popular and sought-after courses? Universities must also be in line with current market demands and 21st century ideas.”

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