BHUBANESWAR: disha’s higher education sector had an equal share of new beginnings and agitations this year. While many colleges and universities got their accreditation renewed from National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), seats in several colleges remained vacant with students opting for professional courses. One of the major issues - teacher vacancies - could not be addressed completely.
In October, agitations and violence marred this year’s students’ union election. In fact, BJB Autonomous College faced sine die closure twice this year owing to campus violence.
Eight Model Colleges began functioning in the educationally-backward districts of Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Boudh, Deogarh, Nuapada, Sonepur and Nayagarh and State Government began spadework for setting up Odia Virtual University for digitisation of Odia language and its propagation in digital world.
The pass percentage of Plus Two examinations increased in case of Science and Commerce but performance of students, who appeared for Arts examination, came down by over 4 per cent compared to last year. Only 71.55 per cent candidates cleared Arts examination, marking a decrease of 4.76 pc over last year’s 76.31 pc.
Bifurcation and Subsidised
The year began on a high note with Higher Education Department separating junior colleges from degree colleges, a much-awaited initiative that will finally help junior colleges avail D100 crore Central funds every year under Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA). Plus Two came under the purview of School and Mass Education Department and its old syllabus was replaced with a new one designed on the lines of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) pattern. As per the new syllabus, 70 per cent of questions will be of objective and 30 per cent subjective type. The proposal of conducting first year examination for Plus Two students was postponed. In June, Government announced education loan benefit for financially poor students aspiring to pursue professional and technical education under subsidised loan scheme, Kalinga Sikshya Sathi Yojana (KSSY). They can now avail study loan up to D10 lakh at 1 per cent interest rate under KSSY, which was a part of BJD’s election manifesto before the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
New courses and infrastructure needs
The Higher Education Department’s focus was on skill development. It started offering various teachers’ training courses in eight universities and 17 Government colleges. The courses include Bachelor of Education (BEd), BA-BEd, BSc-BEd, Master of Education (MEd) and Integrated BEd and MEd. Aiming at skill development of students, the Council of Higher Secondary Education introduced 12 vocational courses in Plus Two and Plus Three. In fact, vocational subjects were made electives for Plus Two and Plus Three from 2015-16 academic session. Even a year after Rama Devi Women’s College was upgraded to University, land for its extension campus could not be identified. On the other hand, work on Khallikote Cluster University campus was started after land was identified at Palur hills on the outskirts of Berhampur city. Both Rama Devi University and Khallikote University were upgraded in May 2015. Utkal University saw massive infrastructure boost. New hostels were inaugurated and the campus was spruced up with various facilities for students. The permanent campus of National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) in Jatni near Bhubaneswar, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February.
NAAC Boost for Institutions
Many popular educational institutions of the State finally got re-accreditation from NAAC, an assessment body of the University Grants Commission. As many as 30 educational institutions, including Utkal University, BJB Autonomous College and National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Rourkela have received their NAAC grades that had expired several years back. Utkal University topped the list with an A+ grade by securing 3.53 CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average). It may be noted that NAAC accreditation for Utkal had expired in 2009. A NAAC team, led by former vice-chancellor of Bharatidasan University C Thangamuthu, had visited the university from November 17 to 19 and carried out the assessment. NIT-Rourkela received A grade with 3.12 CGPA. BJB Autonomous College got A grade with 3.19 CGPA and city-based Rajdhani College also received A grade with 3.01 CGPA.
Vacancies and Violence
More than 400 posts of teacher and 1100 non-teacher posts remained vacant in universities this year. As per reports, 72 posts of professor, 133 associate professor and 188 assistant professor have not been filled up in Utkal, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Ravenshaw, Fakir Mohan, North Odisha and Sri Jagannath Sanskrit Universities. The universities have sanctioned strength of 2477 non-teaching staff, but 1105 posts are vacant. Violence was witnessed in many institutions during the students elections. Apart from BJB College, the election was cancelled in nine colleges of city including Ekamra College, Basic Science College, City Women’s College, besides Simulia College in Balasore, Nimapara College in Nimapara, Angul Govt Autonomous College, Sadhu Goudeswar College in Jajpur, Upendranath College and Gopalpur College in Soro.