Five ways the UGC wants to create healthier campuses across colleges and universities

Five ways the UGC wants to create healthier campuses across colleges and universities

Higher education sector regulator UGC plans to bring
comprehensive norms to reduce psychological distress among
universities and college students and promotes sports and physical

The key challenge lies in creating institutionalized practices that can
ensure protection to students from any threat and assault, physical, social,
discriminatory, cultural, and linguistic causing psychological distress
among students, says the Universities Grants Commission (UGC).

The UGC had also constituted an Expert Committee that suggested
various ways in which the campuses can be made healthier. The
Committee has suggested a range of measures on which the UGC has sought public feedback based on which it will finalize
the norms.

1) Students Services Centre (SSC) : Every university and college should have a Students Services Centre (SSC) responsible for dealing with and managing the problems related to stress and emotional adjustment. The SSC must have the necessary resources like competent physical and mental health counselors, physical and mental health experts, and physio-psychological assessment tools to inform, assess and guide students.

2) Physical Fitness: Currently, physical activity is not mandatory in spite of higher education institutions having sufficient human resources and infrastructure for physical and sports activity. It is a great irony that sports fee is charged from each of the students admitted in the institution but participation in sports activity or utilization of sports facility is done by only 1 or 2 % of the total strength of the students in a higher education institution. Physically inactive campus life for the students leads them
towards various psycho-somatic disorders

3) Opportunity to Reform: The students entering universities embark on a new phase in life. Many are often removed from their comfort zone and the secure environment of their homes to face the challenges of independent life. At times, these new challenges can be intimidating and create apprehension in the minds of the young adults which may lead to deviant behaviours. Generally, the higher educaton institutions, without objective analysis of such deviant behaviours, resort to punitive
measures, including disciplinary action such as suspension of the student for a specific or indefinite period.

Such punitive actions may create a sense of dejection and frustration in young minds. Deviant behaviors among students have several educational implications. The HEIs need to avoid such punitive measures to the extent possible and take affirmative action through programs including taking the services of professional psychological counselors and promoting
wellness through yoga and meditation.

4) Pacts: Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with premier Institutions like, NIMHANS, HBAS, RINPAS, AIIMS and other
institutions where departments of psychiatry are fully functional in case special pharmacological intervention or other medical interventions are required. The faculty members of HEIs are to be encouraged to attend refresher course(s) on Counselling, Mental Health, Well-being, and Mentoring Skills and Competencies.

5) Measures to have an impacts on college varsity rakings: The proposed guidelines also suggest that the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) may consider to assign certain points orgrades for provisions of student service centres in colleges and varsities. The records of various activities of SSC must be maintained properly and be made available to NAAC, NIRF etc. Motivational lectures and other activities promoting positive
thinking among the students should be regularly organised.