Maharashtra to add 1,338 new colleges across state universities, 255 sites approved for MU

Maharashtra to add 1,338 new colleges across state universities, 255 sites approved for MU

Maharashtra government has approved sites for 1,338 new colleges in the state, which include 255 sites for higher education institutes in the jurisdiction of the University of Mumbai (MU) while another 203 colleges under the SNDT Women’s University. While the site approvals have come from the Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education Development (MAHED), respective universities will be accepting applications from college managements interested in setting up colleges in said locations until April 30.

“The approvals include both new colleges, as well as new courses/departments in existing colleges. However, a large majority of the 255 approvals are for new colleges,” said an official from MU, on condition of anonymity. While it is still unclear where exactly these sites have been approved, officials pointed out that a large number of approvals are for areas in Palghar, Sindhudurg, and Konkan regions whereas those approved within MMR are mostly for existing colleges that plan to start a new course/department on their existing campus.

As per the process in place, once applications are received, respective universities will start the process of scrutinising the applications and only those that meet the criterion for setting up colleges will finally make their way into the new perspective plan of the university. “While site approvals have come from the government, eventually a very small number of applications make it through to the perspective plan,” added the MU official.

This move to approve new colleges, especially for universities such as MU has invited flak from several experts, especially senate members as well as the teacher community. Last year, MU approved 74 new colleges as per their perspective plan, which was immediately shot down by senate members who felt that an already overworked university will not be able to handle more colleges under its wing. The Bombay University College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) as well as Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (MFUCTO) had raised objections and demanded for a new perspective plan to be released.

In a letter addressed to governor Koshyari in September 2021, members have also highlighted how approval of 74 new colleges is a 12.2% increase in existing non-technology faculty whereas the university law only allows a 5% increase. “What’s more is that several members of the senate rejected the proposed perspective plan when it was tabled in the senate, despite which the university approved the same,” said members in their letter of dissent.

The university controls over 840 affiliated colleges across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) including Thane and Palghar as well as Raigad, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Daman, and Goa. The large area and number of colleges, coupled with an acute shortage of staff, often creates administrative problems for the varsity, affecting the overall quality of education.

“MU statutes mention that a special committee should survey the location and understand from stakeholders the need for colleges before approving a new institute in the perspective plan. However, no such physical survey was conducted. Approving colleges in a city that already is overflowing with institutes, especially for traditional arts, science and commerce show zero research by MU,” said Tapati Mukhopadhyay, president, of Maharashtra Federation of University and College Teachers’ Organisation (MFUCTO).