The 14th All India Conference of Students Federation of India (SFI), to be held here, will focus on issues like commercialisation of higher education, foreign universities bill and university campuses becoming undemocratic spaces, said J. Rajmohan, SFI State secretary.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Rajmohan said that the SFI conference, to be held for the first time in Madurai between September 4 and 7, would focus on various contemporary issues affecting education in India.

The Union Government was taking efforts to dissolve the University Grants Commission, Medical Council of India, All India Council for Technical Education and other councils with a single regulator. This would be inimical to the interests of the weaker sections of the society as it would accelerate commercialisation and privatisation of education.

Despite India being the largest democracy , the university campuses, in recent times, have become undemocratic due to political bias and faulty administration . Citing the case of Madurai Kamaraj University, Mr. Rajmohan said that only a democratic set up could provide the much needed conducive atmosphere, where research and education would thrive. “The MKU state of affairs is a bigger social problem. We will seek a greater public support and fight against undemocratic practices,” he said.

Various competitions in connection with the national conference are already under way at various places in the city. A mini marathon would be held here on Sunday. It would focus on drug abuse. The conference would also focus on the main issue affecting the students in Tamil Nadu – alcoholism. With the mushrooming of government-owned liquor shops in the recent past, students, mostly school goers, had turned alcoholics, said Stalin, State vice-president.

Veteran Marxist leaders like N. Sankaraiah, P. K. Biju and Sitaram Yechury will address a public meeting in Madurai. Economist C. P. Chandrasekhar will participate in a seminar during the four-day conference.