Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The National Knowledge Commission on Friday urged the government to reconsider and reformulate the Central Universities Bill, 2008, aimed at setting up 15 Central universities.

The Union Cabinet last week approved the Human Resource Development Ministry’s proposal to take the ordinance route to enact the Bill.

According to the NKC, the Bill needed to be reformulated in consultation with all stakeholders.

Expressing alarm over provisions of the jumbo legislation, the Commission noted that the Bill — “which vests overwhelming control with the government” — repeated earlier mistakes and compounded persistent problems of higher education in India. Also, it negated the letter and spirit of the essential recommendations of the commission.

“Danger to autonomy”

Stating that the Bill represented a danger to autonomy and excellence in higher education, the NKC statement drew attention to its own note of January 2006 providing a blueprint for reforming higher education. From that note, the NKC flagged the proposal to set up an independent regulatory authority.

The commission had been pushing for an independent regulator of the university system to distance varsities from the government. This, according to NKC, would allow universities the academic freedom and institutional autonomy needed to foster excellence.

The Bill sought to convert three universities in different States into central universities and set up a central university in each of the 12 other States where none existed.

As a number of preparatory measures needed to be taken to operationalise the proposed universities for the next academic session, the government view was that circumstances mandated immediate action.