IGNOU does away with community college scheme

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 26 2013, 21:57pm hrs
Almost a year after it decided to have a relook at the community college scheme, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) on Wednesday decided to do away with the scheme completely based on non-performance of these colleges.

The university had close to 620 community colleges- catering to more than 80,000 students- of which 88 were deregistered two years ago because of non-performance.

The existing community college scheme is not strictly covered under the provisions of IGNOU. It, therefore, stands discontinued and the students admitted till January 2012, shall be allowed to complete their programmes of studies, said a notification dated July 22.

On Wednesday, the university wrote to 146 colleges- where 32,134 students had taken the exams but their results are pending- asking them do declare the results soon.

Earlier this week, the Delhi High Court ruled that IGNOU has no legal authority either to set up or accord recognition to an institution or college to impart face-to-face regular education.

In fact, while the entire university has 300 programmes with 1,800 courses, these 146 community colleges had more than 950 programmes with 8,300 courses.

The community colleges were not going the way they should have. Moreover, it is not our mandate to offer face-to-face programmes except some orientations which are done face face-to-face here, said M Aslam, IGNOU's vice chancellor.

The IGNOU community college scheme was started in 2009 and meant primarily for the underprivileged sections of the society to reach out to formal education. Under this scheme, a community college could register for offering academic programmes at the levels of certificate, diploma and associate degree. After successfully completing the study through this scheme, a student is certified by IGNOU and also gets placed.

The university's board of management said that students in the community colleges fall under three categories- who have taken their exams but awaiting results, those whose exams are yet to be conducted and declaration of results of armed forces community colleges.

For students who have taken their exams and whose answer sheets were evaluated but did not conform to the norms, will get grade cards and provisional certificates from the university. On the other hand, the Student Evaluation Division will conduct exams for those students whose exams have not been conducted till now.

The notification added that the armed forces community colleges had followed all procedures.

The colleges were going haywire and people were not co-operating. There is a lacuna in the way these are operated, said Pardeep Sahni, nodal officer, community colleges, IGNOU.

In fact, in 2012, the university had setup a high powered committee for convergence of the community colleges which had suggested that the community college scheme fits well with IGNOU's mandate for skill development.

Even though IGNOU has decided to discontinue with the scheme, the ministry of human resource development plans to start 200 community colleges from next year and then scale up gradually and states have been requested to identify local skill requirements linked to local needs which could form the basis of opening community colleges.

Besides, even the industry has recognised the need for having more community colleges. According to report by TeamLease Services, the country's training capacity of 3.1 million per annum relative to 12.8 million annual new entrants to the workforce has increased unorganized labour and low income groups.

"We must create a mezzanine layer of community colleges for higher education that offers two year associate degrees with multiple delivery vehicles and with employers at the heart of curriculum. These community colleges will be constituent colleges of state or central vocational universities set up under appropriate regulatory frameworks, said Manish Sabharwal, chairman, TeamLease Services