Mumbai University lets shoddy colleges go unpunished

Musab Qazi

Mumbai: The University of Mumbai (MU) is yet to act against the engineering colleges which failed to meet the norms related to admission, finances, staff and infrastructure in the last two academic years.

Information provided by the university in a recent meeting of the senate, varsity’s top decision-making body, shows that not a single engineering college that failed to meet the norms for 2017-18 and 2018-19 has so far removed its deficiencies. However, except for sending reminder e-mails, MU didn’t take action against these colleges and has continued their affiliation with the varsity. The students and teachers at these colleges suffer due to varsity’s lackadaisical approach, allege educationalists.

For 2017-18 academic year, the varsity had dispatched Local Inquiry Committees (LICs) to inspect 55 engineering colleges, of which only 13 colleges were found to have fulfilled all the norms. Similarly, for 2018-19, only 14 out of 54 colleges inspected by LICs had met the necessary criteria laid down by the varsity.

Download the list of MU engineering colleges with deficiencies

The LICs, each of which consists of three ‘experts’, are responsible for inspecting colleges on a number of criteria, such as student enrolment, teaching hours, fees, teaching resources, land, building and funds. The varsity considers LICs’ reports while extending the affiliation of its colleges.

The 40-odd colleges that had deficiencies each year were directed to overcome their shortcomings. The university did continue their affiliation, but only on a condition that they are to comply with the norms. With none of these colleges sent any compliance report yet, the university has sent e-mails asking them to do so.

The university assured the senate that it will continue to follow-up with the colleges. “The colleges which have not complied will be sent letters,” said Ajay Bhamare, in-charge dean, faculty of commerce and management.

The educationalists are worried that allowing colleges to function despite their lacunae aggregates the problems facing the students and teachers. “The conditions for continuing the affiliation include academic ambiance, regular payment of salary to the staff and compliance with all government ordinances. The non-compliance by colleges is as good as lawlessness. When the university fails to check the issues such as poor service conditions for the staff and excess fees drawn from the students, the government shuts down the institute. The teachers and students are always at the receiving end,” said Chandrashekhar Kulkarni, a professor at Thadomal Shahani Engineering College (TSEC), Bandra and a member of the university senate from Bombay University and College Teachers Union (BUCTU).

Madhavi Pethe, a former principal from the city, said that the students are often unaware of the deficiencies of the colleges to which they seek admission, “There is no way for students to find out if their desired college meets all the norms. Either the university should release the list of colleges which are granted conditional approval or these colleges should make their status of conditional affiliation public,” she said.

The educationalists said that the university should take strict action to deter colleges from ignoring the norms. While Kulkarni said that the university should impose penalties on violation of affiliation conditions, as prescribed uniform statutes for the universities, Pethe suggests that the admissions to the shoddy colleges must be freeze until they fulfill all the norms.

The educationalists also said that the varsity should do away with the practice of granting conditional approval. “It should be ensured that all the norms are met while granting approvals to new colleges. Once the students are admitted, all that’s left to do is to ‘manage’ the situation,” said Pethe.

“The LICs should be sent at the beginning of the academic year and not when the examinations are on, because at that point the university is left with no choice but to grant conditional approval,” adds Kulkarni.

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