PG language courses at varsity fail to catch fancy of students

Experts attribute lack of interest to ‘Vocationalisation’ of education sector,lack of permanent faculty

Written by Mihika Basu | Mumbai | Published: August 29, 2013 1:12 am

Languages like French,German,Gujarati,Kannada,Arabic,Persian,Russian,Sindhi and subjects like linguistics,Eurasian studies,Islamic studies and African studies have had very few takers at the post-graduate level at Mumbai University. According to information obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act,there hasn’t been any enrollment for MA programme in Islamic studies from 2008-09 academic session to 2012-13,while the number of students registered for MA in Eurasian studies has been two in 2008-09 and one each in 2009-10 and 2012-13. For African studies,only one student registered between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

German too seems unpopular among students,with only seven enrollments in 2012-13,while four students registered for MA in linguistics in the same academic year.

“The popularity of Russian studies is less than a few other languages,which are,perhaps,more commercially viable. Till 2005,MA in Russian was not supported by an undergraduate degree at the university. One can pursue a foreign language only if he/she has had sufficient background of it at the school or college level. We,however,don’t have Russian as a subject at the school level. It was only in 2005-06 that Mumbai University began a five-year integrated programme in Russian (BA and MA). And,any new programme will take time to pick up,” said Dr Laxmi S Mikaelyan,head of the department of Russian at Mumbai University. The Russian department had three students enrolled for its masters programme in 2012-13.

According to TISS Prof Lata Narayan,there had not been a growth in demand for language courses and the phenomenon was across universities. “With vocationalisation of the education sector and students looking for job-oriented courses,languages today are not very popular. Unless they are passionate about a language,students are not likely to take it up at the post-graduate level,” Narayan said.

Lack of permanent faculty is another reason plaguing some of the language departments. At the department of Arabic,a permanent faculty member was recently recruited and it has an in-charge head.

“We only have two permanent faculty members. The department has to rely on visiting faculty,who are difficult to get as they are working professionals,” said Mikaelyan.

Dr G N Upadhaya,head of the department of Kannada at the university,said his department too suffered from lack of faculty. Upadhaya has been the only permanent faculty at the department,which has fluctuating registrations – four in 2008-09,11 in 2009-10,five in 2010-11,13 in 2011-2012 and three in 2012-13. “Kannada is a minority language and the masters programme is semester-based with credits. Most students are working and such a pattern does not suit them as they are unable to stay on campus for long. For the 2013-14 academic session,around 15 students have enrolled for the masters programme,15 for Mphil and 10 for PhD. We also conduct certificate and diploma courses. It is difficult to manage so many students with just one permanent faculty,” he said.

Some language programmes like Urdu,Pali,Hindi and Marathi,however,have a good student strength. “There are many schools across the country and in the state that teach Urdu. The language is also close to the Indian culture. Hence,we have many students opting for it at the postgraduate level,” said Dr Saheb Ali,head of the Urdu department.

Mphil programmes across various courses have seen very few takers over the last five years. For Mphil in African Studies,the numbers were six in 2008-09,eight in 2009-10,10 in 2010-11,nine in 2011-12 and none in 2012-13. For English too,the numbers varied from seven in 2008-09,10 in 2009-10,zero for the next two academic years and then 16 in 2012-13. For mathematics,the numbers were seven in 2008-09,six in 2009-10,four in 2011-2012 and no takers in 2010-11 and 2012-13. “Students do not see much benefit of doing an Mphil course,unless they take up an academic or research-oriented career,” an academician said.

Information further revealed that diploma courses offered by the university’s Garware Institute of Career Education and Development at the post-graduate level were also a hit among students. The enrollments,however,have dipped from 646 in 2009-10 and 685 in 2010-2011 to 578 in 2011-12 and 580 in 2012-13.

“Students prefer skill-based courses to conventional degree courses at the post-graduate level as chances of getting placed are high,” said Dr Rambhau Badode,head of Garware institute.

mihika.basu@expressindia.com

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