Published: 20th October 2019
Is Agra University going to the dogs?
The university has witnessed protests or dharnas almost on a daily basis, and suicide attempts have also been made in the past to highlight the state of its non-functioning, but to no avail
When half a dozen student leaders of the Congress youth wing were released after being taken into custody for a black flag demonstration during the Agra University's convocation last week, a question doing the rounds now was whether this 'ancient monolithic institution of higher education', could be saved from going to the dogs.
Vice-Chancellor AK Dixit has insisted that the conditions were much better and the university was on the right track. But, neither academia nor the students agree with Dixit's assessment.
For the past two decades, the control and management of the university have been questioned by lakhs of students. Half a dozen investigations by Special Investigation Teams (SIT) and other agencies against the management, have continued to tarnish the institution's image and create uncertainties.
Founded in 1927, the Agra University has produced illustrious leaders like former Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh, former President Shankar Dayal Sharma, Samajwadi Party supremo and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and a long line of distinguished professionals.
Being a state university, the Centre's intervention might not be possible, but there were ways to handle the situation. A former professor said that Uttar Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel, who is also the varsity's Chancellor, “can be persuaded to monitor its work”.
He also questioned the state government for "not taking appropriate steps to fundamentally restructure this huge institution which is playing with the lives of lakhs of students".
According to the student leaders, the problems were teachers have lost interest in teaching; its dinosaur-like size makes it unmanageable; campus spreads from Noida to Lucknow, with more than 500 affiliated colleges and enrolment of over the seven lakh students; results are never announced on time, examinations are neither fair, nor held within a specific time-frame; availability of fake mark-sheets, malpractices in admissions to various courses including B.Ed have been highlighted on a daily basis by the media, without any result; bogus appointments; no promotion/transfer policy; research standards were poor; facilities for students were non-existent; and the corruption was high.
Retired academics suggested that the state government should seriously consider splitting the university into three different institutes. The university has witnessed protests or dharnas at its gates almost on a daily basis. Suicide attempts have also been made in the past to highlight the state of its non-functioning But there has been no positive indication of any effort being made to bring the university back on track.
“The Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar have no idea how to wriggle out of the crisis. Corruption has infected every administrative department and the list of scams involving officials is becoming longer,” said an agitated student leader.