Just a few decades ago, there were only seven government universities in Karnataka. Today, we have 30. The number of universities across the state and in Bengaluru is on the rise leaving no doubt that Karnataka is now an education hub. One that offers something for every student.
Take for example the Karnataka Folklore University which started in Haveri district a year-and-a-half back. An institution like this does not exist anywhere else. The diversity it offers, in terms of language and communities makes it an attractive proposition for students from all across the world.
North Karnataka has some long-standing private institutes which have very good standards. The Karnataka Lingayata Education Society, for example, runs institutes which have definitely helped push Karnataka to the top, in terms of numbers and to some extent the quality of education.
But it is these numbers which are also creating issues of quality. I believe that only 10 per cent of government and private universities in the state offer quality education. The problem with most private colleges is that for them, the focus is on commercial development through donations. These institutions start several courses based on demand so that they can make money. Most often, staff employed at these colleges are not up to the mark as well.
For students too, getting a degree certificate has become the primary goal. Students from other countries, which do not have many options, come here to study. They return with a certificate but not an education. Keeping their goals in mind, private universities encourage this and take their money. While options to study are plenty in the state, I believe the quality has reduced.
Also with commercialisation comes the problem of affordability. Students from economically weaker families have no resort but to rely on government universities, which come with their own set of problems like sufficient funds or quality of teachers. Sixty per cent of sanctioned seats are vacant in government universities and low-quality guest lecturers are brought in to teach a few hours every week. The much-respected (and feared) college professor, always available to help or admonish, is simply not present anymore, with part-time lecturers filling the gap. A higher educational institute cannot survive on guest lecturers alone.
We need to strengthen the implementation of laws and make following a certain standard mandatory. Previously, Maharaja’s College, Central College, and others were incomparable but today they are nowhere because of vacant faculty posts. If Karnataka wants to regain its glory of being an education hub, it must address its quality. For this, we need people who are genuinely passionate to maintain standards in the interest of the students’ future.