Udaipur- The faculty and management of Mohanlal Sukhadia University (MLSU) had been eagerly awaiting a significant event - the upcoming visit from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) after more than seven years. However, their enthusiasm has been abruptly stifled by an unforeseen move from the district administration. The administration has completed procedure and acquired the Arts College building for the purpose of counting election votes, just days before the highly anticipated NAAC visit, scheduled for the first week of November.
The Arts College stands as one of the university's most vital institutions, housing a significant 50 percent of the university's total departments.
All 200 seats will go to polls on November 25 in Rajasthan. The counting of votes will be done on December 3, along with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana. The term of the 200-member Rajasthan assembly ends on January 14.
The practice of taking over educational institutions for election-related activities has been a recurring issue across the state. In Udaipur, this tradition continued with the Arts College being occupied from September 15th until December 3rd. This unfortunate situation has a direct impact on the studies of approximately 3,000 students, disrupting their academic activities for about two and a half months.
For Mohanlal Sukhadia University, this development comes at a time when they've been striving to achieve good grades for the past many years. The visit by the NAAC team, scheduled for the first week of November, now faces an inevitable cancellation. The team won't be able to assess the facilities, resources, and other aspects of the Arts College during this period.
The University's Vice Chancellor Professor Sunita Mishra vehemently oppose the acquisition of the Arts College and has taken her appeal to Governor Kalraj Mishra. She has requested that this acquisition be either withdrawn or scheduled after November 8, keeping in mind the pending NAAC inspection. However, the District Election Officer and Collector, Arvind Poswal, seem to be in a tight spot with limited options available for the acquisition, given the urgency of the election-related tasks. It's essential to note that delays in obtaining NAAC grades could jeopardize various grants, including those under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) , and research work in the university will also suffer.
The Arts College of Mohanlal Sukhadia University typically hosts an average of 3,000 students and researchers annually. This building houses 21 departments within the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, which accounts for a significant 50% of the university's departments.
Among these, several were specialized and unique to the university, including the Jain and Prakrit Department, the Rajasthani Department, and practical subjects such as Visual Arts, Geography, Music, and Journalism-Mass Communication.
Students excel in these departments, and they contribute to the university's stellar reputation. With each student paying an average fee of Rs 10,000 pa, the college contributes a substantial Rs 3 crore to the university's finances each year, which amounts to approximately Rs 25 lakh every month. The college employs 21 teachers and more than 70 staff members, who collectively receive an average monthly salary of Rs 40 lakh. The election process not only disrupts the students' academics but also means that employees will receive Rs 40 lakh without performing their regular duties.
This scenario is not unique to Udaipur but echoes across educational institutions in other universities state wide, including institutions like College and Commerce College at Rajasthan University in Jaipur. Election-related training of personnel is taking place in the buildings of Government Fateh Higher Secondary School and other government schools in Udaipur, mirroring a situation seen in many schools throughout the state.
Professor Mishra emphasize the importance of the upcoming NAAC visit, stating that the acquisition of the Arts College would not only disrupt the central team's assessment but also hinder their ability to evaluate the two faculties housed in this building. This, in turn, could tarnish the university's image and potentially affect its eligibility for future central and state projects.
In response to this situation, Professor Mishra had been diligently corresponding with the state government and had even requested the District Collector to delay the acquisition until after the NAAC visit, suggesting November 8 as an alternative date. Despite these efforts, the district administration proceeded with their decision, jeopardizing the preparations for the visit.
While Professor Mishra acknowledged the importance of the election process, she also stressed the need to preserve the Arts College building. The college had been undergoing beautification work for the past six months, and any modifications for vote counting would not only damage the building and its rooms but also undermine the progress made in beautifying the structure.
The Vice Chancellor made a sincere plea to the administration, highlighting that under the building acquisition provisions, the building could be acquired 15 days before the elections. Conveniently, the NAAC visit was set to conclude on November 8, aligning with this rule. She urged the administration to consider this timeframe, emphasizing that it would be in the best interest of the university and the multitude of students who called it their academic home.
Meanwhile, the Udaipur Collector told the media that the college has already been acquired to facilitate the counting of votes. He further stated that the necessary arrangements for vote counting will be swiftly put in place within a week. Importantly, the college building will be returned to the university after this temporary use, ensuring that the upcoming NAAC visit remains undisturbed and proceeds according to its original schedule.
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is an autonomous government organization in India responsible for assessing and accrediting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). NAAC is funded by the University Grants Commission and has its headquarters located in Bangalore.
NAAC plays a pivotal role in conducting comprehensive assessments of the universities on its list. NAAC sets the benchmark for evaluating whether these institutions meet the requirements of higher education in India. Universities that successfully earn NAAC accreditation receive a quality certificate, which enhances the institution's reputation.
As of June 2023, NAAC had accredited 820 universities and 15,501 colleges in India. The NAAC accreditation serves a function, which is to maintain the quality of education among institutes. Furthermore, NAAC facilitates central and scholarship programs. When the NAAC accreditation is granted, the college celebrates the vote of confidence from other institutes as well as the validity for the next five years.
During these five years, the colleges focus on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and dangers in order to identify new areas for progress. The institutions begin to focus on resource allocation and planning in order to define our paths to growth. Because it is only granted for a limited period and there is always the possibility of losing it or getting higher marks, institutes seek new avenues of success in order to sustain their reputation in the long run.