Lakshadweep scrapping Calicut University courses: Dipping numbers suggest they weren't wrong, but was it the right call?

A couple of weeks ago, Calicut University's centres in the island scrapping their master's courses and BA Arabic and BA Political Science courses had caused a lot of hue and cry
Calicut University (Pic: Twitter)
Calicut University (Pic: Twitter)

It has been close to nine months since Praful Khoda Patel took charge as the administrator of Lakshadweep. In that short time, the island has seen a number of changes in every sector, including education.

For instance, Calicut University's centres in the island scrapping its master's courses and BA Arabic and BA Political Science courses had caused a lot of hue and cry. While the university says that it never took this decision, but simply acceded to what the island's administration had requested, its syndicate members have written letters to authorities, seeking to restore these courses. "This decision, which is nothing short of a denial of higher education opportunities to people belonging to Scheduled Tribes, will have devastating consequences upon the educational future of the Lakshadweep people," a Calicut University syndicate member called Rasheed Ahammed P said in his letter to Patel.

However, can the decision made by the Patel-led administration be justified? According to a statement by Calicut University, the administration had asked them in a meeting held on July 12 to scrap these courses, citing low enrolment. This appears to be true, according to the data that the university had shared with EdexLive. In the academic year 2020-22, no student enrolled to study MA Arabic. In the previous academic year, one student was enrolled and he did not pass the subjects. The master's course with the maximum enrolment was MA English, where nine students were enrolled. While 11 students enrolled to study MCom in 2019, the number dropped to seven in 2020.

A faculty member who teaches Commerce at a Calicut University centre in Lakshadweep supports the data. "We have been seeing a drop in the number of students who enrol to study master's degrees in these centres over the past few years. So, during the meeting that was held on July 12, we requested that they scrap the master's courses and instead grant us more bachelor's degree courses. In the commerce department, we had asked to let us start BBA and BA Travel and Tourism courses," he said. "It is better for the students to go to the mainland and study these courses, as it gives them more exposure," he says, adding that the administrator cannot be criticised for all the actions that he has taken until now.

At the same time, the professor criticised scrapping the BA Political Science course and said that it had attracted a sizeable population of students every year. "Recently, we also heard about Pondicherry University starting its study centre here and about a deal with a university in Gujarat to start a few courses in Lakshadweep. The word on the street is that the administration is cutting all ties with Kerala," he says.

The decision to scrap all master's courses also caused a lot of hue and cry among the student political organisations across the country, especially in Kerala. The SFI, the CPM's student wing had registered its protest and Balussery MLA Sachin Dev, who is also the SFI Kerala Secretary had organised a protest meeting against this recently.

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