One More University

West Bengal is going to have on more university, in addition to the 26 universities the State already has. This has been announced by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The latest one will be at Mongpu which is associated with the memory of Tagore. There are so many universities in the State but what about the standard of education? Most universities lack necessary infrastructure. There are universities with inadequate teaching staff, inadequate laboratory and library facilities and not often with teachers who are more interested in subjects and activities other than education. Many teachers do not have requisite qualifications also. There are any number of private engineering colleges which do not have either a good laboratory or a well-equipped workshop. They charge the students exorbitantly but after obtaining their degree, most students find themselves unemployable. They have a right to know why the money they spent on their education could not make them employable.
In any institute of higher learning, a well-equipped laboratory and a well-stocked library are a must. But in many universities there are not enough books essential to the subjects taught.  In technical colleges and universities, libraries often do not meet the requirement of the students. Latest issues of technical journals are not available. To make matters worse, different universities follow different curricula. They have different syllabi, different textbooks on the same subject. Education is not standardized.  To add to the students’ – and their parents’ – problem, education, especially higher education, is becoming prohibitively costly. The result is that only those coming from affluent families get the chance of acquiring higher education. There are exceptions but the exceptions prove the generality of the rule.
Starting new universities does not necessarily raise the standard of education. A university worth the name is one which imparts quality teaching by quality teachers. In West Bengal, there is a visible political urge for establishing universities and inaugurating their opening with great fanfare. This is more showmanship rather than substance. Neither the Chief Minister nor the ruling party takes interest in the day-to-day functioning of the universities. Why vice-chancellors of universities resign or are forced to resign so frequently? Why charges of nepotism are frequently levelled against them?  Why the teacher-student relationship is far from ideal?  . Once upon a time, students from other States used to come to Calcutta for higher studies. These days, meritorious and serious students often seek admission universities outside the State. They complain that the climate in West Bengal is not conducive to serious studies. These are the problems that need to be addressed urgently.

Wednesday, 30 May, 2018