June 12, 2016 12:13:59 am
In a major embarrassment to the state, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has decided to put on hold accreditation of the four agriculture universities in Maharashtra. The reason behind the decision is stated to be large scale vacancies in government agricultural colleges and mushrooming of private agriculture colleges often without proper infrastructure, affecting the quality of education.
The move would affect grants that the colleges are are due to receive from the apex body. Situated in Akola, Rahuri, Dapoli and Parbhani, the agricultural universities are the controlling bodies for agriculture colleges, both government and private, in their regions.
Private agriculture colleges were not allowed in the state before 2002, but were allowed to operate post a decision by the then government. Between 2002 and 2014, 140 private colleges were established in the state. There are more than 14,200 students pursuing agriculture at various levels in the colleges recognised by the four universities. This includes 13,000 undergraduate students, 1,000 post graduate students and 200 PhD students.
While the universities function on their own, the Maha-rashtra Council for Agriculture Education and Research (MCAER) is the apex body of agriculture education in the state.
Dr Ram Kachre, vice-chairman of MCAER, said ICAR did not communicate with them but had informed about their decision to put the accreditation on hold. The main reason, he said, is vacancies in government agriculture colleges which ICAR said is affecting the quality of education. “Other than their own colleges, government staff are supposed to look after quality of education in private colleges too. The vacancies in government colleges, ICAR felt, is affecting the overall quality of education in the state,” he said.
At present, there is 34-40 per cent vacancy in the state which translates to around 2,500 posts. Most vacancies, Kachre said, are due to administrative reasons and as part of austerity measures by the state. “The vice-chancellors of the respective universities can fill up the posts till assistant professors, but the state government had put a brake on it in early 2015. We had taken up the matter with the government, after which the V-Cs were allowed to fill up 50 per cent of the posts,” he said.
Another important reason for vacancies is not fulfilling the roster by the universities. “The universities at Rahuri and Akola have failed to do so and we have asked them to speed up the process,” Kachre said. Government organisations have to fill up a certain percentage of their sanctioned posts with candidates from reserved categories, which is called roster.
ICAR’s decision, Kachre said, would affect only 15-20 per cent students allocated to the state from the all-India entrance conducted by ICAR. “This would have no effect on the present students or their degrees. In fact, MCAER has ensured that everything goes as per schedule,” he said. Kachre has also taken up the matter with ICAR and intimated it of various steps taken to fill up vacancies. “We are hopeful the matter would be resolved soon,” he said.
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