Vikash Sharma

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has framed draft guidelines for the promotion of physical fitness, sports, students' health, welfare, psychological and emotional well-being at Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) across the country.

The guidelines have been framed to address the issues and challenges arising out of stress among the students. The move is also aimed at safeguarding students against academic pressure, peer-pressure, behavioural issues, stress, career concerns, depression and other issues pertaining to mental health.

Draft Guidelines:

Students Services Centre (SSC): Every HEI shall have a Students Services Centre (SSC) responsible for dealing with and managing the problems related to stress and emotional adjustment.

The SSC must have necessary resources like competent physical and mental health counsellors, physical and mental health experts, and physical /physio-psychological assessment tools to inform the students, assess them, guide them and provide necessary counselling interventions to make them feel enabled, energised and independent functionaries capable of pursuing their career goals.

The SSC will work as a single-window system to address relevant student issues.

Physical Fitness:

HEIs must focus on physical activities for all students so as to help them stay physically fit and mentally healthy. Physical activity programs and provisions: The HEIs need to nurture an atmosphere in which students are asked to be physically active.

The NSS and NCC and other avenues to engage students meaningfully should be strengthened. The HEIs need to create the necessary outdoor and indoor sports facilities and infrastructure on the campus. The student hostels too should be equipped with minimum facilities for the students.

Learning of a set of yogic asanas with forward bending, backward bending, sideward bending and twisting of spine should be promoted among all the students of HEIs. Likewise, pranayama with heart-based meditation should also be initiated among the students.

Other Highlights:

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) may consider to assign certain points/grades for provisions of SSCs in HEIs. The records of various activities of SSC must be maintained properly and be made available to NAAC, NIRF etc. as and when asked for.

HEIs and SSCs must ensure confidentiality of each case of student-teacher counselling on mental health issues. Motivational lectures and other activities promoting positive thinking among the students should be regularly organised by the HEIs. The course(s) on mental health may be included in the curriculum with some credits to be assigned for successful completion of the course.