SNDT University Leads The Way With 82 New Women's Colleges Among 264 New Institutions

SNDT University Leads The Way With 82 New Women's Colleges Among 264 New Institutions

The V-C of SNDT Women’s University highlighted the existing challenges and how the institution plans to navigate them with the government’s support.

Megha ChowdhuryUpdated: Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 01:03 PM IST
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Ujwala Chakradeo, VC of SNDT Women's University | Official

Mumbai: Maharashtra is set to have 264 new colleges affiliated with 13 non-agricultural state universities starting from the academic year 2024-25. These institutions are slated to commence operations in the academic year 2024-25, according to a government resolution (GR) issued on Feb 17.

Notably, 82 of the approved colleges are exclusively for women, and they will be affiliated with the well-known Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University in Mumbai.

The Free Press Journal (FPJ) spoke to Professor Ujwala Chakradeo, the vice-chancellor of SNDT Women's University in Mumbai, to learn why there is still a pressing need for new women's institutions in India to raise the girls' gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education.

Women’s empowerment 

Citing societal barriers that hinder women's career growth and leadership opportunities, Chakradeo said, “Despite advancements in technology and changes in the way women live, societal thought processes have not evolved much. While more women are pursuing education and jobs, there is still a disparity between job opportunities and the freedom to build a career of their own choice.”

“For example, look at the leadership roles in education, such as the position of a vice-chancellor; 98% of vice-chancellors in India are male and only 2% are women. It remains predominantly occupied by men, reflecting the need for more opportunities for women.”

Geographic distribution and strategic planning

The University of Mumbai, a key stakeholder in this development, had submitted 17 proposals, of which the government greenlit 14. The proposed colleges are set to be established in various locations, including Chembur, Dahisar, Thane, Palghar, Raigarh, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg districts, thereby expanding educational opportunities across urban and rural areas.

In response to queries regarding the selection of locations and whether women's colleges are more needed in rural areas than in urban settings like Mumbai, Chakradeo stressed that the roles may differ, but the requirements are equal. 

“We are aiming to educate more female students across the state. We select a location considering the number of girls enrolled in the schools there and we decide on new age courses as per the requirement of local industries.”

In August last year, the Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education and Development passed a five-year (2024-29) perspective plan for non-agricultural universities. It approved 1,499 locations where new colleges could be started. The approval for 264 new colleges is part of that five-year plan.

The new colleges will offer courses in humanities, commerce, and science. As per the GR, the new colleges’ management must start their education activities before Jan 31, 2025

Challenges and opportunities

Despite the challenge of starting educational activities this academic year coupled with the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), Chakradeo expressed confidence in SNDT University's ability to navigate these challenges.

“These sanctioned colleges will be offering courses that have already been approved by the university, and for good reason. For these courses, the university has prepared a comprehensive curriculum of its own. All we will be doing is transferring their curriculum. The next session will begin in June 2024 after we take them through an orientation and provide them with operational guidance,” she said. 

Evolving infrastructure

Chakradeo claims that the university is set to receive significant financial support, including Rs 100 crore from the Central Government for infrastructure development and Rs 447 crore from the state government for the Chandrapur campus catering to tribal areas.

“This financial commitment covers software development, digitisation efforts, and the incorporation of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies,” she highlighted. 

“Furthermore, efforts extend to the Palghar campus, addressing the educational needs of tribal girls who face challenges in accessing education outside their communities. SNDT University is committed to offering STEM courses and technological programs to empower students and bridge the educational gap in underserved areas,” Chakradeo added.

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