The recent Cabinet decision to start one new course each in all the aided Arts and Science colleges in the State this year is expected to further widen the disparity in the number of courses available for students in the northern district in comparison to what is available for students in the southern districts.

The decision to start one course each in all the 151 aided colleges in the State was taken by the Cabinet last week based on a report submitted by a subcommittee appointed by the government to look into the matter.

The subcommittee, according to sources, had received more than 300 applications from different parts of the State as each college had made its claim for more than one courses at a time.

According to the records available with the State Department of Collegiate of Education, only 41 out of the total 151 aided arts and science colleges in the State are located in the Malabar region.

If the present decision of the government to sanction one new course each in every college is implemented, that will only help to further broaden the regional imbalance in the number of available seats for higher education.

Even if the government wanted to retain the existing ratio of disparity, a minimum of three courses will have to be given to the colleges in the Malabar region when a single seat is sanctioned to the colleges in Thiruvananthapuram-Kochi region, says Z.A. Asharaf, a lecturer and analyst.

Sanctioning fresh courses to the government colleges according to him, however, would not worsen the situation since the number of government colleges in the two regions is more or less the same. “Sanctioning courses to the government and aided colleges brings only almost the same economic liability to the government,” says Dr. Asharaf.

The disparity between the regions in the available number of courses for higher education, according to him, becomes further manifest when the number of students, who become eligible each year for higher education from these two regions is compared.

For example, if the Cabinet decision is to be implemented, Kottayam, where 17,948 students had become eligible for higher education this year will get as many as 21 more new courses whereas Malappuram with 36,579 students eligible for higher education will get only 11 new courses.

According to observers, instead of giving one course each to every aided college, the government should at least make an effort to understand the real requirement of higher education seats in different parts of the State. “Sanctioning courses based on the requirement of each district make sense, however the present decision doesn’t,” says Dr. Asharaf.

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