Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stricter norms for future Vice Chancellors

It may no longer be possible to become vice chancellor (VC) of a central or private university merely because a person thinks he is worthy of the job, is able to exercise influence, or is its promoter. He will have to be a part of a National Registry of VCs that will be compiled by the collegium of the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER). The national registry will include the names after a thorough assessment of a persons competence. Only those persons whose names are included in the registry can be appointed VCs of Central and private universities.

In a big step forward, the draft NCHER Bill, 2010, plugs all the loopholes that afflict the functioning of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Even the concept and term called "deemed university" has been done away with. NCHER will replace UGC, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE). Once NCHER comes into existence all higher educational institutions will have to seek authorization as per norms laid out by the new body. As per the draft, all universities, including private ones, will for the first time be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act on the ground that they are public institutions. The draft Bill also has an unprecedented provision which says that the President will review the Commissions functioning within 5 years of it coming into being while Parliament will do so after 10 years.

The draft has been prepared by an HRD ministry task force and will be put through more discussions. Education being a concurrent subject, state universities will be free to either seek names from the registry or appoint their own VCs. The collegium will play a crucial role in the functioning of NCHER. It will have two kinds of members core and co-opted. The latter will be brought in by the core members. The core fellows will have to be national research professors, Nobel laureates, Jnanpith awardees and members of academies of international standing. Even overseas Indians can become core fellows. The co-opted fellows will be chosen by the core fellows to represent each state and Union territory. The collegium will aid, advise and recommend to NCHER academic standards, future trends in different fields of knowledge and prepare the National Registry of VCs or head of institution of national importance.

In a bid to deal with absent members when voting is required, the draft Bill permits voting through electronic methods. NCHER, with powers of a civil court, will specify norms and standards needed for an institution to award any degree or diploma; develop a national curriculum framework; specify norms and processes for establishment and winding up of a university; specify norms of academic quality; and lay down the minimum eligibility conditions for appointment of VC of any university or head of an institution.

Separately, a detailed transparent procedure has been laid out for grant of authorization to an educational institution and revocation of such an authorization. The day-to-day functioning of NCHER will be lookrd after by a seven-member body including a chairperson. All of them will be scholars of eminence. The chairperson and members will be selected for five years by a committee headed by the Prime Minister and consisting of the Lok Sabha Speaker, leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, HRD minister and the health minister.

This article written by Akshya Mukul.
Source: The Times of India, January 31, 2010

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