Universities in Kerala in crisis as state defaults on payment of installment

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Thrissur: Other universities in the state are also following the path set by Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) that is mortgaging land to pay off debts and start new courses. The crisis started in the universities when one installment of the state’s allocated funds was not granted.

The government informed that it is unable to pay the 12th installment that was due in March due to the state’s ongoing financial crisis. The order issued by the government said that this amount would be adjusted in the next year’s plan. As this became controversial, the order was cancelled and a revised order given in August seeking recommendations on recovering the unpaid arrears. Though recommendations were submitted, no money has yet been received. With this, the financial crisis worsened.

KAU suffered a deficit of Rs 33.98 crore due to the non-receipt of the installment. The financial crisis hit Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) paid this month’s salary only on September 11. Most universities with similar fates are worried about how to carry on operations. There also exists a fear that a tranche may be cut at the end of this financial year as the government's finances are further deteriorating.

Central funds made available to universities and aided colleges under the PM-USHA (Pradhan Mantri Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan) scheme may also be suspended. Allocation of funds under the PM-USHA is based on the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) and the universities in Kerala are lagging behind in this.

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The number of universities funded under the PM-USHA scheme are limited. The universities that implement the NEP first and have the best rankings are given preference. There is also a looming concern that due to non-implementation of the NEP, many universities in Kerala are in danger of being relegated from the list.

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