Monday, February 10, 2014

Association of Indian Universities (AIU) indicted for lack of professionalism

The one-man committee to evaluate the functions of Association of Indian Universities (AIU) has severely indicted the organization for lacking professionalism and becoming a highly personalized body. AIU, a body that first came up during the British period and serves as an inter-university organization as well as spokesperson for them, also assists universities in obtaining recognition for their degrees, diplomas and examinations from other universities, Indian as well as foreign.

However, technocrat M Anandakrishnan, who looked into AIU, said in his report that it has "lost its way and is drifting along aimlessly" and that it has "become a non-entity in the higher education system". Anandakrishnan also said that despite government having provided funds to AIU, there was hardly any interaction with the government or the UGC (University Grants Commission). The committee said the practice of giving equivalence certificates to post-graduate diploma of management should be suspended in view of potential for its misuse till UGC approves the process.

Anandakrishnan said the main structural weakness of AIU was the absence of enlightened leadership. "For quite some time, the position of Secretary General, the key administrative leader, has been functioning on an ad-hoc part-time basis," he said. Despite provision for nominations from five zones and search committee, final choice of Secretary General is left to the governing council with a "lot of scope for manipulations as is alleged to have happened recently".

As for the system of choosing president of AIU, Anandakrishnan said the practice of choosing on the basis of seniority was leading to a situation whereby vice-chancellors of private universities who had unlimited terms were more likely to become presidents and not necessarily on the basis of merit.

The committee pointed out specific instances of faulty staff selection and promotion. For instance, many incumbents in senior position never appeared for interview but got promoted by manipulation and nepotism. Anandakrishnan also found that several key administrative positions were lying vacant for years. In the research division, out of 17 sanctioned positions, 12 were vacant including those of director, deputy director, assistant director and senior research assistants and yet a sum of Rs. 4.6 million was shown as establishment charges.

Anandakrishnan recommended drastic modification of its by-laws and doing away with selection of president by seniority, appointment of Secretary General through open advertisement, division of AIU into three separate entities looking into publically funded universities, private universities funded by not-for-profit family trusts/societies and private universities funded by non-profit endowments.

Source: The Times of India, February 10, 2014

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