Gujarat gets a law enabling CM to govern all universities
The law envisages a Higher Education Council, under the chair of chief minister, which will be in effect the supreme monitoring body of universities.
Ahmedabad/ New Delhi, Feb 5: After the nod yesterday from Governor O P Kohli, the state of Gujarat has got a new law that will enable the chief minister to monitor academic/administrative/financial activities of all universities in the state, which many see as curb of the autonomy of universities and powers of vice chancellors.
The Gujarat State Higher Education Council Bill 2016 was passed by the state Assembly in April 2016 and has since been pending with the governor for his nod. In June that year, Governor O P Kohli had sought clarification from the state government on some of the key provisions of the bill after objections from various stake-holders and political parties. However, as per media reports, he gave his nod to the same bill this Friday (3 Feb 2017) without making any changing.
The bill was passed last year by the Gujarat Assembly in the absence of opposition members, who were suspended by the Speaker on the last working day of the assembly during the budget session.
According to The Indian Express, "the Bill will bring all universities of the state under the ambit of a Higher Education Council, chaired by the chief minister and seeks to curtail the authority of the vice-chancellors and gives sweeping powers to the Gujarat government. Apart from the CM who will be the president of the Council, the other members include the state education minister as the vice-president, minister of state for education as the co-vice-president and five vice-chancellors of state universities."
The Democratic Students Organisation (DSO) has opposed the move and sent a memorandum to education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Saturday. DSO alleged the law is against the autonomy of academic institutions.
Last year also, teaching and non-teaching staff of Gujarat University and other universities in the state had opposed the bill and demanded its rollback.
Lord Bhikhu Parekh, former vice-chancellor of Vadodara's M S University and member of United Kingdom's House of Lords, had also opposed the bill.
"The governing council itself will be headed by chief minister as its president, education minister as vice president and minister of state (education) as co vice president. There will be 15 government nominees including five VCs who will not be elected from amongst themselves but selected by the government. This is unacceptable," Times of India had quoted Parekh as saying.
"Government can advise universities but cannot control them. It can give them financial directions but not academic directions. There is also a provision whereby government can do commercial development of properties of the universities which is completely unnecessary," he had said.
Here in Delhi, students of Jawaharlal Nehru University have been protesting against the May 2016 notification of University Grants Commission which gives about 100% weightage to viva for admission in MPhil and PhD courses in central universities. Some students are on hunger strike seeking rollback of the UGC notification.