Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes said a proposal to give university status to institutions of repute is pending because deliberations in Parliament were disrupted.

Speaking after inaugurating an auditorium of St. Joseph’s College here on Friday, he hoped that the proposal would soon be approved and minority institutions like St. Joseph’s College could attain university status. The Minister said both private and government institutions have a role in expanding access to higher education.

Mr. Fernandes said that while seven per cent of youth entered universities a decade ago, it was 18.5 per cent now. It is expected to reach around 30 per cent in five to six years, he added.

The Union government had decided to set up 50,000 vocational training institutions across the country to provide employment avenues to those who do not go to universities, he said.

Home Minister K.J. George emphasised the need to not give hard work a go-by even though technology made everything available at one’s fingertips. Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras participated in the function.

Speaking on the sidelines of the programme, Mr. Fernandes said communal tension in coastal Karnataka was being “engineered”, but the Government of Karnataka was tackling it well. He refused to comment on who was “engineering” tension, and said: “Everyone knows it well.” Asked about the status of Shiradi Ghat, the Minister said “something is cooking” and something concrete would emerge by March 3 or 4.