Mumbai: Maharashtra proposes 54 new law colleges for MU; educationists worried

These colleges are slotted by Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education and Development (MAHED), the state government body headed by the chief minister Eknath Shinde, in its prospective plan for the university for the upcoming academic year 2023-24.

Musab QaziUpdated: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 11:24 AM IST
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Mumbai: The state government has proposed 112 new colleges, including 54 law schools, to be set up under the University of Mumbai (MU) across Mumbai and Konkan region.

In the state's plan, the city gets the highest number of 29 slots for new colleges - 14 each law colleges and Arts-Science-Commerce colleges, including five night colleges and one institute for Fine Arts, while Thane district is proposed to have 27 new colleges, including 18 law colleges. 

These colleges are slotted by Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education and Development (MAHED), the state government body headed by the chief minister Eknath Shinde, in its prospective plan for the university for the upcoming academic year 2023-24. Earlier this month, the university had sought applications from educational societies to set up these institutes. 

Once approved by the university, these proposals will be sent to the government for further scrutiny and approval. The institutes are required to fulfil the infrastructure and faculty norms before they start enrollment. Being professional education institutes, the law colleges will also need a nod from their apex regulating body Bar Council of India (BCI).

More law aspirants compared to number of seats

The large number of proposals for law colleges under MU, which currently has around 70 affiliated law colleges, reflects the demand for law courses among students. According to data from the state Common Entrance Test (CET) Cell, as many as 44,974 aspirants had registered for admission to 3-year LLB courses offered after graduation, even though there are only around 17,000 seats available for the course in the state. The number of applications for the 5-year LLB course, offered after class 12, stood at 13,845, more than around 11,000 seats for the course. 

"Law is a discipline which concerns everyone, as they find it applicable somewhere or the other. Hence, more and more people are opting for it," said Swati Routela, Head of Law Department at MU.

Legal academicians, experts sound the alarm

However, legal educationists are worried that the law colleges mushrooming in the city and nearby areas lack qualified teachers and rigorous curricula. "The MU colleges' curricula have remained stagnant. Hardly any college offers elective subjects. Before approving these colleges, an assessment must be done about the quality of education and presence of qualified teachers and principals in existing colleges," said a former principal of a city law college.

Mohammed Salim Khan, a city-based legal expert and academician, echoed this sentiment. "The colleges get approval by submitting fake lists of faculty and bribing the officials. But most of them don't have regular principals and only have ad-hoc faculty. They don't provide internships to students or legal aid to citizens, as required by the BCA norms," he said.

However, Routela, while sharing these concerns, defended the proposals for the new colleges. "We need colleges in remote areas, as sometimes students in these areas find it difficult to access colleges in the city. But I do believe that it's the responsibility of the college to appoint teachers and administrative staff. The university has less control over the appointment of teachers in private colleges, especially as the state has stopped funds for appointments. The university merely recommends new institutes, while the approval is granted by the government and BCA," she said.

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