Valley’s public colleges losing their sheen?Public colleges in Kathmandu seem to be losing their sheen in recent years, with many of them struggling for survival in the wake of a sharp decline in number of students.
Public colleges in Kathmandu seem to be losing their sheen in recent years, with many of them struggling for survival in the wake of a sharp decline in number of students.
Data collected by the Post from four public colleges in Kathmandu and Lalitpur show a gradual decline in number of students enrolling in campuses for higher education, largely due to their failure to offer competitive academic courses.
Saraswati Multiple College, established in 1959, managed to enrol only 83 students in its bachelor’s programmes in the humanities stream in the academic year 2015-16.
The college, which runs bachelor’s and master’s programmes in humanities and social sciences and management, has more staff than students. Of the 148 staff of the college, 40 are teaching staff.
“The number of students enrolling in the college this academic calendar is not very encouraging,” says Ram Hari Lamsal, chief of the college, painting a grim picture of the institution.
And the situation is no different in other colleges which used to attract thousands of students in the past.
Ratna Rajya Campus, which saw 1,021 new enrolments in 2011-13, enrolled 704 students in the academic year 2015-16.
Similarly, Patan Multiple Campus in Lalitpur which had seen 501 students enrolling themselves for various courses in 2011-12 had 433 students in 2015-16—a small but significant drop in the numbers.
Education experts and policymakers attribute the decline in number of students in these public colleges to various factors, including privatisation of education and political intervention. Increase in number of varsities and private colleges and students’ growing interest to go abroad for studies are other factors, they say.
“Policymakers failed to modernise public colleges; most of these colleges are still offering the same courses they were offering a decade ago,” says Bishnu Karki, an education expert, pointing at the failure on the part of the colleges and policymakers to maintain pace with the changing times.
“Public colleges’ failure to provide diversified courses has ultimately forced students to seek alternatives. Students must be offered courses with which they can sell themselves in the global market.”
International degree and work opportunities are making students pursue higher education in foreign countries.
At least 33,000 students obtained permission from the government to pursue higher education in foreign universities in the fiscal year 2015-16, according to official figures. Similarly, a large number of students went to India, where such government permissions are not required, for higher studies.
Dilli Upreti, rector of the Tribhuvan University, however, says the drop in enrolment in public colleges in the Valley is not surprising as there are several colleges outside the Valley these days.
“Students have lots of choice these days. Unlike in the past when students would come to the Capital for higher studies, these days they have various choices, as there are many universities and their affiliate institutions outside the Valley,” says Upreti.
TU officials claim that a large number of students studying in public colleges in Kathmandu come from districts adjoining the Valley and the far-western region, where number of colleges for higher education is still low. However, no research has been done in this regard.