Maha state universities to soon offer undergraduate courses to increase campus enrolment

MUMBAI: Campuses of state universities, which are primarily known for their postgraduate (PG) education, will soon start offering a plethora of undergraduate (UG) courses. Currently, UG courses are mainly offered at affiliated colleges of state universities.
With university campuses recording poor enrolment across PG courses in their departments, the Maharashtra government is pushing all state universities to add more UG programmes. This is also in line with the University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for National Education Policy (NEP) which expects universities to offer multi-disciplinary education from UG to PhD. Some of the universities have less than 5,000 students enrolled in their departments, which in some cases is not even half the enrolment at larger individual colleges. It is likely to decline further once affiliated colleges start offering four-year UG programmes, along with one-year PG, in full swing, say officials.
Starting four-year UG programmes in university departments will also improve enrolment in PG courses. In some courses across state universities seats are going vacant. On the contrary, colleges that have started innovative UG and PG programmes are seeing an uptick in enrolment. Colleges are assessed by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council and are ranked by National Institutional Ranking Framework based on enrolment in university departments and not the performance of affiliated colleges.
“The universities are autonomous, and the state cannot interfere in their academic activities. But the state has advised them to start offering more UG programmes, increase enrolment and make optimum use of resources. Currently, enrolment at some of the universities’ PG departments is less than 3,000-4,000, lower than some of the larger colleges,” said a government official. The official said running UG programmes on own campuses will also help universities get a direct stake in UG syllabus formation committees, currently dominated by teachers from affiliated colleges.
A senior official from one of the universities said, “There is also a fear that once more colleges start offering PG programmes under NEP, which they are expected to, students will want to continue in the same college and not enrol in universities’ departments. If universities get students with higher CGPA in the four-year UG, they can directly take admission in PhD. So, the idea is to offer them an integrated package from UG to PhD. It may take time for some universities, as it will require developing physical infrastructure.”
Currenly only autonomous colleges have started NEP. Data from individual universities shows Mumbai University currently has the highest PG enrolment. Vice-chancellor Ravindra Kulkarni said they are working on offering more five-year integrated programmes with multiple entry and exit options in emerging interdisciplinary areas. “We already have a few UG programmes on campus which are designed on the lines of NEP and we plan to add a few courses from 2024-25,” said Kulkarni.
Shivaji University vice-chancellor D T Shirke said they started planning UG programmes during NEP implementation. “We were the first to have a BA in sports and a BSc and MSc integrated programme in economics. We plan to start BA, BCom too. In the long run, when colleges start de-affiliating from universities and become independent degree-awarding entities, universities too need to be self-sustainable in terms of enrolment,” he said.

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