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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 7 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 world around him in his DSLR lens.

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HP Cabinet Decisions: Nod to Hamirpur medical college admissions to 100 seats and Motor Vehicle Act amendment

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Hamirpur medical collage building

Shimla: The Cabinet of Himachal Pradesh Government, in a meeting, held on June 13, 2018. In this meeting, the Cabinet gave its nod to admitting 100 students to Dr Radha Krishanan Medical College, Hamirpur from academic session 2018-19.

With this, six medical colleges have become functional in the State with each college having admission capacity of 100 students, said the Cabinet.

The Cabinet also decided to restrict the quota of NRI seats in order to provide more merit-based admissions.

It accorded nod to engage 100 posts of Accountant-cum-Support Staff and 30 posts of Data Entry Operators at block level under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan.

The Cabinet approved the guidelines to start ‘Akhand Shiksha Jyoti, Mere School Se Nikle Moti, as per the ‘Swarnima Himachal Drishti Patra’ to honour pass out students from the government schools who had made a mark in their life. Under this scheme, names of such personalities would be inscribed on the display board of concerned schools.

The Cabinet also approved an amendment in Rule-69A of Motor Vehicle Act, 1999 for rationalization of fee structure for contract carriages from other States. The government is expected to hike the tax paid by the carriage vehicles entering into Himachal from other states.

The Cabinet also decided to enhance the honorarium of part-time Water Carriers working on contract basis in Education Department from Rs. 1900 to Rs. 2200 from April 1, 2018.

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Nauni Varsity all set for entrance exam with 50% reservation for rural Govt school students

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UHF Nauni Entrance Test details

Solan: This year, over 5600 students from all over Himachal Pradesh will appear in the entrance test for three undergraduate programmes of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni.

The entrance test for admission to B Sc (Hons) Horticulture, B Sc (Hons) Forestry and B Tech Biotechnology programmes will be held on June 16 at 11:00 am at four cities in Himachal.

The test is being held to fill up 150 seats including 58 reserved seats for various categories in the three constituent colleges of the university. The admission in these courses under the self-financed mode is open till June 30 (without late fee).

Test Centers

At Solan, the test centres have been established at College of Forestry and College of Horticulture at the University campus and at Government Degree College, Solan.

 In Palampur, the test will be held at KLB DAV College for Girls. In Sundernagar, the test venues will be Polytechnic College, Jawaharlal Nehru Government Engineering College and Government Senior Secondary School (Boys).

The Government Degree College, Hamirpur and UHF’s College of Horticulture and Forestry, Neri, will be the test venues at Hamirpur.

The university has followed an online system for applying to various courses run by the university at Nauni and Neri. The admit cards were auto-generated once an applicant finished his online application process. The students who have not yet downloaded the admit card can do so from their email addresses also, as a copy of it has been mailed on it,

said Rajesh Kumar, Registrar of the University.

The university has also set up a helpline number 01792 252009 on which the student can contact regarding their queries. The helpline service will be operational from 10 am to 5 pm. O On the day of the test day, it will be active from 8:00 am onwards. The students have also been advised to reach the examination venue before 10:15 am.

Increased seats for wards of Defence personnel

From this academic session, the university has also doubled the reserved seats for wards of serving and retired Defence and Central Armed Police personnel wanting to pursue higher studies in Horticulture and Forestry from the university.

 The total number of reserved seats for such students in all disciplines has now gone up to 14.

In addition, the university from the last academic session has reserved 50 percent seats in its undergraduate programme for the students of Government Schools located in rural areas of Himachal

 Any student who has completed any two of the three examinations (8th, 10th or 12th) from any government school located in the rural areas of Himachal is eligible for seats under this category.  

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76 Nauni Varsity students qualify ICAR NET this year

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Nauni Vasity ICAR NET

Solan: As many as 76 postgraduate students of Nauni based Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry have qualified the Indian Council for Agricultural Research National Eligibility Test (ICAR NET), thereby establishing the university’s position among the top agricultural universities in the country.

Out of the total, 58 students are from the College of Horticulture while 19 students are from the College of Forestry of the university. This number has seen a jump over the last year’s figure when 68 students from the university had cleared the exam.

This is a great achievement for us. The increase in the number of students clearing the national examination strengthens our resolve to excel in the field of education and confirms our position among the top agricultural universities of the country,

said UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma, Deans and faculty of the University.

The students who have qualified the NET examination will be eligible for the selection to the post of Assistant Professors in various agricultural universities in the country.

The selected students belong to varied streams like Forest Products, Soil Science, Silviculture and Agroforestry, Basic Sciences, Environmental Science, Fruit Science, Floriculture and Landscape Architecture, Entomology, Vegetable Science, Biotechnology, Seed Science, Social Sciences, Plant Pathology and Management Sciences.

Over the years, the students of the university have performed well at the state and national level examinations. In addition, many of the students have gone on to occupy top positions in national and international organizations and companies.

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