Pune colleges fail to create separate counselling cells

After four student suicides in one and half years, the varsity had directed them to form the cells to prevent such incidents

In a telling comment about the concern of colleges towards the well-being of students, not even one institute has followed the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s (SPPU) directive from almost two months ago, to form a separate cell to counsel students. About 700 colleges are affiliated to the varsity. The directive was given after there were four suicides over the past one and half years in educational institutes in the city.

Fergusson College
Drawing a blank? Fergusson College principal Ravindra Pardeshi said he does not remember any circular from SPPU about the issue. Pic/ Shashank Sane

Two suicides were at the College of Engineering and one was at the Government Polytechnic. The fourth was at Indian Law Society’s Law College. Though the first two institutes are not affiliated to SPPU, against the backdrop of the rising instances of student suicides, in April 2014, a special meeting was held by the Student Welfare Department (SWD) of SPPU under chairmanship of vice-chancellor Dr W N Gade. A decision was taken that every college should have a separate cell which deals with students’ issues.

When it was seen that nothing had been done, in September 2014 SWD recalled the minutes of the meeting and sent circulars to principals of all affiliated colleges.

The circular reads: ‘The meeting held on April 3, 2014 under chairmanship of V-C W N Gade, discussed various ways to curb increasing instances of students’ suicide. According to it, every college at its own level, should form a separate platform by its principal, and ensure that all students receive counselling from experts to ensure no student can take the extreme step of ending his or her life.’

However, even after almost two months of this circular, SWD has no information about how many colleges have formed these cells.

“We have not yet gathered data from colleges. So we don’t have information about how many colleges have formed these cells,” a senior official of SWD said.

Fergusson College principal Ravindra Pardeshi said, “I don’t remember any such circular from SPPU. We do conduct various drives to spread awareness among students. But we don’t have any separate dedicated cell to deal with student suicides.”
A 19-year-old first year law student studying in Indian Law Society’s Law College, affiliated to SPPU, had committed suicide in January 2014. Expecting this college to have followed the varsity’s directives, when mid-day contacted principal Vaijayanti Joshi, she said, “I have to check this. I will let you know by tomorrow. Though college doesn’t have a separate cell, for the last eight years it has been providing counselling facility to all students. We have appointed special counsellors who visit the college twice a week and students can visit them to share and resolve their problems.”

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