Undergraduate colleges in West Bengal will not introduce any new subject or increase the number of seats in its existing courses this academic session despite rise in students’ demands due to the pandemic.
Calcutta University which has nearly 140 colleges under its umbrella, other such affiliating universities and the state higher education council said no clearance has been given to any college this time for increasing seats or opening new courses.
The permission to start a new course or to increase seats in an undergraduate college is granted by any university or the council after series of inspections of the college campuses and examining whether the institution seeking the permission has the required facilities like, sufficient classrooms, laboratories, collection of book in the subject in its library and adequate number of teachers to cope with more students after increase of seats or opening a new subject.
Mamata Ray, vice-chairman (Academic) West Bengal State Council of Higher Education said it is a must for all colleges to seek the permission of the council for starting a new course. But the council has not received any application this time.
“All colleges are closed and so it was not possible to conduct inspections of the campuses. Therefore no college will open any new courses this time,” Ray told EducationWorld.
A senior official of Calcutta University said the university would receive applications from around 30 colleges in previous years seeking permission to increase seats in some subjects which are more in demand among students. The number of applications is far less this time, he said. But the university was unable to conduct the inspections even in those few colleges because of the pandemic.
The Don Bosco College, Park Circus in Kolkata is the only college that will start new courses this year. But the inspections of the college were held much before, in the beginning of last year, the official of Calcutta University said.
The demands among students for seats in some subjects are likely to be more this time because of the rise in the pass percentage and increase in the number of students with 60 per cent above marks in the Bengal Higher Secondary (Class XII) board examinations. The demands for seats are also expected to be high because a larger number of students scored 90 per cent and more marks in the ISC examination.
Some colleges said they had a plan to start a new course this time but they did not apply to the council in view of the pandemic.
Shiuli Sarkar, principal of Lady Brabourne College, affiliated with Calcutta University said “We had a plan to introduce the commerce stream. The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) had advised us that we should also have commerce streams along with arts and science. But we have kept our plan on hold and did not submit our application to the higher education council because of the pandemic situation.”
Rumpa Das, principal of Maheshtala College in the southern fringe of Kolkata, which is also affiliated with Calcutta University said her institution had submitted an application to the university around six months ago seeking permission to increase seats in some subjects like education and political science honours.
“The university has not responded to our appeal till date. Our college mainly caters to girl students coming from lower income group families and there is a demand among them to study these subjects. We are hopeful that we will be allowed to increase the seats next year,” said Das.
Jaydeep Sarangi, principal of New Alipore College under Calcutta University said following a demand from local students his college had planned to start a new course in geography. But they decided not to apply to the council this time as it won’t be possible to keep the college campus open for completing the formalities.
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