Nagaland Private Colleges Seek Financial Stimulus From Government - Eastern Mirror
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Nagaland private colleges seek financial stimulus from government

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By EMN Updated: Jul 16, 2020 12:26 am

Dimapur, July 15 (EMN): The Private College Association Nagaland (PCAN) has requested the government to bail out private colleges in the state from the coronavirus-induced crisis by providing financial assistance, stating that educational institutions don’t have the liquidity to pay their faculty and staff with revenue being stopped due to the pandemic.

The association made the appeal on Wednesday through a letter addressed to the chief minister of Nagaland.

Mentioning that 44 private colleges of Nagaland catered to about 23,600 students as against 7,400 in 15 government colleges out of the total 31,000 students in the state during 2018-19, the PCAN requested the recently formed Core Group for Economic Affairs to look into its “dire situation and needs”. “We employ about 1,090 teachers and 640 staff, and who are now facing great challenges presented by Covid-19 pandemic,” it added.

“Semester exams were scheduled for 2nd April 2020 and the new session with new admissions were scheduled for May 2020. However, neither the exams could be conducted nor the new session be started. If this situation continues, we fear that we may be compelled to grant to our faculty and staff, leave without pay, lay off employees etc.,” the letter read.

The association stated that the Higher Education budget during 2018-19 was INR 113.01 crore and the allocation to private colleges was INR 0.64 crore (INR 64 lakh) which is a meagre 0.57% of the total budget, adding that “there is no significant change during 2019-20”. (Refer table)

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“We request that your office may kindly intervene and grant a special financial stimulus to the private colleges, and also meaningfully enhance the annual grant-in-aid, so that we can offer fee concessions to our students during this Covid-19, as well as maintain full pay and salary to our faculty and staff,” the letter read, adding that the institutions don’t have the resources to pay its employees.

It stated that many private colleges have given fee concessions as well as scholarships to the student community at different levels, and that the “teachers, staff and their families also deserve our attention”. Claiming that people expect fee concession despite the private colleges of Nagaland charging less fee compared to other parts of the country, it appealed to the government to provide “one-time financial assistance to compensate the loss during this Covid-19 pandemic by helping the students through fee reimbursement or some other creative solution”.

PCAN also suggested the government to extend a special one-time assistance of 30 to 50% of fees to the needy students who are finding difficult to meet college expenses due to the pandemic.

Touching on the trend of shifting to online learning, the association said that both the staff and students have adapted well to the change but internet connectivity should cover the remote areas of the state to make the new form of learning effective. On this, it requested the government to upgrade internet facilities without delay.

Long-term impact on education sector

The PCAN has urged the government and concerned departments to strategise their vision statements, planning and policy decisions to overhaul and upgrade the existing system by taking forward the stakeholders for future posterity.

Stating that private colleges account for about 76% of students in the state and offer varied courses like management studies unlike government institutions and charge “lowest” fees in the country, the association said the state government should take private educational institutions as a strategic partner instead of giving “step-motherly treatment” and being dubbed as “money-minting institutions”.

“This is painfully experienced by the fact that quite a few private colleges in the state were compelled to close down over the last several years. While private colleges in India receive INR 30-40 lakhs p.a as grant-in-aid, colleges in Nagaland are given just a token,” it said.

Left out of Rusa

The PCAN said that private colleges have been left out of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (Rusa), a central government scheme to improve quality in higher education at state level, though it is meant for all recognised universities and colleges, both government and private. It added that private colleges are willing to provide the state’s 10% share under the scheme which follows 90:10 (Central:State) funding pattern if the government has difficulty in contributing its share.

Common vision

The association stated that it shares the same vision as the state government to make Nagaland an educational hub and suggested to make it a reality by working together.

It expressed the need to overhaul the higher educational system in the state by introspecting and re-designing “our educational and economic system”. This, the PCAN said, will stop the youths from going to other states for studies and employment.

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By EMN Updated: Jul 16, 2020 12:26:15 am
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