This despite opposition from political parties, students and officialdom

After a four-year hiatus, the private university bill is back in the reckoning. The trigger: a proposal by a top Delhi-based varsity to set up a centre in the State was shot down by the AP State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) citing UGC norms.

The government has now taken matters into its own hands, directing officials to prepare a report on the Private Universities Bill.

Revival of hopes

The move has revived hopes of several players desperately seeking to convert their institutions into universities.

Though several States had earlier passed legislations — mandated by a Supreme Court ruling — allowing the entry of private universities, the initiative here was taken in 2006 during the YSR regime. A committee was constituted to frame the guidelines and a bill was to be introduced in 2009.

But that did not materialise for various reasons, including the Chief Minister’s demise.

Social issues

Senior officials involved in the preparation of the draft said commercial exploitation by private universities and the social issues involved were discussed.

Government’s call

“We had submitted the draft report and it is for the government to take a policy decision now,” an official said.

Establishment of private universities was vehemently opposed by several political parties and also student organisations.

If commercial exploitation was a reason for the latter’s opposition, officials argued it would be difficult to regulate their activities.

Officials sceptical

“They [private varsities] are more interested in escaping from government control to commercialise their admissions. How will a single institute pump a hundred crores to set up a varsity matching the best in the country when they are unable to maintain even minimum standards in their existing colleges,” an official said.

A senior official admitted to the difficulty in controlling deemed universities that were exploiting students and violating UGC norms to run off-campus and distance education centres.

Students unions

“The entry of private universities will further vitiate the atmosphere. It may also see a backlash from student unions increasingly growing militant due to the prevailing political conditions in the State,” he averred.

On the other hand, institutes ready to enter the fray like the Malla Reddy Group, Aurora Institutions, Anurag institutions, CBIT and Holy Mary argue that the government should encourage private institutes with strong regulatory mechanism in place for maintaining quality and leave their fate to students.

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