Reiterating his opposition to the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER), Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy said on Tuesday that the Centre was “infringing on the State’s rights on education.”
Speaking to reporters here after discussing with Vice-Chancellors of State universities and higher education officials the State’s response ahead of the public consultations on the draft Bill, Mr. Ponmudy said education should be moved back to the State List.
“It is only after education was moved to the Concurrent List [in 1976] that it has become a commercial activity and private interests are playing a larger role. This is also reflected in the problem with deemed universities.”
Mr. Ponmudy argued that with diversity in languages and the need for social justice legislation across States, it would be impossible to implement a uniform system as envisaged by the NCHER Bill. “It is opposed to the basic concept of “Unity in Diversity”, he said.
Mr. Ponmudy said having a national registry of persons eligible for appointment as Vice-Chancellors would result in practical problems. The dual responsibility vested in universities and the central authority would create problems.
He said Tamil Nadu had favoured removal of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC) and the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE). In their place, the Centre should look to provide more powers to State-level bodies such as the State Councils for Higher Education and the Directorates of Technical Education.
A body to establish and regulate the standards of education would be welcome, but involving a Central body in day-to-day activities would be inefficient when State-level bodies could do the work.
The public consultation on the draft NCHER Bill by a taskforce led by M. Anandakrishnan will be held at Anna University on Wednesday. Vice-Chancellors of State universities and Higher Education Secretary K. Ganesan will present the government’s views to the committee.