AUT urges UGC to circulate draft proposal among all stakeholders

The Association of University Teachers (AUT) has appealed to the University Grants Commission (UGC) to circulate a draft proposal for amendments to the UGC Act, 1956, on the basis of which the public can interact without any hassle.

Claiming that stakeholders in higher education were shocked at the notice to the public issued by the UGC to suggest amendments to the UGC Act before November 15, AUT vice-president K. Pandiyan said in a statement on Monday that it was imperative on the part of the UGC to “come out transparently” on the need for amendments and the aspects on which the UGC expert committee sought views and suggestions from the public.

The public notice said the expert committee constituted under R.P. Agrawal, former Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, to take a comprehensive look into the existing provisions of the UGC Act and suggest amendments had invited views and suggestions from stakeholders, including Vice-Chancellors, faculty and non-faculty members of universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education, parents, and members of the public.

The notice, the statement said, had no reference to the source of and purpose for this cause of action by the UGC and stakeholders were “perplexed over the compulsions” for the apex body to seek amendments to the existing Act.

The AUT said that stakeholders were suspicious that the UGC was trying to establish as many universities as possible, in line with the suggestion of the National Knowledge Commission, by “circumventing the legal requirement of an Act of the Assembly or Parliament” to establish a university. Through the amendments, it was attempting to enable creation of a different class of colleges, which would be colleges in structure and universities in action.

Referring to the move to upgrade autonomous colleges with potential for excellence, with “A Grade from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council”, as degree conferring institutions, the AUT pointed out that the existing Act did not empower a college to confer degrees.