At Rs. 599 Crore, India Spends Rs 3.23 Lakh Annually To Educate One Jamia Student; In Return, What Does Nation Get? 

by Anurag Singh - Dec 21, 2019 07:00 AM
At Rs. 599 Crore, India Spends Rs 3.23 Lakh Annually To Educate One Jamia Student; In Return, What Does Nation Get? Protest by Jamia students (@rajshekhartoi/Twitter)
Snapshot
  • Jamia Millia Islamia has about 18,500 students.

    2003 students are under Ph.D.

    Pass percentage? 76 amongst men and 62 for women

    Average time taken to finish doctoral research: 8 years.

    Annual expenditure: Rs 599 crore

    Maximum papers published with: Saudi Arabia.

    International institute of eminence?

Why are the students of Jamia protesting? Valid question. I will not attempt a political commentary that mainstream media is already immersed into. A more critical question is to explore this — why do students get so much time and energy to protest on matters that do not impact them in any way?

My last article on JNU ( Anurag Singh's answer to What is your opinion on the government's decision on increasing the fees of eminent universities like JNU and DU?) tried to connect the dots on the overall lack of accountability of students to their own careers, a general misdirection of energy, absence of realism on current economic issues and the low fee structure that creates total absence of urgency to do anything productive for the society.

The Jamia protests provoked me to explore the same for the university, with almost similar results. Probably worse. Let’s see the facts and you can decide.

Basics first. Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) has about 18,500 students in college level courses. Here is the breakup. Notice the 2003 students under Ph.D. This is almost 50 per cent of the overall PG course strength. This is disproportionately high for any university. This is supported by a teaching faculty of 729.

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

With a reputation of a ‘premier varsity’ amongst the minorities, it should attract the best and the brightest, I assume. The results, however, indicate a different story. As much as 76 per cent pass percentage amongst men and 62 pass percentage for women is shocking. See the pass percentage below:

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

This, for a “premier” varsity, is hardly anything to shout about. Even then, however, I thought I may be misreading the data. So I tried to uncover more information on how this looks subject-wise. As usual, the rot lies in the humanities and social sciences section. See below that the pass percentage of regular students in humanities is less than 50 per cent in some cases.

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

So, how are our Ph.D scholars doing? Protests aside, the results speak louder than words.

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

Did I get this right? So with this rate, an average Ph.D student takes 7.6 years to complete the doctoral research! With the limited experience I have about education, 7.6 years for a Ph.D is obscene. More so in a poor country like ours. Are they doing some special research? Let’s explore.

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

We see a total of 921 publications from the campus in 2017-18. With a faculty count of 729 and 2,000 doctoral scholars, this is a 0.33 papers-per-person for faculty and Ph.Ds combined. How about a national protest for this?

Now, the output can’t be looked at without the cost that goes in. This brings us to the income statement of the varsity. Notice the grants and subsidies by the government here. With a total spends of Rs 599 crore, JMI spends Rs 3.23 lakh per student annually. Can we afford such a waste of resources? On a 60-72 pass percentage basis?

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

This is not all. Here is the data about collaborative research papers published by JMI. I noticed something interesting. A majority of the papers have been published in collaboration with varsities of Saudi Arabia!

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

I’m not surprised. In the name of “international” students, Jamia has 161 students from Afghanistan, 25 from Iran, 10 from Palestine and the rest in low single digits (except Nepal).

Does education mean embracing a global outlook or is about just confining oneself to a particular school of thought?

Finally, The Protest That Is Making News.

With a pass percentage of less than 70 and 2,000 Ph.D scholars taking 7.6 years for research, I see that there is ample time to protest on “national issues”. Education and outcomes can wait, so can the enlightenment that comes with the right education. I doubt how many have even read what the CAB Bill contains, let alone understand it.

Many claim that the students were engaged in a “peaceful” protest and it was outsiders who threw stones or burned buses.

Same old story when JNU students claimed innocence about anti-India slogans, blaming it on “outsiders”. How come other universities don’t get endowments from such external elements? Why do students at select campuses allow the university premises to be misused by “outsiders” ?

If This Is Being Fed In The Name Of Education, I Protest!

Meanwhile, there is a debate on who started the violence in campus and whether the police acted out of their remit in controlling it. I saw an interesting piece of information in the JMI report. The campus has 217 CCTV cameras, with locations as below. The below table indicates that cameras cover everything that there is to monitor at the varsity. So why the fuss about how and who started the violence.

Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.
Reference: JMI University website and annual reports.

Let’s see if the 217 CCTV cameras can solve the puzzle of who started the violence. I’m waiting!

Jamia students, can we stop the politics and have the CCTV footage, please? It is your university after all. Own up!

The analysis was published by the author on his Twitter handle and has been republished here with prior permission.

Anurag, an alumnus of IIM Lucknow, has over 15 years of experience in banking, insurance and investing.


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