Dhanamanjuri University - by abolishing the DM Colleges ?
- From the perspective of RUSA -
- Part 2 -

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

Requirements for the participating colleges

> All participating colleges should have been in existence for 15 years.

> Should have an existing combined enrollment of 2000 students and the proposed total enrollment of students must be enough to sustain the institution as a university with a minimum enrolment requirement of 4000 students.

> As the university would be a multi campus university, the physical proximity of the institutions should be such that they are able to share physical and human resources and would be able to facilitate student and faculty mobility (ideally within a maximum radius of 15 20 kms from the lead institution (to take into account the special condition of North East Region States).

> The State government should identify a nucleus college or ensure the availability of necessary land required for the university in and around the nucleus college to build university super structure.

> Should have teaching programmes in undergraduate and postgraduate courses or have the demonstrated ability to undertake postgraduate programmes.

> The combined graduate and postgraduate departments proposed by the institutions must be able to lay the foundation for a multi disciplinary institution (covering atleast two or more of the humanities, arts, commerce, science, engineering or other faculties) of postgraduate studies and research. Hence, the colleges/institutions identified to be a part of the University should have appropriate diversity in teaching and research.

Future Commitments

The multi campus cluster universities must meet the following pre requisites within three months upon approval:

> Agree to share existing facilities in partner colleges and undertake common ventures in promoting access, equity and quality of education.

Governance and related issues

> Agree to a shared vision and principles of association

> Agree to certain principles of governance like equal status to participating institutions, collective decision making, autonomy and accountability, independence and interdependence, physical proximity, optimal size, partnership of publicly funded institutions, etc.

> Agree to a Memorandum of Understanding which should clearly specify the nature and extent of relationship among partnering colleges and lay down the modalities for the functioning of the cluster.

> Agree to a governance structure which should ensure equal and adequate representation of partnering institutions for democratic decision making and effective implementation of academic programmes, financial autonomy and social accountability (see section 4.8.9 of RUSA document).

> An appropriate governance structure for cluster universities shall be detailed by respective States through a new Act or amendments to the existing Act within a year from the date of establishment.

From a careful study of the above features, one thing is clear that the colleges constituting a cluster university are very much there as constituent colleges of the university. Also the concept of such a cluster university is quite different from that of a conventional university. Indeed the whole foundation of a cluster university is on the principles of association of the cluster colleges as participants and equal partners.

Also, as are clearly specified in the future commitments, the functioning of a cluster university is to be based on an MOU specifying the nature and extent of relationship among the partnering colleges. And regarding the principles and structure of governance, the participating colleges are major players in a cluster university system. Indeed the whole exercise of creating such a university is by way of conversion of the participating colleges by executing a well-detailed plan which includes stage-wise planning with regard to expansion in infrastructure, administration and academic and research activities.

The university does not even need to have separate departments for post-graduate studies and research. The same can be achieved through gradual expansion and upgradation of the existing departments (along with the recruitment of additional teachers) in the cluster colleges. The only extra structures coming up outside the colleges are the administrative block buildings to house the offices of the officers of the university, central library, auditorium, common classrooms, canteen, toilets etc. in and around the lead college.

By now, we are pretty sure that there is never the question of abolishing the colleges constituting a cluster university, in the process of creating the university. Then, is it deliberate or otherwise on the part of the government to not mention the cluster colleges namely DM College of Science, DM College of Arts, DM College of Commerce, LMS Law College and GP Women's College (as in the approval by PAB) as constituent colleges in the Dhanamanjuri University Bill, 2014 (as pointed out by AMGOCTA)? Is the government toying with the idea of a conventional type of university instead of a cluster university?

Or, has the government failed to understand the basic nature of a cluster university as detailed in the RUSA guidelines? But in either case, the norms are not fulfilled and guidelines violated and consequently there is a serious doubt about whether the funds would be released under RUSA .But the state needs funds for the new university.

And given the financial condition of the state, RUSA is the only hope as has been repeatedly asserted by the Hon'ble Minister of Education, Manipur. Then there is no reason as to why the state government should violate the guidelines of RUSA and put the ambitious project of Dhanamanjuri University in jeopardy, to the disappointment of all.

Also the whole episode of Dhanamanjuri University seems to suggest a lack of honesty and transparency on the part of the government and an absence of consultation and discussion with the stakeholders.

Concluded .. .

* Kumam Anthony Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on February 25, 2015.

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