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39 Central varsities set to lose autonomy if HRD ministry panel has its way

Autonomy, Higher Education

Times of India

14-Dec-2013

In a move that will take away the autonomy of 39 Central universities, a high-level committee set up by the HRD ministry has recommended that they be brought under a legislation of Parliament. If recommendation of the panel is implemented, universities will lose the autonomy of appointing teachers, managing their finances and diversity of courses to be offered.  At present 39 central universities – including the old ones like the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and others ? are managed by 24 Acts of Parliament. In 2009, 16 new central universities were created under a single Act of Parliament. The committee, headed by A M Pathan, former vice-chancellor of Central University of Karnataka, has recommended that the existing Acts should be repealed. “Government should reject the recommendation forthwith. If implemented, it will take away the diversity of Indian higher education. Intervention like four-year undergraduate programme will be expanded to other universities,” one VC of Delhi-based central university said.  Though Pathan committee has said visions of luminaries like Madan Mohan Malaviya (BHU), Rabindranath Tagore (Shantiniketan), Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU), Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (AMU) and B R Ambedkar (Ambedkar University) will be retained, the recommendations are going to cause furore in some of these old institutions.  Pathan Committee has said the office of chancellor should be abolished and a Council of Vice-Chancellors (CVCs), a new body, be put in place. CVCs will be headed by the HRD minister as ex-officio chairperson and consist of UGC chairperson, all VCs of central universities, four members nominated by the central government representing ministries of HRD, finance, youth affairs and science and technology, not less than three but not more than five members to be nominated by the Visitor and three members of Parliament. CVCs will co-ordinate the activities of all the central universities, advise on matters of policy relating to academic matters, synchronize academic calendars and other functions.  VCs will be appointed by a search-cum-selection committee consisting of nine members. Of the nine members of the panel, three will be nominated by visitor, six by the CVC out of which one will be from the Scheduled Caste, one from socially and educationally backward classes, one woman and one from a minority community.  In a bid to curtail VCs independence and make him subservient to UGC, immediately after appointment s/he is expected to give a report to the UGC about varsity’s infrastructure, number of posts of teachers, employees, details of research, courses, collaboration with other institutions and perspective plan in respect of academics, administration and development.  If this is not enough, the committee has recommended establishment of the Central Universities (teachers, registrar and finance officer) Recruitment Board that will make centralized appointment of assistant professors. Candidates will give preference for allotment of central university but the decision will rest with the recruitment board. Performance of teachers will be done through external peer review. Universities will have the option of either admitting students through a common test or evolve its own procedure.

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