“Colleges lure students with attractive websites and brochures, promising the best faculty in the country, a good learning environment and 100% placements. The truth is that they advertise and accept admissions for courses which have not been approved and then force students to choose another stream. It is difficult to remember the names of our faculty as they change more rapidly than the seasons; we’ve had four deans in 3 years” recalls Ritika.
If one was to discount exorbitant tuition fees, the “other” charges are as killing. “We are charged Rs 20,000/- per semester for books” says 24 year Arvind, a final year B.Tech student. “And we have never got books worth more than 3000/- Rs and the books we get are of no use to us. Who do we complain to? If we complain to the administration we are threatened with ‘backs’. Once we join these colleges, we become like bonded labor and because our future is at stake, with our parents spending so much money, we keep quiet” he continues.
Complaints abound of tampering with results & attendances, favoritism and nepotism. “Few students, work full time somewhere and have not even attended a dozen classes during the whole year, yet they are never debarred from exams for lack of attendance and they manage to secure pretty good marks too” says another student. Refusal to show answer sheets after the exams leads to suspicion of manipulation of marks. Chosen few, invariably relatives of big wigs are always sent as college representatives for inter college events and national level academic meets, with other students having no clue at all. Labs without basic equipment and libraries without books are a common complaint.
“The rudest shock comes when you are in the final year” says Parag, a third year law student. College authorities, reportedly, wash their hands off placements and refuse to even invite companies to the campus. “Most of the vacancies are filled up by college placements and since our college is not inviting them, we are helpless, as walk-in jobs are rare to find.”
The faculty is equally exploited. Working from the top floor of a school building, an Engineering College is reputed to be employing under-qualified and underpaid staff. “Even though I resigned over a year ago, my name is still in the faculty list and I’m shown as being on Maternity leave” says Meena. “During UGC inspections, another lady was presented as me. The staff were instructed to say that their salaries are Rs 30,000/- per month, when it is a third of that” she reveals. “On being asked why the College functions from one single floor, their standard reply over the last three years is that their own building has cracked and is being repaired. Either the inspection teams are too dumb or choose to ignore such blatant lies” she says.
Suparna, teacher in a well-known University, recalls how she was given a posting order to Imphal with a weeks’ notice “I had to resign. There is no way I could pack my bags, leave my family and reach Imphal in one week. After working for so many years in the college, I deserve more respect than this” she rues.
Stories of irregularities & exploitation are endless. Even if one were not to believe any, one has to admit that there is no complaint redressal mechanism in private colleges which gives their administrators an air of autocracy. It is time the State administration sets up an independent body to safeguard the interests of the students and faculty of the private colleges, where the complainant is assured of a fair hearing and secrecy, without their careers being jeopardized.
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