One of the oldest and reputed educational institutions in the Northeast India region, Cotton College, ceased to exist from Thursday. The premiere institute in Guwahati was merged with the Cotton College State University (CCSU) and upgraded as Cotton University on Thursday.
Even though a section of students, alumni and student organizations opposed the state government’s move, Assam education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday made it clear that the government is going ahead with the merger.
“The merger would pave the way for the institution becoming a centre of excellence in the future. With this, we want to make it one of the best universities in the country…and convert it into a centre of excellence in the Southeast Asia,” Sarma said.
The Assam legislative assembly had passed a bill to this effect during the 2016 budget session. The Cotton University Act, 2017, will ensure the Cotton College and Cotton College State University (CCSU) coming under one banner – as Cotton University.
While Sarma added that the Cotton University will have more than 500 teachers, a section of the students protested wearing black masks on Thursday saying that the move will take away the glory of the premiere college.
“We don’t have any objection in setting up of the Cotton University. But the existence of Cotton College should have been there. We request the government to reconsider the decision,” said Dipanka Nath, president of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
Cotton College – set up in 1901 by Sir Henry John Stedman Cotton, the then chief commissioner of the erstwhile British province of Assam – was one of the best known colleges in the region. It was recognized as a centre of excellence in 1992 by former President Shankar Dayal Sharma.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has identified it as a ‘College with Potential for Excellence’ in 2005. The UGC has also identified the college as a ‘Special Heritage College’ under the scheme ‘Special Heritage Status to Colleges’ in 2015.