The Assam Assembly on Wednesday unanimously passed the Cotton College State University Bill, 2011, paving the way for upgrading the State's oldest (110-year-old) college into a teaching, affiliating, residential university. The new university shall include faculties of Arts, Science, Law, Medicine, Technology, Agriculture, Business Administration, Mass Communication, Engineering, Indian Fine Arts, Commerce and other such faculties as may be prescribed by statutes.

The jurisdiction of the university would be throughout the State, and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi would be the Chancellor.

While Opposition members had proposed that the Governor be appointed Chancellor, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the House that the government had proposed Chief Minister as Chancellor to ensure that the new university got State patronage over a period.

Although Mr. Gogoi had announced in his budget speech that the proposed university would be a non-affiliating university, the government proposed in the Bill that it should be an affiliating university so as to foster an atmosphere of competition among the universities of the State, Dr. Sarma told the House.

The Act states that the existing Cotton College would be a constituent college, be a part of the university and impart undergraduate and degree-level education at the same campus.

Brand image

When AGP member Keshab Mahanta proposed that the new university be named after the great Sanskrit scholar and Indian Civil Service officer, Anundoram Borooah, Mr. Sarma said that as a former General Secretary of Cotton College and as an ex-Cottonian, he was opposed to giving a new name to the new university as it would amount to tampering with the Cotton College brand image that had grown over the past 110 years.

He, however, said that the State government would be open to any proposal by the Cotton College family comprising students, teachers as well as ex-Cottonians to change the nomenclature.