Despite educational institutions reopening in a full-fledged manner from this year after two pandemic-hit years, government degree colleges are seeing no relief.
According to a recent report by the Department of Collegiate Education, as many as 171 colleges have got fewer than 100 students. These colleges have got only 8,136 students against a potential 1.18 lakh intake. Most of the colleges have got less than 50% of enrolment this year.
There are 430 Government First Grade Colleges (GFGC) in the State with an intake capacity of 2.35 lakh students, including 1.27 Arts, 74,680 Commerce and Management, and 33,672 Science streams.
Three colleges — Government Sanskrit College, Melukote, Mandya district; GFGC Evening College, Mangaluru; and SSA Government First Grade Evening College, Ballari — have got only one student each against a total potential intake of 740.
With a total intake of of 800, GFGC at Thenkanidiyur, Mangalore University, has got only two students. The number of students who have enrolled in 15 government degree colleges of different universities in the State is in single digit.
September 30 is the last date for admissions in degree colleges. According to C.N. Ashwath Narayan, Minister of Higher Education, as of now, a total of 1.02 lakh students have got admitted.
Fingers pointed at NEP
The dip in admissions is being attributed to problems in implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), confusion in selection of subjects, lack of clarity about the eligibility of the degree certificates and financial crunch due to the pandemic.
Karnataka is the first State to implement NEP in higher education. However, there are allegations about faulty implementation leading to the fall in admissions.
As part of the NEP, the Department of Collegiate Education has made online admission mandatory for all students through the Unified University and College Management System (UUCMS) portal. UUCMS, an integrated university and college management system, has computerised the functioning of higher education institutions. All phases of learning — from student registration, examinations to graduation — can be handled within this single system.
However, technical glitches were reported in the system during the initial stage, due to which students failed to submit applications on the portal.
On the other hand, private degree colleges called for applications and admitted students in the offline mode, and updated the students’ admissions details in the UUCMS portal. Government colleges continued the admission process online despite the technical problems. “This negligence has led the students towards private colleges,” one assistant professor at a GFGC alleged.
They also alleged that the technical problems of the UUCMS have continued, with college staff struggling to update the students’ information on the portal, students struggling to pay the examination fee online and the faculties finding it difficult to update the students’ attendance.
NEP has given complete liberty to students to select their desired subjects. In addition, degree students will have to study two major subjects and one elective, which can be any subject.
However, government colleges have denied this liberty. Due to a decrease in admission for some subjects, faculty members are allegedly pressurizing students to opt for other subjects. Due to lack of teaching faculty in certain subjects, colleges have also failed to offer students the desired non-core subjects too.
In addition to this, the NEP also offers multiple entry and exit options and four-year degree programmes. The department will give certificate for first year degree, diploma certificate for second year and degree for third year and honours degree for those who complete the fourth year.
However, the government is yet to clarify through a notification whether the three-year degree certificate is enough to write the various competitive examinations on the basis of degree qualification or not.
“There is also no clarification from the government about whether the three-year degree certificate is enough to enter the B.Ed courses or four-year honours degree is required. All this confusion has weaned students away from degree education,” another faculty member of a college said.
Into job market
Further, due to the pandemic, that resulted in a financial crunch for many, making higher education unaffordable, forcing many to take up blue collar jobs instead of pursuing a degree, pointed out other academics.
In recent years, the average II PU pass percentage has been 60% and around 4.2 lakh students pass out, becoming eligible for higher education. Among these, around 1.3 lakh students opt for technical courses. The government has sanctioned a total intake of 2.35 lakh for the GFGCs, but regular admission is around 1.2 lakh only. Around 50,000 students are being enrolled in 321 private degree colleges in the State.
With three lakh students entering higher education in the State, around 1.2 lakh do not appear to be entering higher education. Educationists are demanding the government to bring back these missing students.