EVEN as Mumbai is set to get its first cluster university comprising four of its oldest institutes, students say it will be a setback for them to part ways with the “prestigious” Mumbai university. Meanwhile, top academicians have welcomed the move, stating that it would help enhance the quality of higher education in the state. Cluster university means one major institute will lead three to five institutions in its vicinity.
The four institutes – Institutes of Science, Elphinstone college, Government Law college and Government B.Ed college – are older than MU but had lost their own identity when they merged with the university over 150 years ago. The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development is mulling the creation of 35 new cluster universities across the country by pooling resources of three to five existing government and government-aided colleges under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) programme. The cluster University in Mumbai is one of the 35 projects.
According to the RUSA draft guidelines, which have been released for consultation, the 35 cluster universities will receive Rs 55 crore each (a total of Rs 1,925 crore) in the current phase and another Rs 65 crore in the next phase. All the participating colleges will be converted into constituent colleges of the newly created university.
Noted economist and academician Abhay Pethe said, “The idea behind the concept of cluster university is decentralisation and making smaller units. It is evident that when smaller units are formed, working becomes more flexible and quality is enhanced. I welcome the move. However, I hope that they implement it well,” said Pethe. M A Khan, registrar of MU and an academician, said, “The university will lose a burden of four institutes. It already has 740 colleges. In order to maintain the quality, decentralisation is needed. Cluster university will lead to decentralisation of institutes. However, students may not like this change.” Amod Rawal, an MPhil student of the university, said, “I am not in favour of such an experiment. If it goes wrong, students will suffer.”