The argument behind the proposal of disaffiliation is that a large number of affiliated colleges associated with either a Central or state University stands as burden on the latter, their underperformance having a direct relation to their size. So, there must be a change in the affiliation system. As a remedy of colleges and universities are differentiated into some best colleges upgraded to universities, some less privileged clustered to evolve as universities and the remaining number of colleges, otherwise called ‘community colleges’ to remain support less, non- affiliated and left to themselves to arrange for their resource for self- sustenance.
A totally unwarranted and undemocratic proposition, this discriminates colleges and universities into a fewer elitist institutions for the privileged rich and overwhelmingly numerous pariahs for the hapless common students.
If the issue is to maintain standard or quality, the reformists, by proposing this measure which is in the nature of a structural change, in effect, evade their responsibility towards ensuring quality education itself. In fact, they omit, rather evade, any discussion on the fact that this system of affiliating colleges to a university evolved historically with the introduction of modern education in fulfillment of certain demands of reality of people’s necessity.
Colleges affiliated to a University not just increase the size of the latter, but they follow the academic patterns set by the leading academicians associated with that University and, even if remotely placed, can thus take the advantage of their experience and wisdom. Thus, students of even an unassuming, rather backward college do have the chance of studying under the same system as those of renowned colleges and can earn the degree whose worth is determined on the reputation and standing of the parent University. As such, they enjoy the possibility of developing themselves, placing themselves at an equal rank with the students of better colleges.
But is it not yet again a measure which upgrades institutions for the affluent into privileged seats of education, but relegates ‘community colleges’ to common poorer students into self -sustaining doomed institutions? Is it not another attempt to anyhow deprive the poor from their legitimate claim for a decent quality education of real worth? Rather, the reformists stand for pampering the privileged further, at the cost of the poor cast- asides who are further fleeced of their scopes!
What disaster disaffiliation can bring about may be visualized, the introduction of self financing course, much to the detriment if general courses or subjects. Student’s hostels are being vacated to accommodate the new departments of self financing courses; students taking admission to the latter paying higher fees are preferred for gaining admission to the hostels. Teachers of general subjects are asked to work for the allied newly introduced self financing courses, even at the cost of running the general course.
Such is the ground reality arising from whatever amounts of reforms have been given effect to. Universities, in essence, are asked to turn themselves into real estate developers and education shops; the majority of colleges are left to fend for themselves with a handful few pampered to groom a privileged band of students who would showcase India in the global market; teachers are put on leash of corporate designs with carrots of big salaries, mingled with an ambience of mutual mistrust in the fraternity, give -and-take relation with students and above all. Students are lured with chants of lucrative careers that largely remain elusive for the majority but do not fail to indoctrinate them with a self seeking attitude without any concern for society or even their own families. While all these go on with the spate of so-called reforms, the basic design flow underneath increasingly larger numbers of students are forced to fall out from the main stream of getting education of any worth. Education is curtailed from them to be left as a privilege for their moneyed counterparts.
—The writer is chief spokesperson of the J& K RTI Foundation. He can be reached at: [email protected]