Anxious to ensure 100% enrolment in graduation courses across the state, the Karnataka government has resorted to a new move that is as draconian as it is bizarre.
The collegiate education department has directed all principals to obtain an undertaking from students that if any course or a combination of core subjects is not chosen by 15 students, then such combinations or courses will be closed, ‘forcing’ students to study subjects other than their original choice.
The decision, which would affect thousands of students, has caught academic circles off guard, as it would be implemented from the ensuing academic year 2019-20 in all the undergraduate colleges.
In a circular addressed to joint directors of collegiate education and principals of various colleges, a copy of which is with DH, the government has directed the authorities to communicate the same to students and obtain a mandatory undertaking from them.
“If the courses or combination of core subjects do not get admission of more than 15 students, colleges shall not admit any students or continue with such courses or combination. Principals must ensure this and communicate the same to the students at the time of admission and obtain an undertaking,” the circular stated.
A senior official of the department said the decision was taken considering the workload of lecturers. “If there are not more than 15 students, it will be difficult for us to provide workload for teachers and they will have to be paid for no work,” the official said.
“There are plenty of combinations available at the undergraduate level and students can choose any of the combinations. Our admission guidelines clearly say there shall be at least 100 students per course,” the official said.
However, the department seems to have a soft corner for subjects like Sanskrit, Urdu, Kannada (optional), English (optional).
“There are some minor courses and subjects which do not see 15 admissions in a year. Such courses have been allowed to function even if there are less than 15 students,” the official clarified.
Reacting sharply over the decision, an aspiring graduate student said the “decision has curtailed our rights”. “If I am keen on studying political science, how can they force me to study sociology?” Similarly, the decision has also left hundreds of lecturers in a fix as they will be transferred to far off places.
“If the courses or subjects are discontinued for lack of students, lecturers of such subjects will be transferred to those colleges where there is enough workload,” the official revealed.
When DH reached out to Higher Education Minister GT Devegowda, he said he was not aware of such a decision. “We have not taken any decision at the government level. I will seek details from the officials concerned.”