It will also propose steps for greater autonomy

A seven-member core committee of Vice-Chancellors has been set up to focus on Central universities lagging behind in benchmarks in academic and research performance.

The committee will also look into transparency issues and propose steps to ensure greater autonomy for the Central universities, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal announced on Saturday. With a three-year tenure (on a rotation basis), the panel will report to the Minister every four months.

This was one of the decisions taken at a daylong meeting of the Vice-Chancellors of 22 Central universities, organised at the University of Hyderabad here. They discussed a range of issues, from improving quality of education to implementing transfer of credits and ensuring greater mobility to students.

The Central universities will be given “greater autonomy” to induct academics at any of the three levels — assistant professors, associate professors or professors. “If you have somebody who has the necessary competency, they are free to induct into any level within the budgetary framework,” Mr. Sibal said. “This has been decided unanimously.”

So, if a university deems an assistant professor qualified for the post of professor, it will be free to appoint the candidate as long as the exercise is within the ambit of its financial structure.

Ivy league

An “ivy league” is also being envisaged for those universities that have attained certain benchmarks.

In another step towards addressing shortage of competent hands in schools, a leadership programme for teachers that would culminate in a Diploma in Leadership was agreed on in principle, Mr. Sibal said. The committee will also look into a proposal to introduce a four-year B.Ed. course for those interested in teaching as a career while specialising in a discipline.

Mr. Sibal exhorted the Central universities to make better use of public assets. “Once teaching is over at 2 o'clock, public assets are wasted. Universities should find their own means to utilise those assets,” he said while suggesting that skill development programmes be taken up in public-private partnership.

Responding to a query on apprehensions expressed by educationists about the tight time schedule for the Common Entrance Test proposed for sciences at the Plus-Two level from 2013, Mr. Sibal said the programme could be deferred by another year if required.

Union Minister for State for HRD D. Purandeswari, and University of Hyderabad Vice-Chancellor Seyed E. Hasnain were present.