Now that the admission process has started, what are the new initiatives you have introduced this year to facilitate the process?
This year, we have released a joint prospectus on June 7. The aim is to reach the maximum number of students. They do not need to come to the college and can fill up the form from home. We have added the net banking facility to enable students pay fees online. There are two options to pay the fees — by Internet banking or by debit card. They cannot pay through credit card, since there are certain issues. We have not printed any prospectus and not charging any fees. There is only a nominal processing fee to be submitted at the time of admission.
Is the process completely online? Or there is offline option too?
No. It is online. But the students have to submit a printout of the online-filled application form in the college and bring other documents for verification. The department had announced that a mobile app will also be launched for the admission purposes. When will it be launched? We have devised a mobile app, but at present it does not have all the data required by a student to fill up a form. In order to fill up the form, the students are advised to visit the website, which can be easily opened on cellphones. So, we have postponed the launch of the mobile app for next year. If we have a well-functional website, then mobile app is not required.
Will there be centralised counselling for courses?
We have set up four centres for centralised counselling. Except basic courses like BA, we have introduced centralised counselling for specialised courses like BCA, BCom, BSc in biotechnology. The students will not have to visit different colleges and can go to one for counselling. The admission would be done on merit.
The number of students seeking admission in Chandigarh colleges is increasing every year. Is there any proposal to build more government colleges in the city?
The UT adviser has promised residents of Manimajra last year that a government college will be set up in Manimajra. We have identified the land and will soon construct the boundary wall to earmark the site for the education department. We will also start the process to seek funds from the Centre for the purpose. We have taken a decision that it will not be a specialised college, but will offer all courses as in other government colleges.
Apart from some add-on courses, no new courses have been introduced in any of the government colleges in the past few years? Can students expect new courses this year?
We can launch courses only with prior approval from the Panjab University. If we want to introduce a new course in the next academic session, the proposal for that has to be sent in August. In a government set-up, we have constraint of classes and hostels. So, we will hold a meeting with the principals of all colleges and may be draft a proposal for the next academic session. This year, there are no new courses.
There are also recommendations from colleges to increase the hostel seats, since more students are seeking the hostel facility?
Definitely, there is a need for more hostels. Some of our students are living in hostels of the social welfare department. There are projects to build two more hostels and we hope that the construction would be completed by the end of this year. One will be for the students of Government College for Girls (PGGGC), Sector 11, and the other for PG Government College (co-ed), Sector 11.
There were reports that the education department will release the prospectus early next year.
No. The idea is to start the process of making the prospectus early. The process is normally started in March-end or April when the examinations are underway in colleges. At that time, it gets difficult to make any changes in the prospectus according to the recommendations of the colleges. Therefore, we plan to form a committee in advance in January, so that it has ample time to go through the content and select what students want to know.
How challenging has been the introduction of the online admission process in government colleges? Not all the students are familiar with the online system of admission.
Yes. In order to address that, we have set up help desks in colleges and there is also a helpline number. The students can visit the college and take help from the staff at the help desk in filling up the form. The help desk will be there till the admission process is closed to help the students. Our employees are well-equipped with computers and the Internet. The Chandigarh administration has also set up a State Higher Education Council (SHEC). What is the objective of the institution?
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has launched Rashtriya Ucch Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), under that we have set up State Higher Education Council. It is headed by the Panjab University vice-chancellor, who is also the chairman. The aim of setting up the council is to promote higher education and it discusses recommendations on how we can improve higher education. We have set up an office in Sector 42 for State Project Directorate, RUSA, and will make the office completely paper-less and make it a Centre of Excellence. Under this, we can get grants from the central government for providing various facilities in the colleges. We had organised a capacity building programme in March for teachers under this programme. Initially, we have got only preparatory grant of Rs 1.5 crore. All private colleges, including PEC, Sector 12, will be a part of it.
There has been a long pending demand from students of Panchkula and Mohali to be included in the UT pool for 85 per cent reservation in city colleges? Is there any proposal in this regard?
There is no such proposal yet.