BHUBANESWAR: Contrary to the Ministry of Education’s directive to public universities on limiting affiliation of colleges, universities in the state seem to be getting bigger by each passing academic year so far as affiliation is concerned.
As colleges continue to mushroom across the state, universities are expanding their territories to accommodate them. The ministry’s second phase of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA 2.0) stipulates that the number of colleges to be affiliated by any university should now be limited to 100.
However, an audit of the Higher Education department carried out by Accountant General (Audit-l) last month has pointed to inadequate affiliation reforms under RUSA by state-run universities.
The audit, through its own arrangement, checked the records of Utkal university and found out that the total number of affiliated colleges under the university has shown an increasing trend from 2017-23 instead of declining. According to the audit, 447 colleges - both general and professional - were affiliated to Utkal university as of March 2023 which was four times of what RUSA 2.0 target stipulated. Of this, only five permanently affiliated colleges were inspected by the university in the last three academic years (three colleges in 2022-23, two in 2021-22 and zero in 2020-21). None of the colleges were disaffiliated during the period.
Launched in 2013, RUSA mandates every state to prepare a road map on higher education which includes formulation of a scientific policy on affiliation. It further stipulates that an effective monitoring of colleges by the affiliating university should be put in place and a college not fulfilling the standards of teaching-learning and governance should be disaffiliated.
However, the audit noticed that no specific policy on college affiliation has been formulated yet by Higher Education department. Despite repeated reminders by the audit team, the department reportedly could not produce any data on the number of colleges each of the public universities have affiliated till the current academic year and year-wise information on affiliation.
The audit added that the affiliation of huge number of colleges has imposed heavy work burden on the university which adversely affected the quality of education and research. It also blamed the department for not monitoring the number of colleges being affiliated by other universities every year.
Meanwhile, a Higher Education department official said the state government has already started the process of creating new universities with smaller sets of colleges to reduce the college burden on the existing ones. Some of them are Kalahandi, Rajendra, Vikram Deb and Dharanidhar universities.
“However, one has to understand that creating a new university means an additional financial load of Rs 50 crore to rs 60 crore and an academic overhaul. This does not happen overnight but there has been a start to bring down the number of affiliated colleges per university to at least 150,” he said.