KU’s blinding evening vision

KU’s blinding evening vision

Srinagar: Kashmir University’s proposed supplementary shift has led to squabbles even before it takes off this session. The University administration seems to be in a hurry to go ahead with the proposal despite the fact it has neither the infrastructure nor resources to implement the scheme. As of now, revenue generation seems to be the only motive behind the idea of having evening classes in the varsity.
Last week, Kashmir University came out with a proposal of starting evening or a supplementary shift in the campus. For this, applications from students desirous of seeking admissions in these classes were invited. But the million dollar question that authorities in KU fail to answer is: where is the infrastructure and staff for holding these classes?
Dean Academic Affairs, Kashmir University, Professor Mohammad Ashraf Wani has a ready answer: “The varsity would develop the infrastructure out of the students’ fee of supplementary shift in a year”.
“We will raise the money from this supplementary shift to create good infrastructure so that in the future we won’t call it a second shift, but second session. Also, more students will be accommodated next year,” he told Kashmir Reader.
Currently, the University has inadequate classrooms sans proper audio-visual equipment, a shortage of teaching staff, no residential campus and no transport facility available. In such a scenario, the proposal has met with strong opposition from the faculty who question the logic behind its implementation.  Jammu University has already shelved a similar idea. The proposal for both the universities was mooted by the recent PDP-BJP government.
There is now a rift between the pro-proposal lobby, which includes Vice-Chancellor Prof Khurshid Andrabi, and sections among the faculty, who fear the project would further dip the University’s performance.
Kashmir Reader has learnt that when the proposal was discussed in several meetings led by the Vice Chancellor, critical voices were ignored. The science faculty, in particular, raised questions over the lack of resources, such as classrooms and laboratories.  Many also picked holes in how the Law and History departments had managed this shift, given that these departments had already implemented it two years ago. The History department, in fact, outsourced evening shift classrooms to the Commerce department because of the lack of infrastructure. Now, the department has started construction of additional classrooms out of its own departmental funds.

Why it won’t succeed?
The University started a choice-based credit system last year according to which a post-graduate student will have to attend five hour-long classes every day, while research scholars will have to attend two hours of classes each day in the first year. This meant a student’s classwork begins from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm. Then, Science stream students shall have to undergo laboratory work, whose time depends on the nature of experiments. Normally, a Science student or a scholar calls it a day somewhere between 6.00 -7.00 pm in the summers.
Prof Ashraf said the evening classes would start after 3.00 pm which, as per the credit system, would go on till midnight! So, where are students supposed to go after midnight when there is no accommodation available in the campus? He admitted University hostels can hold only 20 percent students, and insisted students should take rented accommodation in the University area.
“A sincere student won’t shuttle between his home and the University, which is time consuming. We have talked to transporters at Hazratbal and they are willing to ferry students up to city center,” he added.
Where is the faculty?
Over 50 vacant faculty positions are yet to be advertised. According to Dean Academic Affairs, the varsity proposes to hire contractual teachers for the second shift. Also, willing varsity teachers can be paid extra money if they take up the classes.
“Adhocism will deteriorate the quality of education and overall university rating system while there will be no accountability,” said many senior faculty members, pleading anonymity. However, Prof Ashraf believed such elements don’t want to see the University progress. Each year, the University admits around 3,500 out of 17,000 aspirants through a qualification test.  And one of the reasons for holding evening classes is the number of dropped students, he avers.
“They (dropped students) are poor and cannot afford to go outside for education. The evening shift is an opportunity to give space to an equal number of students, which people must appreciate,” Ashraf said.
Notwithstanding his concern for “poor” students, the supplementary shift is going to burn a hole in students’ pockets as they will have to shell out anything between Rs 50,000 to 200,000 lakh, depending on the subject.

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