Dhanamanjuri University - by abolishing the DM Colleges ?
- From the perspective of RUSA -
- Part 1 -

Kumam Anthony Singh *

DM College in the heart of Imphal city as seen on February 19 2015
DM College in the heart of Imphal city as seen on February 19 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

During the last 4 / 5 days, I came across some local english and manipuri dailies publishing the press release of AMGOCTA (All Manipur Government College Teachers' Association) regarding the Dhanamanjuri University Bill, 2014 which is going to be introduced again in the ensuing budget session of Manipur Legislative Assembly.

Here, AMGOCTA made a fervent and emotional appeal against abolition of DM Colleges while creating the Dhanamanjuri University. The teachers of the sister DM colleges seem to be apprehensive about the possibility of the DM Colleges being abolished because there is no mention of the concerned colleges as constituent colleges of the proposed university anywhere in the Dhanamanjuri University Bill, 2014 (which was withdrawn from the last assembly session). The association also pointed out that the proposed bill is a total departure from the provisions of RUSA. A representation in this regard has also been submitted to the State Education Minister. This particular news item instantly caught my attention and curiosity. While being hopeful, positive and optimistic about a new state university coming up, I was taken by surprise by certain points made by AMGOCTA. Some questions that came up immediately are (i) Are the sister DM Colleges, instead of being made the constituent colleges of the proposed Dhanamanjuri University, actually going to be abolished?

If so, is it indeed necessary? (ii) Can the state government afford to create a new state cluster university not in conformity with the guidelines of RUSA and still manage to get funds under RUSA? These questions will surely strike anyone who has a fair knowledge and understanding about RUSA and the ambitious projects being undertaken by the state government under RUSA.

Because, as far as my knowledge and understanding is concerned, the proposed Dhanamanjuri University is essentially a Cluster University to be created with the funding assistance from RUSA.

What is RUSA?

RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) is a centrally sponsored scheme initiated by the central government in the later part of 2013 for funding the state universities and colleges to achieve equity, access and excellence in higher education. The scheme which would be spread over the 12th and 13th plan periods, will be implemented through the Ministry of Humam Resource Development (MHRD).

The allocation of funds under RUSA would be based on well-defined norms and linked to certain key academic, administrative and governance reforms in the state higher education system. The centre-state funding pattern would be in the ratio of 90:10 for the NE states, Sikkim, J & K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and 65:35 for other states and UTs.

For the states to be eligible for funding under RUSA, there are certain pre-requisites which includes among many others the willingness of the states to participate in the RUSA scheme and then to constitute first a state higher education council (SHEC) for planning and evaluation.

The SHEC will have to prepare a state higher education plan (SHEP) on an annual basis, addressing the state's strategy to address issues of equity, access and excellence in higher education, taking into consideration the various factors under the eighteen components (Listed below) and submit it to MHRD for approval and funding under RUSA. In short, states may seek funds from RUSA under any one or some or all of the eighteen components.

The Various Components under RUSA

1. Creation of Universities by way of upgradation of existing Autonomous Colleges

2. Creation of Universities by conversion of colleges in a cluster

3. Infrastructure Grants to Universities

4. New Model Colleges (General)

5. Upgradation of existing Degree Colleges to Model Degree Colleges

6. New Colleges (Professional)

7. Infrastructure Grants to Colleges

8. Research, Innovation and quality improvement

9. Equity Initiatives

10. Faculty Recruitment Support

11. Faculty Improvement

12. Vocationalisation of Higher Education

13. Leadership Development of Educational Administrators

14. Institutional Restructuring and Reforms

15. Capacity Building and Preparation, Data Collection and Planning

16. Management Information System

17. Support to Polytechnics

18. Management Monitoring Evaluation and Research (MMER)

But each component has got its own set of pre-requisites/pre-conditions in order for a state plan to be eligible for funding under it and commitments to adhere to in the future for subsequent differential release of funds in instalments. In fact, funds under RUSA are norm-based and performance-based. And to that extent funds under RUSA are not easy.

The proposed Dhanamanjuri University is indeed a cluster university proposed under the component no. 2. Creation of Universities by conversion of colleges in a cluster, of RUSA, in the SHEP submitted by SHEC of our state (along with other proposals under component nos 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18). Under the component no. 2, the state of Manipur in its SHEP proposed the setting up of a university namely DM University as a new state university by clustering DM College of Science, Imphal as Lead College and 04 Cluster Colleges namely, DM College of Arts, Imphal; DM College of Commerce, Imphal; LMS Law College and GP Women's College.

And, the PAB (Project Approval Board) of RUSA approved the same in its 3rd meeting held on the 13th May, 2014, with an approved fund of Rs. 25 crore for the year 2014-15 (out of a total outlay of Rs. 55 crore in the 12th plan period). But, for the subsequent release of funds, the state would need to adhere to future commitments as detailed in the programmatic norms of RUSA guidelines and submit a detailed project report in respect of creation of the cluster university.

Norms of a Cluster University

Some key features of a cluster university as reflected in the RUSA guidelines are:

> Cluster universities will be created by pooling the resources of 3 to 5 existing colleges that have adequate academic, physical and technical infrastructural facilities.

> All the participating colleges in a cluster would eventually become constituent colleges of the newly created university.

> Colleges identified as Colleges with Potential for Excellence or any other criteria which amply demonstrate the various quality parameters of an institution will be considered as the lead institution or a nucleus around which the cluster university would be established.

> Colleges joining the cluster must have the capacity to function as a university. This would include, among other factors, the strength and experience of the administrative staff, the number of years that the individual colleges have been functioning, degree of autonomy they have enjoyed in the past, etc.

> The conversion plan for the creation of universities must include stage wise planning with regard to expansion in infrastructure, number of students, departments, administration, academic functions, research activities, etc. It must also cover the timelines and concrete steps that will be taken for the integration of all the concerned colleges as well as the expected end state of the new University.

To be continued..

* Kumam Anthony Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on February 22, 2015.

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