The oldest government-aided architecture college in the city of Pune – the Bharatiya Kala Prasarini Sabha’s College of Architecture – is on the verge of shutting down and the first sign is the restriction on the admission of new students this year. Worried that the college is going to permanently shut down in five years after the current batches graduate, the alumni and staff have been sending letters and petitions to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and Education Minister Vinod Tawde, among others.
However, it is unlikely that they would be getting any relief from these quarters. When queried, Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, who was in the city on Saturday, said he could not intervene in the matter as the Council of Architecture (CoA), which has banned the admission of new students, now comes under the Ministry of Urban Development. The CoA had found that the college didn’t meet certain minimum standards prescribed by it and also reduced the intake capacity of the college for first year admissions to zero, which means that the college can’t admit new students.
While the ban is temporary and can be revoked if the college fulfils certain conditions, such as moving to a larger building and increasing the number of teachers, both staffers as well as alumni are sceptical about whether this is going to happen, as they allege that the college management wants to shut down the institute.
Architect Madhav Joshi, one of the college’s well-known alumnus, said it was set up in 1953 while the CoA was established over two decades later, in 1975. “The minimum standards were prescribed much later. Naturally, the college building doesn’t match up to all the standards. Rather than looking at merely the building, it is more important for the council to look at the legacy of the institute, which has produced some of the best architects in the country. The alumni are today principals of other colleges, or teaching as senior faculty somewhere, and that’s a better measure of excellence,” he said.
College staffers said that as an aided college, the recruitment of teachers is done as per government norms. “Current norms prescribe that only 50 per cent of vacant posts can be filled, so there are attempts by the college to fill these posts with visiting faculty, but the CoA isn’t considering that. We don’t think the management is interested in running this college and hence it won’t fill the vacant posts,” alleged a staffer.
While attempts to reach the management failed, principal Pushkar Kanvinde did admit that it was possible that the college may shut down in the next few years. “Unless the management acts on it, the number of batches will go on reducing. We need intervention from the management or the government. This is only one of the three aided colleges here, our annual fee is INR 24,000 compared to over a lakh in private colleges. The government must consider this and help us,” he said.