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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.

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HPU College Teachers Condemn Lowering Pass Percentage to Improve RUSA Results, Student Organizations in Favour

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HPU Lower Passing percentage in RUSA 2

Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh University appears to have succumbed to the pressure from students as it recently issued a notification announcing lowering the pass percentage from 45 percent to 40 percent. The university also withdrew the criteria of separately obtaining qualifying marks for the Continuous Comprehensive Assessment (CCA) and scrapped the End Semester Examination (ESE). The announcement came following reports of poor results of Under-graduate Classes under RUSA system.

While the students and student organizations have welcomed this decision, the Himachal Pradesh College Teachers Association has condemned it. The teachers are of the view that reducing pass percentage alongwith withdrawing ESE and mandatory condition of obtaining 35% in CCA would only degrade the quality of education. The teachers termed lowering passing percentage as a very poor step to improve examination results. The teachers further complained that the university amended the provision without consulting all stakeholders and considering the negative implications of this decision.

The Association is of the opinion that the university is playing with the future of the students and the quality of education for the sake of improving results. The teachers also termed the decision contrary to the claims of the government to introduce quality in education.

Because now the students are required to obtain only 10 to 14 percent marks in the End Semester Exams instead of 35 percent, the teachers said, they would be under pressure to grant students 28 to 30 marks in CCA, which was decided based on three aspects: attendance, mid-term test, and overall assessment through assignment, tests, class seminars, and assignments.

On the other hand, student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad has welcomed this decision.

“ABVP welcomes this decision. Prior to the introduction of RUSA, the passing percentage used to be 35 percent, and the number of subjects was also lesser. But now, under RUSA, the passing percentage was 45 percent, and the number of subjects was also higher. Moreover, there was a mandatory condition of securing passing marks in theory and CCA separately,”

Yograj Dogra, the Campus President of ABVP told Himachal Watcher.

“Moreover, it was ABVP that had raised this demand of lower passing percentage and scrap mandatory condition of securing 35 percent in CCA,”

he further added.

The Student Federation of India has not released any statement regarding this decision so far. However, SFI has also been advocating lowering of pass percentage to improve the results.

In May, the students had approached the Vice-Chancellor with a plea to reduce the pass percentage arguing that 70 percent of students who had appeared in the examination of the fifth semester were flunked. About 2600 students had scored below 10 marks and 900 had scored zero. The students had complained that there is no provision of re-evaluation under RUSA. For re-checking, students were made to pay a hefty Rs. 400 fee per subject, which was termed as financial exploitation of the students.

On June 14, 2019, the University issued a notification stating that the Vice-Chancellor has approved changes in these conditions.

“The pass percentage for the students of Under-Graduate Classes under RUSA(CBCS) system for the academic session 2016 and 2017 onwards be reduced to 40 percent instead of 45 percent to maintain the uniformity with the Annual system. However, the rewards of Practical examinations shall be kept apart, and it will only be calculated after the candidate secures 40 percent marks in CCA and ESE,”

it said.

The notification further said,

“The criteria of qualifying marks (i.e. 35%) for CCA and End Semester Examinations separately shall be considered withdrawn.”

The Teachers’ Association is of the view that the university has taken this decision to benefit a handful of politically backed students. The long-term results would be fatal for the academic standards and the future of the students, the Association believes.

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Nauni Varsity Ranked Highest in NIRF Rankings for Past 3 Years as it Leads in Academics, Extension and Research

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UHF Nauni Varsity in Last Three Years

Solan-The past three years have been highly successful for Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, and the university has made rapid strides on all the three fronts- academics, extension and research, informed the Public Relation Officer, Suchet Attri.

He said that Dr HC Sharma, who will be completing a successful term as university Vice-Chancellor on June 14, credits the whole university for this unprecedented success. Dr Sharma has thanked the government for its support in improving the financial situation of the university in the past three years. He informed that the sanctioned budget of the university has increased from Rs 64.25 cr to 90.5 crores and the domestic income rose from Rs. 19.79 crore in 2016-17 to Rs. 29.27 crores in 2018-19. This figure is expected to touch Rs. 32.6 crores in the current financial year. Owing to the improvement in the financial health, the university has been able to clear long pending dues (since 2011) of the employees and pensioners worth over Rs. 41.27 crores, he said.

