Kathmandu University (KU), known for its quality education in Nepal, is facing a concerning shortage of students, with more than 200 educational programs having nearly 30% of their total quota of students unenrolled. This has prompted KU to consider postponing some of the programs that are facing severe student shortages, according to Prof. Dr. Bhola Thapa, the Vice-Chancellor of the university.
There are several possible reasons for the decline in enrollment in Nepali universities, including Kathmandu University and other institutions across the country. One significant factor could be the increasing trend of Nepali students opting to study abroad for higher education. Many students aspire to pursue higher education abroad for various reasons, including exposure to international opportunities, access to better facilities and resources, and the perception of better job prospects upon graduation. This trend may have led to a decrease in the number of students opting to enroll in universities in Nepal, resulting in vacant seats in various programs.
Another factor could be the recent proliferation of new universities in Nepal. Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of universities in Nepal. This may have led to increased competition among universities for attracting students, resulting in a decline in enrollment in some institutions. With more options available to students, they may be more selective in their choice of universities, leading to a decrease in enrollment in certain institutions.
Additionally, other factors such as the quality and relevance of programs, admission processes, affordability concerns, and availability of scholarships or financial aid could also be contributing to the decline in enrollment in Nepali universities. Students may prefer to enroll in universities that offer programs that are perceived to be of higher quality, more relevant to the job market, and have better opportunities for scholarships or financial aid. Admission processes that are perceived as complicated or lengthy may also deter potential students from enrolling in certain universities.
Kathmandu University is facing a significant issue of vacant seats in various programs across different disciplines. The data provided by KU shows that many programs are experiencing a significant number of vacant seats, indicating a gap between the available seats and the number of students admitted.
For example, in the Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS) program, out of 30 reserved seats, 22 seats are vacant. Similarly, in the Bachelor of Yogic Science and Wellbeing (BYSW) program, 22 out of 24 seats are vacant with only two students admitted. In the Master in Media Studies (MMS) program, 12 out of 20 seats are vacant. In the Bachelor of Arts in Buddhist Studies program, only four out of 30 seats have been filled. In the Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Management program, 16 out of 30 seats are vacant. In the one-year Master of Arts in English Language Teaching (ELT) program, 12 out of 15 seats are vacant.
The situation is also similar in other programs, such as engineering, business, information science, nursing, and medical programs. For example, in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program, only 78 out of 120 seats are filled. In the Bachelor of Business Information System (BBIS) program, 26 out of 40 seats have been admitted. 13 out of 20 seats are vacant in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.Sc Nursing) programs,, a significant number of seats are vacant. The situation is also similar in programs like Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) and Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).
The impact of declining domestic enrollment at KU has also had repercussions on foreign students. KU has a reserved quota of 10% for foreign students, but meeting this quota has become challenging due to the overall decrease in enrollment. The Vice-Chancellor of KU has expressed concerns that foreign students may be discouraged from choosing Nepal as a study destination due to issues with timely exams and result publication by the Medical Education Commission.
The decline in domestic students at KU may have implications for the diversity and internationalization of the university. Foreign students bring cultural, economic, and intellectual diversity to the campus, enriching the academic experience for all students. They also contribute to the local economy by paying tuition fees, living expenses, and potentially becoming ambassadors for Nepal in their home countries after graduation.
However, the challenges in meeting the 10% quota for foreign students may result in a decrease in the number of international students studying at KU. This could potentially impact the revenue generated from foreign students, as well as the opportunities for cross-cultural learning and exchange among students from different countries.
To address these challenges, it may be important for KU and the Medical Education Commission to work collaboratively to improve the administration of exams and result publication processes, ensuring they are timely and efficient for both domestic and foreign students. This may involve streamlining administrative procedures, enhancing communication and coordination, and investing in necessary infrastructure and resources to support the smooth functioning of these processes.
The trend of Nepali students migrating abroad for higher education has been increasing in recent years. According to estimates, Nepali students spent around 300 billion rupees in a single year to obtain no-objection letters for studying abroad. This indicates that many students are opting to pursue higher education outside of Nepal, seeking better opportunities and quality education abroad.
One significant factor contributing to this trend is the perception of politics affecting universities in Nepal. The prolonged closure of Tribhuvan University for 342 days due to various political reasons has created a misconception among students about the stability and reliability of the higher education system in Nepal. This perception may lead students to prefer foreign-affiliated colleges or studying abroad as they perceive them to be less affected by political disruptions.
The prolonged closure of universities due to political issues can have significant consequences on the education system. It disrupts the academic calendar, delays graduation timelines, affects research and learning opportunities for students, and impacts the overall quality of education. It also erodes the confidence of students and parents in the higher education system, leading to a preference for alternatives such as foreign-affiliated colleges or studying abroad.
The perception of politics affecting universities can also have broader implications for the country's development. Higher education institutions play a crucial role in producing skilled human resources, conducting research, and fostering innovation, which are essential for the socioeconomic progress of a nation. When the functioning of universities is hampered by political disruptions, it can hinder the development of a skilled workforce and impede the growth of the knowledge economy.