‘Government should not increase number of controls in the name of reforms'

A national convention on Higher Education on Monday denounced the three bills introduced by the government for the control of private institutions and universities, as “draconian.”

Talking about the Education Tribunal Bill, the Accreditation Bill and the Prohibition of Malpractices Bill, G. Viswanathan, Chancellor of Vellore Institute of Technology, and president of Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI) said the government should not increase the number of controls in the name of reforms.

A delegation of members running private institutes and universities will soon meet the Prime Minister to appeal for consultation with the stakeholders before coming up with the legislation, Mr. Viswanathan said.

The national convention on ‘Higher Education' — The Quality Paradigm' organised by the EPSI — was attended by around 50 delegates from the fields of academics and policy-making.

“The Education Tribunal Bill goes against the fundamental right of the citizen to get immediate remedy. People could be harassed for years together on flimsy grounds,” he said.

He pointed out that the provision of Rs. 1 crore fine and three years' imprisonment in the prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill amounted to discouraging private venture in education. He alleged that the private institutions had to pay fees and bribes to the government at various stages to get permissions for starting a venture or expanding it.

He suggested that the government encourage free growth of private educational institutes wherein open competition would push the lousy institutions out of the market. “You have to pay the government at various stages. Where will all this money come from? The government has to engage with the stakeholders and find solutions.”

Arun Nigavekar, the former chairperson of University Grants Commission, appealed for a holistic approach to growth of higher education. He said the private players could not deny the existence of foul players among them. “Private sector too has problems. But the government response is extreme. This country cannot take any extreme position. Our education has to be linked with quality education and global competition,” he said.