In a recent decision by the Cabinet, the Government of Nepal has given its approval for the creation of a new university, Sahid Dashrath Chand University of Health Sciences. This decision comes despite reservations from the National Planning Commission and the Policy Research Institute, who had called for a thorough needs assessment before launching another university.
The government’s initial plan was to establish a medical college in Kailali, fulfilling its commitment to have at least one public medical school in each province. However, following local protests in June, the government changed its course and decided to establish a university instead of a medical college. This move would increase the number of federal universities to 14.
Kamal Krishna Joshi, a former chairperson of the University Grants Commission, expressed his concerns, stating that “while specialized universities have their place, it’s crucial to assess the actual need for a separate medical university in the Far West. He emphasized the importance of delivering quality education and ensuring job opportunities for graduates rather than simply increasing the number of universities.
Joshi also stressed the necessity of conducting a proper needs assessment, establishing clarity in funding, and defining the administrative structure before adding a new university.
The University Grants Commission’s consent is required to formulate the law for the establishment of a new university. Dev Raj Adhikari, the commission’s chairperson, confirmed their approval for the new medical university, although this decision contradicts the commission’s own recommendation.
A high-level task force at the commission had previously recommended that new universities should be added only after conducting a needs assessment and developing objective criteria. The task force, led by Pushpa Raman Wagle, a member of the National Planning Commission, also suggested the formulation of an umbrella law to guide government decisions on higher education.
Despite these recommendations, the government proceeded with the establishment of a new university, showing its determination to do so as a state agency.
A report by the Policy Research Institute highlighted the impracticality of establishing new universities when existing ones were struggling to function effectively. The report pointed out issues such as poor management and low enrollment in universities, including Tribhuvan University, Lumbini Buddhist University, and Nepal Sanskrit University.
The government’s efforts to diversify and decentralize higher education have led to the establishment of several new universities in recent years. While this expansion aims to provide more educational opportunities, concerns remain about the quality of education and the management of these institutions.
In summary, the government’s decision to approve a new university has raised questions about the need for additional institutions and the importance of conducting thorough assessments before making such decisions. Experts emphasize the importance of delivering quality education and ensuring that new universities serve the best interests of students and the broader community.