Protesting students allege these private colleges will churn out students who will ruin the job market in the agricultural sector.

Ktaka students protest against proposed privatisation of agricultural colleges
news Protests Monday, June 25, 2018 - 22:20

The protest by hundreds of students at University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) campuses across Karnataka against the proposed privatisation of agriculture education in the state, entered its 14th day on Monday. 

More than 500 students raised slogans and put picket signs outside the administrative building at the Gandhi Krishi Vignana Kendra (GKVK) campus in Bengaluru.  

The protesting students have missed classes and exams, including supplementary exams. The protesters range from first year undergraduates to PhD students.

One of the main reasons for the protest is the upcoming board meeting of the UAS at the GKVK campus on July 11.

The board meeting will seek to finally approve the affiliation of private agricultural colleges in the state. Protesting students allege these private colleges will churn out students who will ruin the job market in the agricultural sector. Thus, protracted demonstrations have been ongoing since June 13 across the state.

Praveen HG, a PhD student in Bengaluru, told TNM, “We are protesting in order to close private agricultural colleges. We also want to get an amendment made for the 2009 Agricultural Universities Act. Strict action must be taken against private universities.”

Praveen says that students in private agricultural universities are not there because of merit, but “purely due to management quota.” He goes on to say, “They [private universities] are looting and playing with the lives of students.”

The state government has taken notice of the protests. Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy met with the protesting students last week and promised action on the issue, although none has been forthcoming yet.

Students across campuses in GKVK, Dharwad, Raichur, Shivamogga, Hassan, and Mandya have continued their protests into this week.

Action taken by the University

UAS has issued notices to protesting students’ parents about the action after alleged pressure from the government. The contents of the messages, according to a government source, are: “If the students do not resume normal academic activities, then we will resume classes and exams on 25th as scheduled. If students do not attend, the colleges will be closed.”

The university seems to have taken a firm stance against the protesters, although a student says that the faculty are on their side. The Registrar of UAS Bangalore, AB Patil, has said, “None of the students have attended the exams, not even those who were writing supplementary exams. A meeting will be held by the Vice Chancellor and we will discuss whether to reschedule the exams.”

A source said over 500-600 students attended a protest at GKVK this morning, and they say that there are only 2,500 agricultural science students across the state. This would mean a significant number of protesters for the university and colleges to deal with.

No practical experience

One of the principal allegations of the agitators is that students from private universities will not have practical experience, and it will thus reduce the quality of agricultural research in Karnataka.

Praveen says, “For every 60 students at an agricultural university, there should be 75 acres of land, complete with field facilities, labs and faculty. What [private universities] have is merely infrastructure in the form of buildings. 1,000 -1,500 students graduate each year with no practical experience and they dilute the job market for all of us honest students. They will be useless to farmers in our state.”

A Change.org petition by Ramesha V about the issue already has 5,000 signatures. The petition alleges that students from rural backgrounds, who have studied with merit, will be denied jobs in public sector and they will lose the opportunity to serve the farming community if more private universities are allowed in Karnataka.

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