Research in Colleges: To Be Or Not To Be?

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Basharat Hassan

The Jammu and Kashmir Higher Education Department’s order to permit college faculties to guide research scholars deserves much debate and discussion before a conclusion is arrived. The order does not involve only the two chambers of the faculty: one working in universities and the second working in colleges, but, at large, the research scholar fraternity. So, before nodding in the affirmative or casting off the plan, an in-depth deliberation is essential to secure genuine research and research aspirants.
The colleges, if approved to work as research stations, may hamper not only the research in the state but also affect college education. To allow college teachers as research guides/ supervisors firstly will badly hit the college students. The problem of students does not start from the day they receive Post Graduation degree din their hands from different universities of the state but they are actually baptized to this state of worries when they pass out from colleges. The Kashmir University, Hazratbal, which always remains the priority of the students for Masters Programs (only exceptions prioritize JNU or AMU) accommodate a minimal portion of the student fraternity. The cream layer which the university grabs is not satisfied with the University administration, and academics. The courses hardly get completed, at the scheduled dates, usually the two year courses take three years and ,at times, more than that. It is here where human potential is lost.
The precious one year which these students consume in repeating the same syllabus and notes, should have been invested in research. So, to improve research, the Kashmir University administration and academics necessitates improvement.
It is also the need of hour that Kashmir University accommodates more students for different courses and makes fresh appointments. The gathering of hundred thirty students in single room is not a class the teacher faces, but a crowd. Neither the teacher can maintain attendance register nor impart education to this crowd. This crowd needs to be divided into different sections to transform into classes, which will require more teachers to be engaged for the purpose. These fresh permanent appointments will also engage and harness researchers.
Those who do not get admission in Kashmir University do apply in rest of the universities in the state. Though the number of the universities in the state is not so bad but these universities offer much limited subject choices. In most of these universities, few subjects are offered to students. So, the priority should be to introduce more and more subjects in these universities coupled with appointments. It will augment both employment opportunities as well as research potential.
The two cluster universities in the state are a bright option to solve this problem. If Post Graduate courses are introduced in the ten colleges (campuses of these universities) accommodating fifty students, if not in all subjects but , at least, in most of the subjects and three fresh faculties in each of subject are appointed. A good portion of the students who either take admission in ‘not much reputed universities’ outside the state because of lack of exposure or financial and other insecurities propel them to discontinue education might pass smiles on their faces by getting admission in these universities. Through this, employment will be created and research potential multiplied.
This does not mean that entire lot of the research aspirants and all meritorious students fulfilling the criteria for various fellowships will be accommodated in these universities of the state. Neither should we discourage the students to apply for research outside the state; rather, the next generation students need to be encouraged and guided to apply in world renowned universities. This can only be done when our present lot of research scholars will return back with research profiles from these universities. A lot of our talent is wasted because of lack of guidance and counseling will get utilized.
To allow research in colleges will be a bad idea. The student teacher ratio in colleges is already imbalanced. The colleges, in themselves, are in dire need of more faculties and infrastructure. Most of the teachers in colleges work on an ad hoc basis. The Government Degree College , Sumbal, has 24 departments and engages only 55 teachers for more than 2000 students and out of these 55 only 17 are permanent faculties. The Government Degree College, Kangan, employs only 9 permanent faculties. Though, all the colleges are not in the same position, but most are. The issue is that presently these colleges are lacking infrastructure. The library and playground is mostly needed in these colleges. The laboratories are actually some rooms in a college, with old dusted equipment in cupboards. Our students hardly attend practical classes and very few teachers in these colleges are able to do so. To build infrastructure and maintain libraries and laboratories in all these colleges for the utility of research is not only a time consuming process, but also entails heavy sum of money.
The research in colleges will also marginalize the college students. The college students will be taught by ad hoc teachers. It will also infiltrate the notion of ‘elitism’ in these colleges, where the ad hoc teachers will be obliged to work more and paid less. Corruption will be the unwanted outcome of this system.
So, if the state authorities are serious to generate research potential, they should sanction finances to the already established universities to extend the different academic courses and make fresh appointments. The infrastructure of these universities must be improved. The validated and sophisticated equipment be facilitated in the laboratories of these universities and libraries must be augmented as knowledge and data repositories. This is where the solution lies.

—The author is a Ph D Research Scholar at Aligarh Muslim University.