Mushrooming of Private University In Sikkim, Matter of Concern

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Country’s engineers may figure among the most powerful CEOs in the world, but the state’s university degree has lost its sheen over the years. According to a survey conducted by our Team, an employability assessment company, 70 percent of Sikkim’s degree holders are unemployable for any job in the knowledge economy. Notably, the citizens stated that a greater number of private institutions have been mushrooming in Sikkim, be it for degrees or skills.

During the boom of Manipal’s Distance Learning, some private universities eyes to enter in Sikkim. However, these institutes lacked an updated curriculum and focused on non-existent linkages with the industry, resulting in a poor student-faculty ratio. Except for SMU and NITs, these new universities failed to make their students job-ready. According to a recent report, M.Com students applied for Group D level jobs where the minimum qualification required is not more than a Class 12 passing certificate in the Sikkim Government.

The state experienced great placement when Diploma Institute was taking the lead until 2015, and the state didn’t witness any diploma technical university rising as it was booming in states like Tamil Nadu. Many institutions were planning to set up during that period to cater to this need, and Sikkim did reap benefits by supplying IT/Automobile knowledge workers to companies across India like Maruti/Honda/Tata before 2015.

While the rest of Indian Private University focuses on advertising to attract students from Sikkim, many went to Assam and Himachal to study Medical & Nursing. Dental education was booming in the southern part of India.

Former HRD secretary Ashok Thakur in 2019 noted that the issue was debated several times in AICTE, and the consensus was that it would not be legally correct to impose a blanket ban on setting up new institutions. “The state governments were taken on board on this, and their views differed from one another. It was thought that such issues cannot be regulated artificially and are best left to be decided by market forces, with the survival of the best performers.”

Sikkim has only two engineering universities – SMIT and NITs – and one medical university – SMIMS. SMIT is the oldest one which used to have great placement. Leaving aside the top engineering universities, the rest of the universities in Sikkim struggle to provide placements. In other institutions, the teaching-learning process is predominantly theoretical in the name of skill. Their curriculum is not aligned with the needs of the industry or society. The recent report found that only 40 percent of engineering graduates end up doing an internship, and 36 percent take up any projects beyond coursework. “There is a lack of faculty talking about the industry application of concepts in class or students getting exposure through industry talks. These need to be remedied by aligning the incentives of all stakeholders, building capacity, and gamification.”

Talking about skill development, there are a number of reasons skill development in Sikkim has not been able to achieve success in its objective. First, there is a huge gap in good-quality training infrastructure and a lack of holistic skills, which makes it challenging for individuals to upgrade their skills according to the market demand in India.

In Sikkim, mostly people who have pushed themselves into entrepreneurship have also failed to create jobs in the market. Some who have created a base in Sikkim have left for another state for a decent job leaving entrepreneurship. Tourism doesn’t benefit locals because students who have studied the tourism sector fail to enter into the tourism business. About 60-70 Percentage students who completed graduation between 2020-2022 are still looking for decent jobs and are also depending on getting government jobs before 2024 election.

Despite having a large number of pharmaceutical and hydro power industries and a tourism sector, Sikkim still fails to solve the unemployment issue in the long term.

Sikkim needs to focus on the quality of education with campuses and improving government institutions or universities first, rather than approving many private universities that can degrade the quality of education.

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