Jai Mohan Pandit
A vibrant campus life in higher education institutions (HEIs) encourages active engagement, collaboration, and creativity among students, staff and faculty. Enabling a vibrant campus life goes beyond academics; it shapes individuals into well-rounded, socially conscious, and adaptable societal contributors while enriching their educational experience.
The National Education Policy 2020 has recommended a holistic approach to campus life because it can support the coherent and integrated development of people’s intellectual, physical, social, and emotional capacities. This requires collaboration from all university stakeholders.
Faculty and staff: At the professional level, faculty and staff experience increasing stress due to funding/budget constraints, the pressure to publish papers, limited or lack of professional development opportunities and recognition, and the lack of a collaborative environment.
Administrative issues include heavy workloads, growing administrative tasks, frequent institutional changes, and interacting with a diverse student and faculty base.
HEIs can reduce or eliminate these problems by focusing on different aspects. For example, faculty members can enhance their skills by attending development programs and crash courses on technological advancements, managing student stress and comprehending the needs of a diverse student population. Collaborative work and cross-fertilisation can be promoted by inviting faculty from other reputable institutions.
In order to achieve the goal of campus vitality, it is imperative to involve and encourage the professional, administrative and technical staff by valuing and acknowledging their efforts.
Students: Students from diverse social and economic backgrounds attend HEIs, where opportunities for participation in academic and extracurricular activities provide a sense of belonging.
Academic life often involves family expectations and financial constraints, leading to psychological stress. Students also face the challenge of coping with technological advances and the pressure to perform well academically. Counselling and cultural exposure can assist students in mentally preparing for academic surroundings. Students’ involvement in extracurricular activities can be increased by offering workshops on time management and academic achievement. Financial aid can ease financial concerns.
Support staff: HEIs employ many support staff, such as canteen staff, housekeeping staff, gardeners, electricians, and security officers. Support staff are inundated with long hours of mundane, repetitive work or work involving physical labour. Work of this nature offers little scope for career growth.
Inadequate resources and training compound this problem. A stagnant career and low pay suck away the enthusiasm among auxiliary and service staff.
Poor communication and lack of recognition lead to low morale and dissatisfaction on the job. Safety concerns are another contributing factor. Suitable recognition programmes, adequate training to perform mundane tasks efficiently, and resource access can bring confidence among administrative staff.
When working with university support workers, empathy is essential. Establishing a healthy and inclusive work environment is facilitated by acknowledging and comprehending individual viewpoints, problems, and contributions.
In conclusion, living on campus has been exacerbated by a changing global environment, changing lifestyles, fierce rivalry, and rapidly developing technology. National Education Policy 2020 highlights that a comprehensive approach is needed to promote a dynamic and vibrant campus.
Pandit works at IGIDR. Sarma is a former Vice-Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar. Views are personal.