Sunday, August 29, 2010

More autonomy for innovation varsities?

The day-long meeting on Saturday on draft bill on Innovation Universities made a series of suggestions in a bid to give more flexibility and autonomy to the proposed institutions. HRD minister Kapil Sibal said most of the suggestions have been accepted, and are likely to be incorporated in the final draft. The bill is likely to be introduced during the winter session of Parliament after inter-ministerial consultations, the minister added.

The key suggestion was that since these universities will be innovative in nature, the bill should clearly spell out and even define outcomes that it plans to achieve. The nature of administrative structure, too, figured prominently in the discussion. For instance, it was felt that there is no need to have both academic board and board of governors. Delayering of administrative structure was suggested, a source said.

There was an overwhelming view about giving more flexibility in appointment of faculty. In this regard, a specific provision limiting appointment by invitation of any graduating student with high academic distinction to 20% was objected to. Why limit it to 20% Let the innovation universities decide, a senior academician argued. Since Innovative Universities will be set up around a theme, it was felt that they should be multi-disciplinary in nature. It was suggested that while theme could be a good idea for the university to start with, gradually it can develop a multi-disciplinary approach.

Many participants in the meeting agreed that legislation on Innovation Universities should be taken forward, but at the same time the existing institutions should not be ignored, and an attempt must also be made to reform them. It can be a parallel process, Sibal said. According to the minister, themes for Innovation Universities will be decided not by the government but by the institutions themselves.

The government will set up 14 fully-funded Innovation Universities in Greater Noida, Amritsar, Visakhapatnam, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Mysore, Gandhinagar, Jaipur, Kolkata, Bhopal and Kochi. But the number of universities to be set up by private sector has not yet been decided.

Source: The Times of India, August 29, 2010

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