‘Rationalise department, teach courses in demand’: UGC to Central Universities

UGC has told central universities to consider the number, “demand of students”. DU teachers say this will endanger Indian language departments.

‘Rationalise department, teach courses in demand’: UGC to Central Universities Delhi University Teachers Association have demanded withdrawal of the UGC letter asking central universities to teach courses "in demand" (Picture source: Wikimedia Commons)
R. Radhika | Jan 4, 2022 - 4:34 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission has written to all the central universities to consider “rationalising” courses, offering them based on “demand of students” and the number of students attending the course. A section of teachers at Delhi University, including members of DU’s academic and executive councils, fear this will mean the erasure of departments teaching Indian languages.

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In a letter addressed to the registrars of all central universities, the UGC observed that “there are some departments which were started in central universities without any assessment of the number of students interested in such courses”. The letter by V. Talreja, undersecretary, University Grants Commission, was sent to the higher education institutes on December 28.

A section of executive council members of Delhi University have raised concerns over the UGC’s direction. The teachers said that the academic decisions for university are now taken by the “integrated finance division of ministry” as opposed to the executive and academic councils of the university.

The directives of the education ministry, if implemented, will push the central universities to close several courses that do not have high enrollments.

According to the letter, in May 2020, the department of higher education had fixed norms to start a department in central universities within the initial five years of their existence. “ The department of higher education (DHE) in their note no 9-23/2017IFD dated 26.05.2020 had already fixed norms for the no. of departments that can be opened in the university in their initial five years keeping in mind the no. of students expected to give the department,” the letter said.

The UGC has further asked the universities to “rationalise” the departments with the number of students and teaching staff aligned with the number of students. However, a section of teachers said that this move could lead to shutting down of a number of courses, and degree programmes in Indian languages are especially at risk.

UGC, University Grants Commission, IIT, IIT delhi, Central University, Delhi University, DU, Language courses, Dharmendra PradhanThe education ministry directives, if implemented, will lead to the closing down of several courses with low enrollment

UGC letter: ‘Farcical propaganda’

Criticising the UGC letter, the executive council and academic council along with members of Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) wrote to the DUTA president demanding action on Tuesday. “This letter will also deepen the existential crisis for new emerging areas, pure academic disciplines and Indian languages…The dominance of the market will take away the social justice concerns from the university system,” the letter said. Urdu departments in five Delhi University colleges have been shut down in recent years, The Telegraph reported

DU’s Democratic Teacher Front also condemned the letter which it said highlighted the “farcical propaganda ” of the union government of promoting languages in National Education Policy or NEP 2020. “The vision of the [government] should be different from choices students make owing to the pressures of job prospects. This UGC advice will not only see small language and some social science Departments closing down across universities and colleges and loss of jobs for teachers and scholars but also truncate growth of research in these areas. It will weaken these subjects at the school level too,” a statement said.

The “rationalisation”, the statement further said, will create a burden on ad-hoc teachers in DU. “ Any such move is unacceptable especially in DU, where 4500 teachers have been working on an ad-hoc basis for the last several years. It is of the utmost importance that Absorption as per correct roster must be immediately implemented,” it said.

A similar rationalisation was also proposed for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) by the ministry in February last year. A council of IITs, headed by then education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, had recommended that IITs cut down the teaching staff to a lower number. IITs have been facing faculty shortage, especially with respect to reserved category teachers.

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