Students suffer as fewer varsities offer limited PG seats in Valley

After finishing three-year degree courses in colleges, most of the students of the valley who want to pursue higher education have to suffer because of the limited intake capacity in few universities of the valley. Most of the students, after getting their bachelor’s degree from the colleges, have to toil hard to get admission in few universities of the valley. As a result students who fail to get a place in the universities by a small margin have only a few options left. They either have to give up studies and find a job, which in itself is a herculean task in Kashmir, or they have to sit at home for one more year and prepare for next year’s entrance test.
Those students who can afford the cost prefer to move outside the state for further studies. This trend of studying outside the state has shown an exponential increase as there are few universities in Kashmir who offer fewer seats for pursuing various post-graduate courses. The recently held post-graduation entrance exams reflect the sorry state of higher studies opportunities available in Kashmir.
Kashmir University, which is largest institution in terms of courses offered and seats available, received more than 35,000 applications for various post-graduate courses, excluding B.Ed and M.Ed programs. The varsity provided admission to only 3000 odd students for the year 2013-2014. The distance mode M.Ed and B.Ed programs have received more than 30,000 applications for 4500 odd number of seats available.
Suhaib Ahmad Mir, who has applied for the Masters in Commerce (M.Com) in Kashmir University, is waiting for the final selection list. It is Suhaib’s second try at the entrance exams in two years for the same subject. He had already lost one year of studies after he failed to qualify the entrance test for last year. “I completed my graduation last year in 2012 but I failed to qualify in the entrance test of 2012. Due to the economic condition of my family, I decided to stay in home for one year and prepare for next year’s entrance test,” he says. “This year I have prepared fully and I hope I will get a seat in Kashmir University.” Suhaib says that if there were more avenues available for pursuing higher education in the valley, things would have been much easier for him. “If there were more universities in Kashmir, this time I would have been in my third semester,” he says.
Unlike Suhaib, who prepared for one year at home after he was not selected in the previous year, Ishfaq Ahmad enrolled himself in Lovely Professional University (LPU) after he failed to qualify the Kashmir University entrance test of 2012. “I applied for Masters in Chemistry in 2012, but I couldn’t qualify due to deficiency of three points,” says Ishfaq. “I didn’t want to lose one year for the reason that there were no other avenues in the Valley to do PG. So I applied in LPU for the same subject and I got selected there,” he says.
For students admissions in Kashmir University depend on priority of the subject one has applied for. Usually students apply for more than one subject and when they get selected in more than one subject, they choose the better option. Fida Hussain is a student of Mass Communication, department of Kashmir University, but Mass Communication wasn’t his first choice. “In 2012 entrance test of KU, I appeared in three subjects, Zoology, LLB and Mass Communication,” he says. “My first priority was Zoology but I couldn’t make it to the selection list due to deficit of one point; however I was selected in the other two,” says Fida. “Mass Communication was second on my priority list so I went for it.”
Among the four universities in Kashmir Valley — Kashmir University, Islamic University of Science and Technology, Central University of Kashmir (CUK) and Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKAUST) – which offer Post Graduate courses, it is only Kashmir University that provides admission to the bulk of PG aspirants. Among the 4000 odd Post Graduation seats available in the four major varsities of the Valley, Kashmir University alone accommodates around 3000 students (except it’s distance mode), and the rest three universities provide admission to around 1000 students.
Kashmir University, which is the largest platform of Higher education in Kashmir, offers Post Graduate programs in more than 40 courses. This year, University will select around 3000 students out of more than 35000 applicants it received for its three campuses. “Around 2200 students will get admissions in the main campus Hazratbal and the rest will get admission in North and South Campus,” says Prof. A M Shah, Dean Academic Affairs, Kashmir University. Prof. Shah says given the increasing number of applicants applying per year in the University, new plans are in the pipeline to provide admission to more students. “The university has already increased intake capacity in most of the courses few years back. The university is trying its level best to provide education to every aspirant and for that we are trying our level best,” he says. “We are trying to develop North and South campus so that more number of aspiring students can be imparted higher education in these two new campuses. We are also exploring new options like starting of evening classes.”
However, Shah admitted that there are impediments and Kashmir University alone cannot accommodate all the students. “We have our constraints and our campuses can only accommodate limited number of students,” he says, adding that for distance mode education programs, which include B.Ed and M.Ed, the University this year received more than 30,000 applications for 4500 odd number of seats. “For 1200 seats in distance mode M.Ed program, varsity has received around 18,000 applications and for distance mode B.Ed, we received more than 13000 applications for just 3300 odd seats,” informs Shah.
Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), which is a relatively small University as compared to Kashmir University, offers only nine post graduate courses. An official of the Varsity said last year IUST received around 4200 applications for all the 18 courses, which included post graduate courses, undergraduate and certificate courses. In the nine PG courses, around 340 seats were available for the taking last year.
Central University of Kashmir (CUK) is still in its infancy stage in Kashmir. Established in the year 2009, the varsity offers admissions in nine PG courses and one undergraduate course. The central university has its transit campus at Sonwar, while as its academic block is operating from Zainakote. It is presently imparting education to more than 500 students. “Despite the fact that CUK is only few years old, the university is offering PG courses in nine different subjects. Presently around 529 students are enrolled in CUK in all its campuses across Kashmir,” informs an official from CUK. He says that the university in near future will introduce new courses as well as increase the intake capacity in the courses the varsity offers. “Recently the university has introduced new course of MA in Politics (International Relations) and introduction of more courses is in the pipeline,” the official added.
In the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir (SKUAST), the number of seats available for more than 30 PG courses is around 220. In PG courses, in subjects like Environmental Science and Statistics, the seats available are only 2 and 6 respectively. According to the officials of SKUAST, the courses offered by the varsity attract much less number of students as compared to other science and social science subjects. “Less students turn up for the courses we offer, the reason being more inclination of students towards other subjects and less courses related to agriculture, horticulture, sericulture and fishiries offered at graduate level,” says Farooq Ahmad, Registrar SKUAST. He says that university has recently increased intake capacity in various programs. “We have recently increased intake capacity under self financed seats, however chances of more increase in the number of seats in the near future seems grim,” he added.


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