Maharashtra Govt Foists 15 New Law Colleges Despite Mumbai University's Opposition

Maharashtra Govt Foists 15 New Law Colleges Despite Mumbai University's Opposition

MU had decided against allowing new law colleges as it's already struggling to manage paper assessment and result declaration at the existing 70-odd institutes under its jurisdiction

Musab QaziUpdated: Friday, February 16, 2024, 10:28 PM IST
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Mumbai University | File photo

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has granted its initial approval to start 15 new law colleges under the University of Mumbai (MU) in the upcoming academic year 2024-25, even though the varsity doesn't want to add even a single new law school.

On Thursday, the government came out with the list of new higher education institutes proposed to be set up across the state. the list includes 37 institutes - 22 traditional Arts-Science-Commerce and 15 new law colleges - that will come up in the city and other region under MU's jurisdiction. The government has issued letters of intent (LoIs) to the parent organisations of the proposed colleges, which will receive final approval after meeting various academic and infrastructure norms.

The approvals for the law colleges are surprising as they have come in the face of a clear opposition from the varsity administration. Of 17 proposals for new colleges sent by MU to the state government, 16 were for traditional colleges, one for a special teacher training institute and none for law school. This was despite the university receiving 22 proposals for law colleges in the current approval cycle, all of which were rejected by the varsity's management council. However, the chief minister-led Maharashtra State Commission for Higher Education and Development (MAHED), the top body for college approvals in the state, decided to green light 15 of those rejected proposals.

MU's struggle to manage paper assessment, result declaration

MU had decided against allowing new law colleges as it's already struggling to manage paper assessment and result declaration at the existing 70-odd institutes under its jurisdiction. Most of the law colleges lack regular faculty, including principals, which is affecting their quality of education, believe varsity officials.

"The evaluation of law tests has always been an uphill task due to an acute shortage of teachers in the colleges. We are simply unable to get faculty for these institutes. Most don't have approved principals, while only two of them have been accredited. There's no point in adding new institutes if we can't manage the existing ones," said a top varsity official.

Aim towards better employment opportunities to students

The university has been eager to set up vocational education institutes in place of traditional and technical colleges, believing that these colleges will offer better employment opportunities to students. In its perspective plan for 2024-25, the university had provided only 17 slots for new colleges, 16 of which were skill institutes and one was traditional Arts-Science-Commerce institutes. There was no provision for any new law college.

However, MAHED, in its final perspective plan, rejected all these proposals and replaced them with 66 different slots - 21 of them for law schools, one for a special teacher training institute, one for a design institute and the remaining 43 for Arts-Science-Commerce colleges. The state's plan stands in contrast with the higher and technical education minister Chandrakant Patil's earlier assertion that the government wouldn't permit any new college that offers only the traditional programmes. He had also emphasised the need to encourage employment-oriented policy.

The university official suggested that educational organisations appear to favour law colleges over skill-based courses due to the perceived popularity of the former. "These organisations need to be made aware that the future is skills. This is where the jobs will come from. The legal field on the other hand has reached saturation," they said.

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