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Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the debate over self financing courses (SFC) in Odisha universities catch attention and gather steam, it has been revealed that the State government has been struggling to keep these courses afloat with poor infrastructure support and shortage of faculty members in universities.

Odisha has almost 7000 seats in several self financing courses across 20 government-run and other technical universities. However, the situation on ground tells a totally different story altogether.

As per reports, almost all the SFCs in universities are grappling with shortage of staff and poor infrastructure. The situation has forced the students getting uninterested to take admissions in them.

For example, the BSc Nursing self financing course opened at the second campus of Utkal University in Chandikhol two years back has seen protests and agitation by students to fill up faculty positions, which has been running with only three staff. But the situation remains same this year too, resulting in only 10 admissions this session against a total of 45 seats.

Venting his frustration, a Utkal University SFC student, Biswajit, said, “There is a dire need of reforms in SFCs. There are no studios, no classrooms. The situation has become so grave that students are forced to wait for other classes to get over to study in the lone class room used for multiple courses.”

The Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar (BJB) college in Bhubaneswar faces similar problems in its eight SFCs run through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.

Similarly, the MPC Autonomous college in Baripada, which runs 10 different SFCs, does not have a single regular faculty.

The situation of SFCs in Odisha has raised concerns in the intellectuals and academicians who suggested that the government should take immediate steps to induct more faculties and improve the infra, especially when students are made to pay hefty sums of money for SFCs.

Kamala Prasad Mohapatra, an educationist and member of ‘Mo College’, said, “The government has no problems in running SFCs. In fact, the government can gain from it too by providing employment opportunities to students.”

“There are sufficient faculty members in these courses. However, if there is in fact a shortage, then the government should take care of it by analyzing the situation,” he added.

The debate started after Odisha Higher Education department wrote to senior officers, who are in charge of 13 universities in the State, to streamline self-financing courses pm April 17. The department had asked the institutions to refrain from launching any such courses from the ensuing academic year 2022-23.

However, the Odisha Higher Education department made a U-turn by withdrawing the order on Monday.

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