Panel calls for halting college affiliation until new federal and provincial university Acts are in place


The Kathmandu Post

Jan 13, 2019 -A government-formed panel of experts has recommended halting affiliations to private and community colleges until federal and provincial university Acts are in place.

The panel led by Dev Raj Adhikari, member-secretary at the University Grants Commission, a government entity overseeing university education, has recommended formulation of laws on time for demarcating the jurisdictions of provincial and federal governments on university education.

According to Schedule 9 of the Constitution of Nepal, university education comes under the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments.

With the federal parliament yet to introduce an umbrella law on university education, provinces too are yet to pass their laws, a lack of which has created confusion over the process of granting affiliation to private and community colleges.

According to the constitution, jurisdiction of the two tiers of government on university education needs to be defined by laws.

The panel has concluded that haphazard affiliations could lead to deterioration in quality of education, as is evident in a number of cases already.

Adhikari said it is high time that measures were taken for reforming university education. “We have to first assess the standard of existing constituent and affiliated colleges before adding new ones,” he told the Post. 

“University education can only improve if constituent colleges perform better.”

Constituent colleges are those which are run directly by a university. The annual report of the commission shows there are 1,271 colleges affiliated to 13 different universities and deemed universities while their constituent colleges number hardly 98. A deemed university has the autonomy for running own programmes.

Tribhuvan University, the country’s largest, has 1,123 affiliated campuses while it runs around 60 constituent colleges. The panel says more colleges mean difficulty in effective monitoring, which will ultimately lead to deterioration in the quality of education.

The expert panel has also called for barring universities from affiliating any programmes they don’t run in their constituent colleges.

The Lumbini Buddhist University, for instance, was found to have permitted private colleges to run programmes under the science stream, even though it doesn’t offer the course in its constituent colleges.

The Adhikari-led panel has also recommended barring colleges from registering as companies. Currently, private and community colleges are registered under the Company Act. The panel has advised the government to incorporate a provision in the yet-to-be-formulated university Acts so as to covert the colleges into service-oriented firms instead of companies.

“We have also suggested that the government stop permissions for running colleges with affiliation from foreign universities,” Adhikari said, adding that the government has been permitting colleges to be affiliated to foreign universities without even evaluating the status of such universities.

According to the Ministry of Education, there are around 95 institutions with international educational affiliations, including A Level courses. The number of colleges providing international bachelor and master degrees stands at 54. These colleges are providing university education in affiliation or partnership with universities from the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India.