Almost 24 years after St Albert’s College allowed Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) to set up a study centre in the campus as part of its social outreach programme, the college has suddenly asked Ignou to move out causing inconvenience to over 4,000 students who are studying nearly 50 courses at the centre.“The college management, in a letter, informed that they would like to stop the study centre at the college. When we sent several letters requesting them to reconsider the decision, they wrote a letter stating that no Ignou activity will be taken up at the centre from January 1, 2017,” said M Rajesh, regional director, Ignou regional centre, Kochi.
However, St Albert’s authorities claimed that with autonomy, their range of activities had increased and it was difficult for them to accommodate Ignou. “With the college getting autonomy, the workload of teachers and staff have increased and it is not possible for us to run the study centre at the campus,” said St Albert’s college manager Fr Antony Arackal.
But this is not entirely true as the college rarely shared its teaching and nonteaching staff with Ignou.The classes and lab for students enrolled at Ignou are conducted on Saturday and Sunday. “With college readying a major expansion plan, it is not possible to share facilities,” said a college staff.
The Ignou centre ran ex clusive and popular courses like BA and MA in psychology that attracted many students every year, besides BSc in physics, chemistry and life sciences. While every year, nearly 500 students enrol for BA psychology at the centre, almost 300 students opt for BSc chemistry, physics and life sciences.
“We have now requested Sacred Heart College, Thevara, to take up BSc in phy sics, chemistry and life sciences programmes and are awaiting a response. It is a logistic nightmare for us. We are trying to accommodate students at the nearest possible centre,” said Rajesh.
Already June admissions at the college’s centre have been stalled and students who had joined in January 2016 will be allowed to attend classes till December 31.
Ignou authorities admit that they can’t start the course anywhere as they have to maintain quality, ensure good teachers and labs for the courses. “We are now also looking at self-financing colleges affiliated to a university.But, the issue of rent is a problem as we don’t provide rent. We only align with institutions that have a social orientation,” added Rajesh.
The MoU entered between IGNOU and colleges is such that the college will provide space to set up a study centre free of cost. Ignou pays an average sum of Rs 1,000 per month as power and water charges. Also Rs 10 per student per hour is paid for usage of college computer besides Rs 550 per student for using science lab for 15 days.