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Pradeep Pattanayak

The Odisha government’s decision to set up a 20 per cent cap on the Self Financing Courses (SFCs) in all State public universities has kicked off a massive controversy with Odisha Chhatra Congress sending out a warning to launch an agitation if the decision isn’t revoked soon. 

Notably, the Governor, who is the Chancellor of all universities, in a letter, has asked all VCs to limit the student strength of all SFCs to 20 per cent of total student strength of all regular courses. 

The Universities have also been asked to implement it from 2022-23 academic year. In this regard, University Syndicates will take a decision in this regard by June 30 after a review. 

However, it has been alleged that the ulterior motive of the government in bringing in such a decision is to do favour to private universities. Odisha Chhatra Congress has said that it sees the entire development as a reflection of the State government currying favour with the private universities. 

At the same time, it has been alleged that the decision, once implemented, will be detrimental to poor but meritorious students who will be deprived of professional courses. 

“If the decision isn’t rolled back within 48 hours, Chhatra Congress will intensify the agitation across the State and will gherao Minister Arun Sahoo’s residence,” warned Chhatra Congress president Yasir Nawaz. 

Registering their dissatisfaction, a student Bidisha Priyadarshini said, “The implementation of restrictions on SFCs will be huge blow to the poor but intelligent students.”

The government’s decision has, however, evoked mixed response.

“There are many SFCs being managed by the regular departments. And the teachers of regular departments don’t have extra time to devote to the SFCs,” said Vice Chancellor of Utkal University Sabita Acharya. 

Aparajita Choudhury, Vice Chancellor of Ramadevi Women’s University, said, “The direction seems to be laying more emphasis on regular courses in the universities. It suggests, the focus has been on improving the quality of regular courses.”

According to educationist Prabodh Panda, the SFCs, running in PPP mode should be regularised. “The fee structure should also be regularised as well. Research and discussion on it is the need of the hour,” said Panda. 
 

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