Bill won't affect autonomy of varsities: Soopy

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM MAY 9. The universities in the State would not be allowed to degenerate into departments of the Government and the Unified Universities Bill, now on the anvil, was meant to provide a new direction to the higher education sector, said Nalakath Soopy, the Minister for Education.

Inaugurating a seminar on `Higher Education and Unified Universities Act', organised here today by the Centre for Social Excellence and Development, he said the Bill when enacted would help improve the functioning of the universities. They would also be made accountable to the students and society at large, he added.

The Bill was also meant to unify the syllabi and the examination schedules in all the universities in the State. It would not be misinterpreted for any political gains.

A drastic change in the higher education sector was what was sought to be achieved, the Minister maintained. It was high time a qualitative improvement in the academic scene was brought about.

There would be no infringement on the autonomy of the universities. However, there was no denying the fact that the academic bodies of the universities were concerned more about creation of posts and promotions than the courses and performance of the students.

The Government was not opposed to the starting of `new generation' courses. Whether some of the existing ones should still be taught had to be examined, Mr. Soopy suggested.

It was unfortunate that those crying foul over the proposed Bill had themselves converted the seats of higher learning into centres of political activity.

A thorough depolitcisation of the universities would be almost impossible, especially in a democratic set-up. However, the `evil effects' of politics should be got rid off.

Launching a severe attack on the Calicut University authorities, the Minister said that there was no justification in the Vice- Chancellor or his representative keeping off the meeting held here early this week to deliberate on the Unified Universities Bill.

Even though the Vice-Chancellors of the Kerala and Kannur Universiies had conveyed their inability to attend the meeting, the VC of the Calicut University had not even shown the courtesy to do so.

The meeting of the Inter University Consultative Committee (IUCC) to be held at Kannur on May 13, had been announced well in advance. However, a meeting of the syndicate of the Calicut University has also been scheduled to be held at Thrissur on the same day.

This has been done deliberately so that the VC and other senior officials could abstain from the IUCC meeting, the Minister alleged.

There was more to it than meets the eye, he said adding that a Vice-Chancellor would not be allowed to function as he pleased.

The proposed Bill would be discussed at various levels before it was enacted and the suggestions would be considered by the Government, the Minister said.

A. Sukumaran Nair presided over the function. P.T. Thomas, MLA, J.V. Vilanilam, V.S. Hareendranath and S.A. Shajahan spoke.

At the plenary session that followed the seminar, papers were presented by N.A. Kareem, T.N. Jayachandran, B. Chandrachudan Nair, V.M. Manoharan, R. Krishnakumar and T. Varghese.

The valedictory session was inaugurated by T.M. Jacob, Minister for Irrigation. S. Varghese welcomed the gathering and N. Mukundan proposed a vote of thanks.

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