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Unknown consequences haunt HPU again as Govt scraps semester system under RUSA in haste

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HP University RUSA semester system scrapped

The biggest concern is that the varsity would now be giving degrees under four different systems 

Shimla: Once again, unknown consequences haunt the students and faculty at the Himachal Pradesh University and affiliated colleges as the Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj on June 7, 2018, announced a roll-back of semester system to restore the previous system of annual examination.

The teachers and majority of academicians are of the opinion that the varsity had almost settled with the semester system and the errors it had been making. Things were getting smoother with the passage of time. There was no need to shift from the semester system to the previous pattern, they believe.

The Minister supported this decision referring to the recommendations of the special committee the State government had formed to review the RUSA. Internal sources at the varsity and media persons suggested that the original report has warned of negative consequences of this decision. However, the Minister denied it at the conference. 

The biggest concern is that the varsity would now be giving degrees under four different systems – according to previous marks based annual examination systems, the first version of RUSA implemented in 2013, the reformed version in agreement with norms of the University Grants Commission implemented in nationwide institutes in 2016, and under newly announced annual examination system.

The Minister was blank when asked how the varsity/faculty would deal with this mess of conducting examinations under four different patterns and then evaluating them.

He said the varsity would take care of it, and they’ll see how to do it.

Now, the varsity will have to prepare new syllabus just a week ahead of the admissions for the session 2018-19 beginning from June 15.

When the Minister was asked whether the date of the admission would be extended considering the new decision, he said it would be sorted out soon.

It implies the Minister did not do any homework prior to taking this decision.

When asked about the decision, some faculty members of the HPU and experienced educationists Himachal Watcher talked to believed there was no need to do so, and it was done in a haste once again. 

Majority of the faculty and administration of HPU said the decision is more politically motivated than being in the interests of the students.

Further, the strongest reason that could be attributed to this decision was the mounting pressure from the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the opposition as the Bhartiya Janta Party had made a promise to do so in its vision document released for the elections to the HP Legislative Assembly in 2017. 

The Minister was heard repeating that it was a poll-promise of the BJP so the government had to fulfil it. However, he seems to be indifferent to the complexities of again shifting to an older version.

An experienced faculty member unofficially said the Minister or the Committee seems to have ignored the fact that situation was different at the time of its implementation in HP University and colleges affiliated to it back in 2013. 

It was the mess created by faulty and haphazard implementation in Himachal in 2013 due to which RUSA had faced fierce protests from students and faculty. The teachers were over-burdened and had a little knowledge regarding the way a Choice Based Credit System works.

The results were late and full of errors as the faculty struggled to understand and assess grades under the new system. In 2016, 90 percent students were declared fail after the result was out. The varsity had to re-do it after the protests. The results were late during first two years and students even faced problem in enrolling at varsities in other states.

Himachal Watcher had also criticized the poor implementation and the inconvenience the students and faculty were facing due to it. However, RUSA system is not faulty in itself. It has the capacity to create higher education institutes at par with the international institutes if implemented wisely and in a transparent manner. 

The State had implemented it haphazardly. The varsity did not possess sufficient infrastructure, facilities, and faculty for such a sudden shift from marks based annual examination system to RUSA’s Choice Based Credit System with semester wise exams.

Further, at a time when the centre decided to boost the budget allocation under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) four times than it was in 2013 considering the visible reforms in the higher education, the Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to tamper with it.

The ambitious Centrally Sponsored Scheme had begun with a modest budget of Rs. 500 in 2013, and by March 2018, the government had increased it to Rs. 13,000 crore.

By March 2016, a total of 115 Universities and 1218 colleges had been approved by RUSA Project Approval Body or infrastructure grants. These approvals were accorded to the proposals included in the respective State Higher Education Plans (SHEPs).

It attended to the discrimination India’s education institutes were facing as the government was more inclined towards spending on premier institutes like Indian Institute of Management and Indian Institutes of Technology. The other varsities were burdened with the responsibility to fetch funds through their own resources.

The RUSA, however, was intended to provide financial support to proposals contained in State Higher Education Plan (SHEP) approved by the State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) in order to achieve the objectives of equity, access and quality.

The fund releases were linked with performance and learning-teaching outcomes.

