Published: 20th July 2017
Telangana sees a drop in the number of enrollments in research courses
The graph of the number of research course enrollments is going down gradually since 2012
Over the last five years, enrollments into research courses have declined by a little less 1000 in the universities across Telangana, the recently released All India Survey in Higher Education Report for 2015-16, said.
Though 2012-13 saw the highest enrollment into PhD with 4,743 students, it has declined since then. In 2015-16 only 4,133 students had enrolled as compared to 2014-15 when the number rose to 4,596 as against the period 2013-14 when it was just 4,285. The year 2014-15 was the only year when the numbers went up in this five-year period.
The academic scholars and experts, though, see this as a crisis in higher education, state higher education officials claim seem to derive solace from the fact that enrollment of marginalised communities in research has improved.
The academic scholars and experts, though, see this as a crisis in higher education, state higher education officials claim seem to derive solace from the fact that enrollment of marginalised communities in research has improved
"Over the last few years, the overall enrollment rate for SC ST and OBC in Junior Research Fellowship (JNF) has increased in the state," Prof T Papi Reddy, chairman of Telangana State Council for Higher Education. According to the AISHE Report, the enrollment ratio has spiraled from 89,524 in 2012-13 to 1,07,631 in 2015-16.
The chairman told Express that the low enrollment is to be attributed to the lack of facilities and supervisors in the state universities. "Of all the State Universities Osmania University and Kakatiya University have the required infrastructure. Universities like Palamuru University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Satavahana University and Telangana University lag behind. The nature of the policies is also such that it makes recruitment process is time-consuming. While senior teachers have retired, the recruitment has not yet happened so there is a gap in the number of faculty too."
Of all the State Universities Osmania University and Kakatiya University have the required infrastructure. Universities like Palamuru University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Satavahana University and Telangana University lag behind
Professor T Papi Reddy, Chairman, Telangana State Council for Higher Education
Prof Laxmi Narayana an educationist agrees that absence of teaching staff does impact the quality of education. “There are over 2,000 vacancies in the universities and nearly 3000-4000 in colleges across the state. These institutions function on the recruiting contractual or guest faculty who can not guide students,” he said.
It may be noted that 441 assistant professors, who are working full-time and another 100 part-timers, all on contract basis in the Osmania University have been protesting on the campus demanding regularisation of their services. Even after a fortnight of continuous dharna, their pleas have failed to evoke any response from the Government.
'Crisis in higher education'
According to the AISHE Report while nearly 79.3 per cent of the students are enrolled in undergraduate level programmes, only 1,26,451 students have enrolled in Ph.D pan India. This translated to a lowly 0.4 per cent of the total.
According to the AISHE Report while nearly 79.3 per cent of the students are enrolled in undergraduate level programmes, only 1,26,451 students have enrolled in PhD pan India. This translated to a lowly 0.4 per cent of the total
What makes Telangana peculiar when its comes to higher education is that it has the highest college density in the country at 60, which exceed the national average of a mere 28 by more than double. And yet these numbers fails to translated into students that take up research. In 2015, 723 students got their doctorate degrees in the state, of these 498 were male and 234 women.
Kalpana Kannabiran, director of Council for Social Development feels the number is abysmal given the size of the country. “Higher education is in crisis because there is no critical mass of students. This implies that the universities do not have enough students who will push the bar of higher education. This also means that you don’t have choice – because the faculty will also be sourced from this minuscule population,” she says.
Low pay and no appreciation
In addition to the low quality of education imparted in varsities that culminate into an inferior quality of researchers, Prof Vineet Gandhi from IIIT Hyderabad feels that society’s apathy towards research also acts as a deterrent for some. “Research is not motivated enough in our country. Rather than strengthening core research, we believe in mind importing technology,” said the 30-year-old assistant professor.
The long duration and the paltry stipend that research scholars receive is often yet another reason that makes students look for employment opportunities.
”Most students in Telangana universities are from poor families who would rather earn and support their family than research,” said Prof Narayana.
Worst yet to come?
The student community has been up in arms against the University Grants Commission tweaking its norms for admission into PhD, on grounds seat cuts will impact both quality of research done and researchers produced. As Kannabiran says,”The changes in the UGC policy and the way the government is holding the higher education, it is the last nail in the coffin. They have cut the ground under the feet that was not yet robust.”