K. Ramachandran

Academicians apprehensive of common bill for all varsities Academics express apprehension about the common Bill for all universities.

CHENNAI: Vice-Chancellors in Tamil Nadu will meet in the city on Wednesday to discuss the draft of the common legislation for all the universities in the State, amid apprehensions expressed by the faculty and non-teaching staff in colleges and the universities about the government usurping more powers from the administrative bodies.

According to the Vice-Chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education, A. Ramasamy, the government was for early passing of the Common Bill that will cover all the universities in the State. "We are seeking different viewpoints and comments from various sections including teachers on the draft of the Bill, which can then be compiled and included in the process of the legislation," he added.

University teachers and staff welcome at least one part of the move, namely the one to revoke the decision for re-designating the government arts and science colleges as constituent units of the affiliating university. "The previous government decided to make the government colleges as constituent units of the universities possibly to bring in a more organic connection between the university and the colleges. But it was never achieved," says K.G. Palani, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu government collegiate teachers association.

The Aided College Teachers' Association (ACTA) general secretary A. Raja said "The invitation for consultation from the TANSCHE did not include any note on the government's objectives. We were asked to make our points or comments without any draft of the Bill or at least an approach paper. We appeal to the TANSCHE to circulate a note on its concerns, interests and intentions to all stakeholders in higher education, and also to eminent educationists, so that the Bill would reflect the opinion of all. Otherwise the entire discussion would be futile," he added.

Academics, such as V.C. Kulandhai Swamy, express apprehension about the common Bill for all universities. Uniformity and higher education are opposing concepts, because by definition higher education has to be innovative.

They feel that a common framework for administration of universities could be evolved, but not a common Bill for all universities because of the different types of requirements for each university, say a purely arts and science model, an engineering or health sciences university. The federation of staff associations of universities in Tamil Nadu is apprehensive that the new Bill could belittle the autonomy of the universities.