According to IIT Bombay’s independent performance review (of four years) of the scheme done in 2017, the funding linked to reforms has had a visible impact on higher education. The gross enrolment ratio (GER) was 19.4%, faculty vacancies were at 60%, and the teacher-student ratio was quite poor at 1:24 in 2013 when it was first introduced. In 2018, the GER was reported to be at 25.2%.

The faculty vacancies dropped to 35% as the States lifted the ban on faculty recruitment. The teacher-student ratio is now in better shape at 1:20.

Several universities in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been right-sized, and critical governance reforms such as the formation of the SHEC and merit-based appointments of vice-chancellors in Odisha, Goa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are visible,

said the review.

There has been an improvement in the number of institutions accredited and their scores. In 2012, 106 State universities and 4,684 colleges were accredited. By 2017, an additional 145 State universities and 5,445 Colleges were accredited

it further said.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Campus Watch

Himachal Shuts Down All Educational Institutes A Week After Re-Opening 

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Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutes closed again

Shimla-A week after re-opening for regular classes, the Himachal Pradesh Government had to shut down all government and private schools, colleges, ITIs, polytechnics, engineering colleges and coaching institutes from 11th to 25th November 2020, for students, teaching and non-teaching staff amid alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting held on November 10, 2020. It’s pertinent to mention that the state government had re-opened the school for the students of 9th to 12th from November 2. However, during the past few days, hundreds of teachers and several students tested positive in various schools, especially in Mandi district.

Meanwhile, the unpreparedness of the state government came to light as the largest medical facility – IGMC Shimla- ran out of space in isolation wards for COVID-19 patients. It’s packed to full capacity. Reportedly, another dedicated COVID-19 hospital – DDU Shimla- was also running out of space. The government has also failed to establish make-shift hospitals, which it had been promising for the past couple of months. However, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining in media statements that the government was prepared for all eventualities.

Questions have also been raised over the quality of protective gear provided to health staff as several officials tested positive at a COVID-19 hospital in Mandi district.

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Nauni Varsity Session 2020-21: List of Selected Candidates for UG Courses Released

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UHF Nauni UG Course Selection list 2020-21

Solan: Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has released the college and discipline wise list of selected candidates, both for normal and self-financing seats for admission to BSc Horticulture, BSc Forestry and B Tech Biotechnology for academic session 2020-21. The list of selected candidates, college and discipline wise has been prepared on the basis of counselling proformas and the relevant reservation documents submitted by the candidates through email. 

The selected candidates have been advised to deposit the admission fee in the respective bank accounts of the colleges on any day between 9-12 November. Presently due to COVID, the concessional fee is being charged from the candidates. The candidates will have to send a copy of the bank receipt no/ screenshot of the fee deposited online on the email of the colleges mentioned in the notification. Non-deposit of the fee within the due date will result in the cancellation of the claim for admission.

The candidates are advised to go through the detailed notification uploaded on the university website. The concessional fee details, bank account numbers of respective colleges along with email address has been given in the list. In view of COVID, the classes of the students will be conducted through online mode till further orders.  

The selected candidates shall have to report to the dean of the concerned college along with original documents(list mentioned in the notification) as and when directed by the way of a notice on the university website.

 

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Himachal’s Schools/Colleges to Re-Open for Regular Classes from Today  

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Himachal's schools re-open for regular classes

Shimla-Schools in Himachal Pradesh are today re-opening for regular classes after remaining closed for over seven months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was taken to allow regular classes for the students of Class 9th to 12th  in the last meeting of the Cabinet. However, online classes would also continue. Regular classes would also be resumed in the colleges from today onwards.

The SOPs have also been issued in this regard. According to the SOPs, a written consent of parents to send their children to schools would be mandatory, and the students can opt to study online if they do not wish to attend the school physically.

Also, schools can’t enforce attendance on students. In case the number of students is more than that of the capacity of classrooms, then principals/headmasters have been given liberty to conduct classes on alternate days to maintain social distancing.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to tighten grip on the state as eight deaths were reported on November 1, 2020. Over two dozen staff including Dr Janak Raj, MS, also tested positive at the IGMC Shimla. Earlier, 22 school teachers in Mandi district and Education Minister had also tested positive.

Till November 1, 2020 (9 PM), the official statistics of the state Health Department showed the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to be 22264, of which 2973. A total of 320 persons had lost their lives due to COVID-19. 

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