Proposal sans practical approach?

Vice-Chancellor N Prabhu Dev has been so offended with the move that he doesn't want to talk about it. So much so that he deliberately delayed replying to Minister for Higher Education V S Acharya when the latter sought clarifications from him recently.

While he flatly refused to comment on the matter when Deccan Herald contacted him, his stance is not unknown. According to a highly placed BU source, his recent five-page letter to Acharya was 'well-calculated'.

Dilution of standards

In the letter, Dev opposed the bifurcation as it would “seriously dilute academic standards and risk the careers of students”. In his view, the BU is not “as big as it is being projected” and the ground for bifurcating the varsity is ‘shaky’. In effect, he asserts, 168 affiliated colleges function only on paper whereas 123 others have not admitted even a single student in the current academic year. If these colleges are disaffiliated or derecognised, the so-called burden on the BU will naturally ease. Further, he reiterated that BU might not get the 'A' grade awarded by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, if bifurcated.

In the words of a senior BU professor, Dev is so firm in his stand that he would never let bifurcation of BU happen during his tenure. "The VC's proximity to the chief minister is well known. In all likelihood, he will convince B S Yeddyurappa not to divide the varsity," he said. The professor, who wished to be anonymous, said the BU can be divided into ten universities, "but only in theory".

"Division is good but where is the required infrastructure? See the fate of Gulbarga and Tumkur universities which are yet to get proper facilities. The move is more political than academic. There is no harm in creating more universities, but destroying BU is dangerous," he added.  According to the professor, BU is working with only 40 percent staff and lacks a number of other facilities. Hence, instead of splitting BU, it is wise to create a completely new university with the necessary infrastructure.

Former VCs, however, disagree with Dev, but slam splitting of campuses. "It is simply unthinkable to picture Jnanabharathi without the Central College. Equally illogical is the proposal to develop the College as a unitary type of world-class institute," N R Shetty, who was at the helm of the varsity from 1993 to 1999, said.

Infrastructure bottlenecks

In Shetty's views, such an institute would need at least 200 acres of land. "Where is the required land? Even if the surrounding government colleges are taken into the Central College fold, they will have to be closed. This is not a sensible decision. It is best to separate a few affiliated colleges and develop an entirely different varsity," he felt.

K Siddappa, who was VC from 1999 to 2002, concurs. Rejecting Dev's claims that nearly 300 colleges don't function, Siddappa says BU has a burden of about 500 colleges. "Large number of colleges is not the only reason. The post graduate centre at Kolar should be upgraded into a university.
The number of colleges in Kolar, Chikkaballapur, and Ramanagar districts may be small, but these regions need a varsity for their socio-economic development," Siddappa said.  Agreeing, M S Thimmappa, another former VC, says the state government should establish a totally independent university.

Chikkamelurappa, Head, Department of Sociology in BU who was alleged to be spearheading the campaign for bifurcation so that he could be the VC, termed the charges a ‘conspiracy.’  "BU never had an SC/ST or Muslim VC. Why shouldn't it be bifurcated? A UGC norm says there should be a university for every 200 colleges," he said.

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