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NEW UNIVERSITIES IN PUNJAB FACE CHALLENGE OF RELEVANCE ?

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New universities are coming into existence in Punjab at a time when lots of interesting things are happening in higher education scenario.
The process of liberalization and privatization of university system is almost complete and the process of globalization has just started
with the introduction of semester system and choice based credit system at under graduate level.

The country has seen quantum jump in the number of professional colleges and also in the seats of various professional courses. But
this jump has produced new problems. While pre-liberalisation scenario was facing the problems of shortage of seats and unemployment of
graduates, current scenario is a bit different. Today engineering colleges are producing engineers whose staggering majority (more than
80%) is not fit for employment. Irony is that employment is there, but the people with engineering degree are not simply employable. The
case with Indian MBA is not different either.

Apart from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Management), courses like Education have remained among the major professional
courses in India. It is also suffering from under- enrollment and un-employability. The Punjab education colleges are producing such
B.Ed graduates whose staggering majority (estimated 92%) fails to clear TET/ CTET, rendering themselves unfit for employment even after
securing a professional degree. As a result there’s under enrollment in education colleges.

SEATS AND COURSES GOES ABEGGING IN STATE COLEGES, UNVERSITIES

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According to the Federation of Self Financed Colleges of Education, out of total 22,000 seats, 10,000 seats were lying vacant in Punjab
education colleges in October 2019.

This vast army of unemployable graduates is a recipe for social disaster. Their case is worse than the unemployed. The unemployment
brings frustration, yet hope stays, but un-employability is the death of hope. Worse thing is these unemployables have earned their degrees from post-liberalisation colleges, paying hefty fee and losing savings of their parents.

Last few years have seen rise of numerous new universities in Punjab. In this case, the problem of under enrollment and un- employability is going to stay.
Now, this is the world of higher education Laissez Faire in which all new universities of Punjab have to work.

The challenge before them is to know what they are needed for in the first place ? What is the need and relevance of a new university in
the state? What is it going to produce, something other universities are not producing? A university is more than a dispenser of degrees. A university is there to teach and train simple undergraduates/graduates for the roles, a society, state and market requires them to perform to run its business.

NEED TO EXPLORE NEW AVENUES IN EDUCATION

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What kind of roles a society and market forces want the Universities to perform to run the system, to conserve it and for its evolution?

These are many and fill a whole lot of work of world. To name a few; Water economist experts, expert of supply chain management, transport management, Food Processing and Food technology experts, National Security and defense strategists, forensic science experts , expert of international affairs, expert in gender sensitization, expert analyst of elections and voting and expert analyst of political parties.

The other roles could be expert analyst of organized crime, manager of contemporary archives, expert analyst of folk religion practices,
expert analyst of local self government systems, expert of effluent treatment system solutions, expert of planning and projection of city traffic systems, expert of planning and projection of city waste management, expert of planning of urban water supply for next 20
years, expert of VC and Angel investment systems, expert analyst of start-ups, Planner of CSR funds, writer, film maker and for banking
industry.

The new avenues could also be explored for Financial analyst, Traders and merchants, Newspaper editor, Computer programmer, software
developer, legal expert, architect, town planner, landscapist, botanist, veterinarian, expert of built environment, sports therapist,
psychiatrist, special educator, revenue record expert, knowledge management expert, builder of bridges, roads, drainage system, (the
word civil engineer is too faceless), Doctor of Plants and the list goes on ..

While talking about courses, these are always there in one or other form. The challenge is the outcome of such courses, focus is not on
the course but on the doer of the course, hence the use of word ‘expert’. The questions is not how many graduates, post graduates or
Phds a university will produce. The question is how many experts it will produce, who will produce solutions for the creation of a better society and a better state to live in.

Current UGC regulations in higher education focus more on the research output of professors and do little to assess their output in terms of students employment. A professor’s essential role must be to get employment opportunities for students, whereas they are being rewarded
for their self-development. Ideally, University exists to serve the interest of students, but in practice, its entire focus is on saving the career interest of professors.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


• Dr. Amanpreet Singh Gill teaches Political Science at SGTB Khalsa College, North Campus, Delhi University. Apart from short stories, he writes on Punjab politics and Sikh history. He has authored six books in Punjabi and English. Non-Congress Politics in Punjab (2015), 1708 Dasam Guru di Dakhan Feri (2017) and Kes History of Sikhs and other Essays (2020) are his better known works. He can be reached at: amanpreetdu@gmail.com


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