It is highly encouraging that the University of Kashmir being first choice of students in Kashmir for higher studies has been included in the list of top 50 Universities in India by the National Institutional Ranking Framework 2018. While, this is important, but the University suffers from some severe structural issues, which I would like to bring to your notice.
While the former Vice Chancellor of the varsity, took various steps for the upliftment of academics, but he failed, on account of which the University of Kashmir has lost potential. In beginning, students who were enrolled in various programmes were jubilant to see their selection at Kashmir University. However, most now regret their decision for joining distance as well as regular mode Programmes, because of endless visits to the Kashmir University to conduct contact classes and examination; Kashmir University had taken a lackadaisical approach towards it and put students in a great dilemma. Students believe their tryst with Kashmir University has been marred by tragedies from the day of enrolment and feel “Kashmir University makes you old”.
The main reason behind the delaying in examination is due to the implementation of semester system, which was borrowed from American Universities, but completely failed here. Not only this, but poor academic management in implementation of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), has created more chaos and confusion not only among the students, but also the teaching staff in the affiliated colleges offering Under-Graduate Programmes. The CBCS which was introduced by Kashmir University authorities, is now being recognized as a failure as well as a disaster in the state’s Higher education system, as the guide lines put forth by University Grants Commission for running CBCS system have not been properly adhered, by which the issue of access and quality rank near the top had now declined.
The ironical situation is that, the 2016 batch enrolled students have recently appeared in their 3rd semester examination and their 2nd semester results have not yet been declared. This situation on the part of Kashmir University administration puts ever stakeholder in a great dilemma: how and when the backlog examinations for such candidates who have failed in their previous semesters, will get conducted.
Interestingly, students from Kashmir division enrolled in Regional Centers of Indira Gandhi National Open University New Delhi (IGNOU) and Maulana Azad National Urdu University Hyderabad (MANUU), which are running distance mode Programmes have completed their degrees on time, as the authorities managed to conduct examinations, even when examinations were delayed first because of 2014 floods and 2016 summer unrest, which threw the entire academic calendar out of gear. Other Universities in Kashmir division like Islamic University of Science and Technology Awantipora (IUST), Sheri-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKAUST) Shalimar Srinagar, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) which is running in various off-site campuses, have also managed to conduct their examinations without any further delay.
This poor academic session does not allow its constituents any room for creativity in teaching, learning, curriculum development or research. The delay in examination can be eliminated, if we have an autonomous administrative system for conducting the examination in an organized way. In such a structure, quality enhancement can only be brought about by reducing the burden at the university level and giving greater autonomy and accountability to the constituent Colleges at Under Graduate level through affiliation reforms. The Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Rashtriya Uchatar Shiksha Abhyian (RUSA) had initially drafted the academic reform system, for introducing the semester system, which has been drafted in collaboration with heads of central, state and deemed universities across India, to promote more responsive, diverse, and flexible learning. However, the University of Kashmir has completely failed to implement the basic purpose of semester system.
It is therefore incumbent upon you to undertake periodic review of academics and make it more vibrant. I hope your Excellency will bring back the Kashmir University on right track.
Shah Khalid is a Srinagar based freelance Journalist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org