He further informed that the university has been the highest ranked in the NIRF rankings in Himachal Pradesh for the past three years. The university achieved 80th position in the top 100 universities in the country and is the only one from the state to make it into the list. This year only nine agricultural horticulture universities from the country were in the top 100 list. In the ICAR State agriculture Universities ranking, UHF improved its ranking from 51 in 2016 to 38 in 2017. In the past three years, 44 positions of scientists and several posts of the non-teaching staff were filled by the university and 80 additional positions of scientists/assistant professors have also been approved by the Government, which will be filled up very soon. The student intake of the university also increased from 1250 in 2016 to 2250 in 2018/19.

The University has taken a great leap forward and a new College of Horticulture is being established at Thunag with a budget outlay of over Rs. 70 crores, he added. It is expected to give a major boost to horticulture and forestry activities in the area. The process of ICAR accreditation of the College of Horticulture and Forestry, Neri has also been completed and the college is expected to accredited soon.

The university has made significant progress in research and infrastructure development. During the past three years, the grant from ICAR and other central resources has increased significantly and the university received more than 10 crores assistance from ICAR over the past two years.  Several works like the Pavilion block and stadium (Rs. 1.20 Crores), gymnasium (Rs 25 lakh), Lab. for Soil Testing: (Rs. 45 lakh), Examination Halls (Rs. 2.00 Crores) Boys Hostel-(Rs. 2.50 Crores), Girls Hostel-VII – (Rs. 2.50 Crores) and other works worth several crores of rupees were commissioned and completed. On 1st December 2018, the Hon’ble Governor and Chancellor of the University inaugurated the newly constructed girls’ hostel at Nauni Campus, and one girls’ hostel and UG block constructed at Neri, were inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Jai Ram Thakur in October 2018.

The crowning glory for the university, the PRO said, was the 9th Convocation of the university held on 21st May 2018, which was presided over by the Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind. The Governor of Himachal Pradesh Acharya Devvrat and Chief Minister Shri Jai Ram Thakur also graced the event. On the research front, scientists developed several varieties and technologies.

Varieties like Solan Giriganga in ginger, Solan Srijan in cucumber, Epicotyl grafting technique in walnut, high-density orchards of apple, guava, litchi, and mango were developed by the university. The university was successful in getting projects worth over Rs. 18.37 crores from various funding agencies in the past three years. Several technologies that were developed by the scientists were transferred to the entrepreneurs and the industry. The Botanical Survey of India signed an MoU with the University for opening up a Western Himalayan High Altitude Regional Circle at the university with a budget outlay of Rs 15 crore. The university has also been shortlisted for the Rs 30 crore project of the ICAR, which aims at strengthening undergraduate education in the university.

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Sanjauli College Himachal’s First to Offer Paperless and Cashless Facilities: Edu Minister

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Sanjauli College Website

Shimla-With the launch of its new website (www.gcsanjauli.com), the Centre of Excellence Government College Sanjauli has become the first college in Himachal Pradesh to provide paperless and cashless facility to its students. The website, however, redirects to sub-domain (https://gcsanjauli.highalteducation.in/) when students click on the button given for online admission portal.

The Education Minister, who launched the website, said that with this launch the college students will get an online registration facility. They will be able to fill up more than one form and will have the facility to update their forms online.

The students can also deposit their fees on this website by using HDFC payment gateway. The students can pay by various online payment methods including payment through debit and credit cards, e-wallets, Paytm etc.

The Principal Dr. C.B Mehta further informed that there are total 600 seats in Arts category, 20 in English Honors, 80 in Commerce, 140 in Medical, 140 in Non-Medical, 40 in BCA, 90 in Vocational Course (45 in Retail Management and 45 in Hospitality and Tourism). Other than these courses, the College is also offering a course in Journalism and Mass Communication from this session.

He also informed that several online application were received soon after the launch of the website.

The website was developed by a Shimla-based company.

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