Saturday, December 14, 2013

MHRD panel's move will make 39 central universities lose autonomy

In a move that will take away the autonomy of 39 Central universities, a high-level committee set up by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) 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A M Pathan, former Vice-Chancellor of Central University of Karnataka, has recommended that the existing Acts should be repealed.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 MHRD minister as ex-officio chairperson and consist of University Grants Commission (UGC) chairperson, all VCs of central universities, four members nominated by the central government representing Ministries of MHRD, Finance, Youth Affairs and Science and Technology, not less than three but not more than five members to be nominated by the Visitor (President of India) 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 the 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.

Source: The Times of India, December 14, 2013

3 comments:

  1. As former Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University and later of Pondicherry (central) University I knew that some commonality and reforms were needed in central universities which were to enhance accountability but not to take away autonomy. I would have recommended the following.1. The term of the Vice Chancellor shall be 6 years.2. There shall be an appraisal mechanism of the performance at the end of 3 years(before he/she enters the 4th year) by a competent committee,may be the kind the Pathan committee has suggested, who shall rate the performance on the basis of objective and tangible parameters,on a scale of 1-5.Only those who score more than 3 shall be continuing for the remaining period. Today,at the end of five years all V Cs walk out with shawls and felicitations with out a score card in their hand. Arabian horses and donkeys are all in same row. Often Donkeys get a second term or get into another university. Worst of all is the Government and president in some cases shifting Vice chancellors from one
    university to another in just a few months or less than a year. Autonomy gives opportunity to a performer to do wonders and accountability prevents non performers to stay on. when the president repeats on several platforms his desire to see world class universities in India,he and the government should also know the basic parameters that a world class university has.They are,1.critical mass of students and faculty,2.total diversity of Teachers and students,representing not only the entire country but from across the globe.2. Integration of UG and PG programmes,3.Mobility of students and Teachers,4.Interdisciplinary and flexible learning environment, 5.multidisciplinary campuses,6.freedom to invite and appoint top class faculty from any where in the world,and of course state of the art facilities, Labs and Library. It will be suicidal to move towards Uniformitarianism instead of going towards more Heterogeneity and autonomy. The key is autonomy and accountability through a robust mechanism rather than centralization and uniformity and controls by central committees and UGC.

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    As former Vice Chancellor of Kashmir University and later of Pondicherry (central) University I knew that some commonality and reforms were needed in central universities which were to enhance accountability but not to take away autonomy. I would have recommended the following.1. The term of the Vice Chancellor shall be 6 years.2. There shall be an appraisal mechanism of the performance at the end of 3 years(before he/she enters the 4th year) by a competent committee,may be the kind the Pathan committee has suggested, who shall rate the performance on the basis of objective and tangible parameters,on a scale of 1-5.Only those who score more than 3 shall be continuing for the remaining period. Today,at the end of five years all V Cs walk out with shawls and felicitations with out a score card in their hand. Arabian horses and donkeys are all in same row. Often Donkeys get a second term or get into another university. Worst of all is the Government and president in some cases shifting Vice chancellors from one university to another in just a few months or less than a year. Autonomy gives opportunity to a performer to do wonders and accountability prevents non performers to stay on. when the president repeats on several platforms his desire to see world class universities in India,he and the government should also know the basic parameters that a world class university has.They are,1.critical mass of students and faculty,2.total diversity of Teachers and students,representing not only the entire country but from across the globe.2. Integration of UG and PG programmes,3.Mobility of students and Teachers,4.Interdisciplinary and flexible learning environment, 5.multidisciplinary campuses,6.freedom to invite and appoint top class faculty from any where in the world,and of course state of the art facilities, Labs and Library. It will be suicidal to move towards Uniformitarianism instead of going towards more Heterogeneity and autonomy. The key is autonomy and accountability through a robust mechanism rather than centralization and uniformity and controls by central committees and UGC.

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