The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More colleges, classes in shifts

New Delhi, July 6: The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration, a government think-tank, has proposed setting up new colleges which will offer high-quality education.

If the proposal materialises, it will bring welcome cheer to a number of Delhi students who have not been able to gain admission in the capital’s premier colleges.

The national institute’s G.D. Sharma asks: “Why can’t there be 20 Hindu Colleges, 20 Lady Shriram Colleges and 5 St Stephens' At present our supply of colleges of this quality is far below the demand.”

The high cut-off percentages in good colleges keeps out a large number of students who get between 60 to 70 per cent in their exams. They have no option but to enter colleges which offer poor-quality education.

Popular courses in economics, English and commerce have an 85 per cent cut-off mark. Even evening colleges are demanding a 70 per cent cut-off point for these courses, the institute says.

There are also a number of students who have the qualifying cut-off marks but do not eventually make it to a handful of the capital’s better colleges.

For instance, Hindu College this year received 25,000 applications for its 350-odd seats, Kirori Mal College 92,000 for 650 seats and Hansraj College 40,000 for 750 seats.

What the think-tank is proposing is greater flexibility in the whole system of instituting colleges.

“The colleges should not have to affiliate themselves to Delhi University. They should be allowed to affiliate to any university in the country,” says Sharma. The institute believes the university system in India has not internally liberalised itself enough to address students’ problems.

What about the budget constraints and lack of resources' “What we propose is a self-financing scheme whereby students can pay more than the fee charged by a Delhi University college,” says Sharma. He also proposes a two- or three-shift system so that more students can be admitted.

Korea has set an example in this direction, Sharma said. When faced with a rush for college admissions, Korea started two to three shifts in their colleges.

“We have to think of new ways of coping with this pressure. We have to think of a student who has no option other than to settle for a less-than-mediocre education because of a lack of supply of good colleges,” says Sharma.

But Delhi University teachers are not convinced. M.M.P. Singh, three-time president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, says: “Delhi University teachers are not ready for this.”

He points to the complexities of the proposal suggested by the institute. “We will have to change the Delhi University Act and it will have to be endorsed by Parliament,” says Singh. He adds that a workload has to be worked out for teachers, a syllabus put in place and a suitable recruitment policy for teachers set up.

“We also must be careful not to repeat the experience of Indraprastha University in east Delhi,” the former teachers’ association president said. Indraprastha University has 50 colleges under its umbrella, which offer courses in business management, engineering, law and media along with other subjects. “They charge a huge fee of Rs 65,000 a year but offer sub-standard education,” Singh said.

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