Stakeholders, including education officials, vice-chancellors, and deans, gathered at the 'Policy Dialogue on The Need, Challenges and Prospects of Campus Merger' organized by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in Nepal, to address the declining number of students in various university programs. Concerns were raised about the shortage of students in over 42 campuses, with less than 200 students each, including constituent, community, and private colleges.
A total of 624 students were reported in 21 constituent colleges, 218 community colleges, and 345 private colleges, each with less than 100 students. Additionally, 21 campuses had less than 200 students, while 121 community colleges, 135 private colleges, and 29 campuses had less than 500 students. On the other hand, there were a total of 231 campuses, including 69 constituent, 70 community, and 92 private colleges, with more than 500 students.
In light of the declining student numbers, stakeholders emphasized the need for merging campuses with similar geographical distances and programs to increase access to quality education and promote economic sustainability, competitiveness, and self-reliance among higher education providers. However, merging campuses with different objectives, conditions, and interests may pose challenges, including resistance due to loss of institutional leadership and the need to convince and motivate various groups about the merger.
The UGC Chairman, Prof Dr Devraj Adhikari, revealed that the university grants commission has initiated discussions with the Ministry of Education, officials from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Purbanchal University, and Nepal Sanskrit University, and reached a preliminary agreement to merge the campuses.
As stakeholders continue to address the declining student numbers in various university programs, the merger of campuses is being explored as a potential solution to ensure sustainable and quality higher education in Nepal.