Located about 120 kilometres from the city, Mahabaleshwar –, which served as the summer capital of Bombay province during the British Raj – is a popular getaway for newlyweds. But, now the hill station is about to become the setting of an academic brainstorming session.
University of Pune (UoP) has decided to organise a workshop for about 300 principals and directors from various affiliated institutions from February 15-17 at the holiday resort. The varsity is expected to spend around Rs 18 lakh on the exercise. However, some officials have questioned the need for holding the workshop in Mahabaleshwar, which doesn’t come under the varsity’s jurisdiction, when the lush green UoP campus with spacious auditoriums would be adequate for the purpose.
Every year the university reserves a part of its annual budget for orientation workshops either for its governing body members or teachers-principals of colleges. UoP has 618 affiliated colleges in Pune, Ahmadnagar and Nashik districts.
“This workshop is limited only to approved principals and directors. In many colleges, the principals are working on a contractual basis. So after excluding them, around 300 principals and directors will participate in this workshop,” said Nandkumar Nikam, chairperson of principals’ forum, who has fixed the venue for the event.
When asked about the expenses required for the workshop and whether any registration fees was to be collected from participants, Nikam replied, “We are not charging any of them, as the university has provision for such workshops. According to estimates, we will spend around Rs 2,000 per day on each participant per day.”
While justifying the venue he said, “If we arrange the event on UoP’s campus, many principals prefer to do their routine pending work rather than attending the workshop. That’s why we have chosen Mahabaleshwar, where all members can concentrate on the agenda of the seminar.”
The varsity’s Board of College and University Development’s (BCUD) planning and development department is looking after the preparations, and all principals and directors have been requested to confirm their participation for the Mahabaleshwar workshop to the head of this division.
When contacted the BCUD director Dr VB Gaikwad said, “The department is only overseeing the registration process and arrangement of lectures by experts in this seminar. We have no role in selection of the venue. The vice-chancellor is the final authority for approving location and funds concerning outstation workshops.”
Meanwhile, senior professor of SP College and chairperson of Pune University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) Hema More said, “Though the university reserves adequate funds for such orientation workshops, there is no point in organising it at hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. On the one hand, UoP is changing its norms through which it can curb grants handed out to affiliated colleges, and here lakhs of rupees are being spent on workshops, which will not have any set results.”
“UoP has many big auditoriums. Besides that, any college in the city can easily make available a hall for the proposed principals’ workshop. Then why are the organisers feeling the need to go to Mahabaleshwar by spending UoP’s funds, which can be used for other useful activities?” she asked.