B'lore University in a shambles

Ego clashes, corruption and lack of stringent affiliation norms have taken the sheen off BU. Allowing barred colleges to hold exams is the latest in t

B'lore University in a shambles

Gone are those glorious years when the Jnanabharathi campus was a knowledge hub. When it honed the brightest minds, was a centre for vibrant academic debates, and when it was deemed a privilege for colleges to be affiliated to it. Bangalore University now is a poor shadow of what it was a few decades ago, said former students and academicians.

The university once identified among the top ten varsities in the country has now slipped several notches, not even figuring among the first 20. From squabbles among officials at the helm to examination irregularities and colleges without adequate infrastructure, the university has been under the media scanner for all the wrong reasons.

Problems are not just within the campus, but also with its affiliated colleges. There are more than 650 colleges affiliated to the university and the administration has failed to effectively control and monitor their standards.

Reports by the Local Inquiry Committees that visit the institutions have indicated that the affiliated colleges do not have the prerequisite facilities. The following observations of the Inquiry Committee under the chairmanship of Prof K Eresi, Department of Commerce, Bangalore University, reflect the poor state of affairs in these colleges.

No separate PG block

Eresi notes that one of the affiliated colleges in the City, despite having postgraduation courses for nearly three decades, does not have a separate PG block, and has only two classrooms for PG students.

Though the institution has acquired new land and has been time and again warned about the persistent problem, it has failed to have a building for PG courses. The college does not have a library for PG students and the courses are being conducted by a guest faculty. In his report, Eresi has recommended that the university stop giving the college permission to start new courses, as the existing courses are in dire straits.

Not a different plight

This is just a single instance. The plight of a majority of the other colleges are not very different.Speaking to Deccan Herald, a student studying in Central College said: “I am depressed. I come from a village and my parents believe that their son is studying in a reputed college. I am worried about my future as I am not sure whether I want to complete the course here.”

In August this year, when ministers C T Ravi and Suresh Kumar visited the university campus along with higher education secretary Siddaiah, they said they were shocked at the condition of the place. Students surrounded the ministers and took them around the campus showing them the poorly maintained hostels and the canteen.

Two days after their inspection, on

August 9, Siddaiah wrote to Vice Chancellor N Prabhu Dev accusing him of
violating the provisions of the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000. On the day of inspection, Siddaiah had remarked that the students were studying in “inhuman” conditions. The higher education secretary has asked Dev to conduct the Syndicate meetings periodically to deal with persistent problems at the university.

Just a week ago, examination irregularities by the university had come to light. The top officials had allowed a few barred colleges affiliated to the university to conduct examinations. This was done on the sly, without informing either the Syndicate or the Academic Council members.

Several academicians who have watched the process closely say that the committees have failed to bring about the necessary reforms.

At the Syndicate meeting held on September 5, members argued with the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar that the Inquiry Committee reports had lost their sanctity. The university has been appointing various committees repeatedly for inspecting the same institutions without any significant result.

After much delay, it was decided that the university will go easy on the affiliation process of its undergraduate colleges as there is a huge demand for seats this year. The university had also delayed the compilation of the committee reports or acting on it. Deciding to disaffiliate colleges at the last minute would be simply unfair to the students.

The inspection has to begin this October to be able to decide on the affiliation for the next academic year, observes Academic Council member Karan Kumar. He said the need of the hour was to evolve a stringent proforma for the committee reports. Colleges must have at least 90 per cent compliance with the university-mandated parameters for affiliation. The members need to be given orientation about measuring the standards for colleges, as with the present norms, each interprets them in his/her way.

It is time, he says, that the inquiry committees become more objective and work without undeserved considerations for colleges. In many cases, there is a nexus between private managements and the university officials.

The method of penalising must be made more stringent so that colleges stick to the prescribed standards of education. “The bottom 50 colleges should not be given affiliation,” he says.

As a chairman of the Task Force for BEd colleges, Kumar has received repeated threats from managements for reporting about their poor infrastructure. “There will always be someone trying to destabilise the system. The silence of the honest is more dangerous than the voice of the guilty. The university needs people who can take up cudgels for its cause,” he said.

Former professor of Botany at MES Degree College, Ravinder Reshme, described the problem thus: There is no organic link between the affiliated colleges and the university. Even inside the university, there is no amiability among professors or the top officials.

Rampant corruption has taken away the credibility of those at the helm of affairs and the advent of BEd and management colleges has become a moneymaking source for many university officials. With regard to setting the inquiry committees and the university co-ordination bodies right, Reshme feels that the Syndicate and the Academic Council hardly have a representation from in-service teachers who know the ground realities.

Those few teacher-representatives who are present are selected from unaided colleges that have no reputation, he says. He suggests that the university officials include in-service teachers in recommendatory bodies as they are clued up on the various facets of the problems.

Semester system

In 2004, Reshme was part of the Task Force for introducing the semester system in degree courses. During his tenure, much spadework was done for examination reforms. He said the university should learn from the Department of Pre-University Education that conducts examinations for a large number of students. “There are other places with a bigger number of students functioning more effectively. The crux is to set the basic human relationship right in the administration.”

The university could also work on expanding the scope of its college development council, which is now limited to allocating the University Grants Commission funds, he said. The days of extension programmes, special lectures and vibrant academic activities have to be brought back to rejuvenate the Bangalore University.

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