Monday, August 16, 2010

NCHER proposes central registry for VC appointments

A central registry process for the appointment of vice-chancellors has been proposed by the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2010. The bill that will make way for the apex body National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) has been formulated by a task-force appointed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on the basis of the recommendations made by the Yashpal Committee report. In the draft of the bill, the task-force has suggested that one of the roles of the NCHER will be to streamline the process of appointment of vice-chancellors, which is uneven in state and central universities. There will be a central registry process for the appointment of vice-chancellors of the state and central university. Necessary steps have been taken to promote candidates with proven leadership qualities. Anyone who thinks that he or she is qualified and competent to be appointed as a VC can register with NCHER, says Narendra Jadhav, Member, Planning Commission and a member of the task-force.

The NCHER will comprise a constitution of seven members and a collegium (a group of ruling officials each with equal rank and power). Academicians from various fields will form the collegium, which would shortlist candidates for the post of vice-chancellor. In order to make the process transparent, the NCHER will then put the names of the selected candidates on the website to be viewed by institutes in search of a vice-chancellor.

Selection Process: Till now, there were no uniform yardsticks to select a vice-chancellor either in state universities or in central universities. In case of central universities, a selection committee comprising three members selects a VC. In the case of Delhi University (DU), two members from the university's executive council and one from the government form a search committee. They sift the applications of recommended candidates. The selected names are then sent to the government and the President of India finally appoints the VC. In case of state universities, the governor appoints the VCs. It is at the state level that an appointment becomes a political affair, says M.M. Agarwal, Head, Faculty of Arts, DU, who has been a member of earlier search committees.

According to B.B. Bhattacharya, VC, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), VCs are leaders and their decisions play an important role in the overall image of the institution. If a VC's appointment is government driven, it gets reflected in the unlawful activities, etc. of the university. Endorsing his view, M. Anandakrishnan, a member of the task-force appointed to formulate NCHER, says, "Sometimes, instead of academic qualifications, factors such as caste, community, region and ideology become important issues for the appointment of a VC. Activities in universities then become a politicised affair".

Listing some other issues, A.K. Bakhshi, Director, Institute of Life Long Learning, and Head, Department of Chemistry, DU, says, "The yardstick to appoint a VC remains subjective. We have failed to create a rigorous process for the appointment of VCs. We must ensure that a VC, along with requisite academic and administrative qualification, must also possess soft-skills like communication, leadership qualities, innovative ideas and a larger vision. Perhaps this is why our universities fail to match international standards. He also feels that the name of the new VC should be announced well in advance to ensure continuity in administration and academic life of the university.

Fair Chance: According to the new proposal, the central registry will give a chance to everyone aspiring for the post. The bill in its initial drafts had made it mandatory for the central and state universities to select a VC only from the list recommended by the NCHER collegium. However, the proposed bill has met with strong opposition from the state governments, since they would now lose autonomy. The bill has made it optional for states to select a candidate from the list that will be uploaded on the website, says Anandakrishnan.

On a concluding note, Chandra Krishnamurthy, Vice-Chancellor, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai, observes, "The registry process will now give a fair chance to deserving candidates with no political influence. Also, she adds that a list on the website would give universities the freedom to select a candidate in keeping with its specific demands.

Source: The Times of India (Education Times), August 16, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Dr. S. Chakraborty, UGC-Academic Staff College, Gauhati University4:39 PM

    Every University has its specific regional interest and values. Keeping that in mind if a Vice-Chancellor is selected from national registry I think that would be a bold step towards standarization of Higher Education in our country. We would certainly welcome NCHER Bill if it really monitor and guide in maintaining the quality and standard of College and University Education specially the state universities which are persently under financial and administrative crisis.

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