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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.

Campus Watch

Last date for Admissions to UHF Diploma extended

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Nauni University Admissions Date for Diploma

Solan: The Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has extended the last date to apply for its one-year Diploma in Fruit and Vegetable Processing and BakeryDiploma in Fruit and Vegetable Processing and Bakery products, informed the Public Relation Officer, Suchet Attri.

The last date to apply for the diploma run by the Department of Food Science and Technology of the university has now been extended to January 29. Earlier the last date for application was January 17. The counselling for the diploma programme will now be held on January 31.

The PRO also informed that this year, the university has also reduced the fee charged for the diploma to Rs 5000. Earlier, the fee for this diploma was Rs 20,000. The decision was taken to ensure that more and more people can apply for the programme, he said.

The minimum educational qualification for this diploma programme is Class 10+2 with at least 40 per cent with no age cap for admission. A total of 35 seats are available in the programme. Prospectus and application form can be downloaded from the university website (www.yspuniversity.ac.in)

The PRO further informed that the programme has also been linked to the Skill Development Allowance scheme of the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Any person enrolled in the programme can also apply for this allowance.

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Campus Watch

Two JRF among HP Varsity’s 11 disabled students who cracked UGC NET 2018

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Disabled HPU Students Clears UGC NET

Shimla-Crossing milestones in academics, disabled students of Himachal Pradesh continue to achieve what is otherwise considered insurmountable for them.

Eleven differently-abled students have cleared UGC’s National Eligibility Test (NET). Two of them qualified for the Junior Research Fellowship. Five of these students are visually impaired.

It’s important to mention that disabled students had to fight a legal battle to claim their right to higher education in Himachal Pradesh University. Even after ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill – 2016’ was passed, the students had to fight for its implementation as the government did not make it easy for them.

Two students who qualified for the JRF include Saveen Janha, an M.Phil in Hindi, and Pankaj Sharma, P.hD in Tourism Administration. Both are physically disabled, informed Ajai Shrivastava, a member of the State Advisory Board on Disability and HPU Executive Council (EC).

Indu Kumari, a visually impaired student, who is pursuing her M.A. in Political Science, cleared the NET examination in her very first attempt. Similarly, visually impaired Roma Negi, a resident of Rampur, has cleared the exam in History in her first attempt. She wants to pursue her P.hD from HP University.

Other names include Anuj Kumar (Economics), Vinod Sharma (Political Science), Jasbir Lubanand (Political Science), Vinod Sharma Yogacharya (Yoga), Priyanka Thakur (Law), Ajay Kumar (History). Some of these students have cleared the NET examination twice. Raj Kumar is a Ph.D in Education and has cleared the NET exam in the same. He had also passed the NET examination in History and this time cleared the exam in Political Science.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sikander Kumar has congratulated all these students and appreciated their hard-work despite facing hardships due to their disability. He said these students have brought laurels to the State.

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Nauni Varsity Admissions Open for Diploma in Fruit, Vegetable Processing & Bakery products

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Nauni varsity admissions for diploma

Solan-The Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni has invited applications for its one-year Diploma in Fruit and Vegetable Processing and Bakery products. The diploma will be run by the Department of Food Science and Technology of the university.

This year, the university has also reduced the fee charged for the diploma to Rs 5000. Earlier, the fee for this diploma was Rs 20,000. The decision was taken to ensure that more and more people can apply for the programme.

In addition, the programme has also been linked to the Skill Development Allowance scheme of the Government of Himachal Pradesh. Any person enrolled in the programme can also apply for this allowance.

The minimum educational qualification for this diploma programme is Class 10+2 with at least 40 per cent with no age cap for admission. The last date of application is 17 January 2019 and the counselling will be held on 19 January.

A total of 35 seats are available in the programme. Prospectus and application form can be downloaded from the university website(www.yspuniversity.ac.in).

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