Special Correspondent

‘State Government should not take any step that is seen as interfering with the autonomy of higher educational institutions’

A Bill was passed in the Assembly enhancing govt. control on the functioning of universities

‘Instead of raising funds, Govt. disturbing their autonomy by controlling appointments, etc.’

JAIPUR: A University Grants Commission team which visited Rajasthan University here to assess its financial needs during the 11th Five Year Plan period on Thursday expressed its reservations over a Bill passed by the State Assembly recently enhancing government control on the functioning of universities and appointment of Vice-Chancellors.

The Rajasthan Universities’ Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, passed by the State Assembly during its brief monsoon session this past week, provides for an increased role for the State Government in the running of universities and appointment and removal of V-Cs. The Bill has added a special clause on “Control of the State Government” to the statutes governing varsities.

The controversial Bill, passed amid opposition from the Congress, has drastically reduced the role of the Governor, who is the Chancellor of all nine universities in the State, and endowed the Government with a greater role in the academic institutions on the pretext of maintaining harmonious relations between the universities and the State Government.

Punjab Singh, former Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University who led the UGC team, told reporters that the Bill, which would disturb the autonomy of universities, should not have been passed in haste. “The State Government should not take any step that is seen as interfering with the autonomy of higher educational institutions,” he cautioned.

Prof. Punjab Singh said the autonomy of universities always added to their performance in research and other academic activities. He regretted that the State Government, instead of raising the allocation of funds to the universities, was disturbing their autonomy by controlling appointments, promotions, grant of emoluments and financial matters.

The nine-member UGC team, during its four-day visit to the State, appraised the functioning of 36 post-graduate departments, 18 research centres and other units of the university and examined the proposals for academic, research and development activities during the 11th Plan. It expressed satisfaction over the utilisation of funds sanctioned during the 10th Plan.

Prof. Singh said though the majority of departments in the university had a reasonably good infrastructure, they were lacking in human resources with no appointment of teachers made during the past 15 years. He said the university would shortly appoint 335 teachers following the State Government’s recent approval to fill up vacancies.

Referring to the university’s demand for Central University status, Prof. Singh said though the varsity had a “great potential waiting to be exploited”, the matter was in the Union Government’s domain. “The Centre has announced that it will establish a Central University in Rajasthan. We do not know if it is Rajasthan University that is going to get the new status.”

Prof. Singh pointed out that it was the State Government’s responsibility to provide a major portion of funds to the university and the UGC could only “fill the gaps” through its grants. “While the State Government should augment its funding, we will work out how much the UGC has to shell out,” he added.

The UGC team head suggested that the university establish facilities such as better laboratories, academic centres and conference rooms and create more amenities for students in the 11th Plan period, besides introducing professional courses ensuring direct employment on their completion.