Central govt-run college offers CUET coaching, has a rethink
A central government-run college has advertised a crash course for the Common University Entrance Test at Rs 12,000 a student, but suggested it might “review the decision” after academics slammed the move as “open commercialisation” and promotion of coaching.
Ramanujan College in Delhi, funded fully by the University Grants Commission, had released a poster saying the crash course, meant only for the commerce stream, would be provided in collaboration with the tax and corporate law agency Taxman. The online programme will be available from 4pm to 8pm every day from June 1 to June 30.
The CUET — the sole avenue for undergraduate admission to central universities from this year — is to be held over the first two weeks of July.
Academics have already expressed fear that the MCQ-based test would prompt students to focus on coaching and rote learning rather than classroom education, and thus favour the rich over the poor.
N. Sukumar, a political science professor with Delhi University, described Ramanujan College’s move as “open commercialisation of education”.
“This is against the ethos of education, which is supposed to be available to all. In a way, this is discrimination against those who have no money (to sign up for coaching),” Sukumar said.
The Telegraph had reported last month that many private schools were collaborating with coaching centres to prepare their students for the CUET at the cost of classroom teaching – a trend sometimes witnessed earlier in connection with entrance tests for professional courses.
Sukumar said State-funded educational institutions cannot stoop to the level of competing with private coaching centres.
He said the government’s National Education Policy asserts that the “coaching culture” is harming school education by “replacing valuable time for true learning with excessive exam coaching and preparation”.
“And yet, the government’s own institution (Ramanujan College) is offering coaching,” Sukumar said.
Abha Dev Habib, a teacher at Miranda House College, said the UGC’s failure to provide enough funds and its constant pressure on colleges to raise their revenues was forcing institutions to start such courses.
“But by this action, the college is being reduced to a coaching institute. It’s doing so to meet its running expenses,” Habib said.
The IITs, which conduct the JEE Advanced for admission to their BTech courses, have since 2017 been offering the IIT-Professor Assisted Learning (IIT-PAL) to prepare students for the entrance exam. The move has not attracted criticism because the programme is free.
S.P. Aggarwal, principal of Ramanujan College, said the idea behind the proposed crash course was to help students.
“Our fee is one-fourth the market fee,” he said. “However, there’s a lot of protest already. We may review this decision.”
Aggarwal said the IITs have enough money, so they can offer free assistance. “The UGC is not giving us (enough) funds,” he said.
The college website says the central government opened the institution in 1958, and that it is funded 100 per cent by the UGC.
According to the college poster, those providing the crash course will include eminent professionals and teachers from reputable colleges and schools. Teaching and tests will be provided on subjects such as English, mathematics, accountancy, business studies and economics.
Over five lakh students countrywide have so far registered for the CUET.