By Ummar Jamal
Kashmir University, a once most preferred institution, is grappling with an unprecedented challenge as it struggles to fill numerous vacant seats across its campuses. The statistics available paint a worrisome picture, with 124 seats vacant at the main campus, 45 at the Zakura campus, 32 at the North Kashmir campus, and a staggering 111 at the South Kashmir campus. The Government Degree College’s MSc Mathematics program also faces the predicament of five unclaimed seats. This surge in unoccupied seats has compelled the university to extend the admissions window for an unusual five months, sparking concerns among stakeholders.
A brief examination of enrollment figures for certain colleges also reveals a notable decline. For instance, the Government Degree College in Ganderbal experienced a substantial decrease, dropping from 1700 admissions in 2022 to approximately 700 in 2023. Similarly, Beerwa College witnessed a decline from 493 to 311, while Sogam (Kupwara) College recorded 513 enrollments, down from 689 in 2022. Khansahab College in Budgam observed a reduction in enrollment from 300 to 167. Handwara College experienced a sharp decline from 963 to 577, and the Women’s College in Srinagar saw a decrease from 220 in 2022 to 145 in 2023.
Traditionally, Kashmir University has held a prestigious position, drawing students from various regions due to its A+ grade recognition and consistent placement within the top 50 institutions in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). Students eagerly anticipated their selection into postgraduate departments, making the university a coveted choice for higher education. However, the present scenario starkly contrasts with historical trends, as the university grapples with a significant decline in admissions. To comprehend the underlying reasons behind this enrollment downturn, it is imperative to examine a confluence of factors that seem to be contributing to Kashmir University’s struggles.
Delayed Exams and Results
One of the most pressing issues Kashmir university has been grappling with for a long time now is the issue of delayed exams and delayed results. Kashmir university students often hit streets because of the increasing trend of delayed examinations and prolonged result announcements. The students often complain that the academic calendar is not followed. The academic calendar plays a pivotal role in attracting students, and any disruptions have cascading effects. The increasing trend of delayed examinations and prolonged result announcements in Kashmir University create uncertainty among Kashmiri students, forcing them to explore alternative educational avenues. The extended waiting period for examination results creates apprehension and frustration among applicants, potentially dissuading them from choosing Kashmir University for their academic pursuits.
Every students prefers to opt for institutions with more streamlined and timely examination processes to ensure a smoother progression through their academic journey. Moreover, the prolonged uncertainty has impacted the overall reputation of Kashmir university, potentially deterring potential applicants who prioritize institutions with a reputation for efficient and well-managed academic processes. Therefore, addressing and improving the timeliness of exams and result announcements can play a pivotal role in maintaining and even enhancing enrollment figures at Kashmir University.
Lack of placements and lower employability prospects
The decline in admissions at Kashmir University can be attributed, in part, to concerns surrounding lower employability prospects for its graduates and post graduates and the lack of placements in professional and technical courses. As students increasingly prioritize tangible career outcomes and professional opportunities, the university’s perceived shortcomings in facilitating successful placements acts as a deterrent for potential applicants.
In an era where employability is a key metric for assessing the value of higher education, universities that are perceived to fall short in this regard face challenges in attracting and retaining students. To reverse this trend, Kashmir University should consider implementing and highlighting initiatives that enhance students’ employability skills, foster industry connections, and improve overall placement rates.
The methods of teaching and learning employed by an institution greatly influence its appeal to modern students. Kashmir University’s pedagogical approaches are perceived as outdated or incompatible with contemporary educational expectations, therefore, students prefer to opt for institutions offering more progressive and innovative teaching methodologies. In a rapidly changing world, adaptability and innovation in teaching strategies are essential. Students today are accustomed to diverse learning environments, and a university’s failure to innovate in its teaching methods has rendered it less appealing in comparison to institutions that embrace progressive approaches.
Additionally, though it may sound something novel, there is the scarcity of competent faculty in Kashmir university. The perceived inadequacy of the academic staff has eroded the university’s academic reputation, resulting in a diminished learning experience for students. The absence of experienced mentors for research and limited professional networks further deters prospective students. This deficiency not only hampers program accreditation but also undermines the overall appeal of the institution.
Neglect of Extracurricular Activities
A holistic education encompasses not only academic pursuits but also extracurricular activities that nurture a well-rounded individual. Kashmir university is perceived as lacking in opportunities for students to engage in sports, cultural activities, or community service and other extracurricular activities. Therefore, it has lost its appeal. Emphasizing and enhancing extracurricular offerings could contribute to a more vibrant campus life.
Red-Tapism and Administrative Bottlenecks
Last but not least, the encroachment of red-tapism within Kashmir University has erected formidable barriers that deter prospective students from choosing the institution. The labyrinthine admissions process, delays in awarding degree certificates, faulty re-evaluation system, lack of grievance redressal mechanism and inefficiencies in timely allotment of hostel accommodations for students from far off places creates additional challenges for students seeking a supportive living environment. The cumulative impact of red-tapism not only hampers the academic journey but also fosters a sense of disillusionment and frustration.
As Kashmir University confronts the intricate challenge of declining admissions, the road to renewal demands a collective commitment to transformation. The multifaceted issues, encompassing delayed exams, antiquated pedagogy, a dearth of extracurricular activities, and administrative red-tapism, underscore the imperative for comprehensive reform. In charting a course for renewal, it is pivotal for university administrators, faculty, and policymakers to embark on a concerted effort. Recognizing the gravity of the situation and acknowledging the need for strategic changes is the first step. The extended admissions window signals an opportunity for reflection, adaptation, and innovation.
The journey towards reclaiming its status as a premier institution necessitates not only addressing immediate concerns but also envisioning a future where adaptability, innovation, and student-centric policies define its identity. Through a comprehensive and strategic effort, Kashmir University can aspire to rekindle the trust and interest of prospective students, once again becoming a beacon of academic excellence in the region.
Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
- The Author is a Kashmir based columnist. He tweets at ummar_jamal and can be reached at umar [email protected]
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