The powers of the pro-chancellor must be broad: from the presidency of the university senate, his high-level decision-making body, to the presidency of the convocation ceremony in the absence of the chancellor.
Maharashtra now has a dubious reputation for going against the broader national policy of depoliticizing campuses. Experts are worried about the likely impact on universities if the minister starts chairing the meetings. Interference by politicians in the day-to-day operation of campuses goes against the spirit of academic freedom. It bears repeating that this government sought to directly appoint a registrar at the University of Mumbai by bypassing the procedure. The courts had to step in and the state lost the case
YOU have access to a copy of the bill that was tabled in the upper house. It will be discussed in the coming week. Experts say the move is a blow to the autonomy of universities.
“Retrograde amendments, detrimental to higher education”
Among the amendments, the state also proposed to change the method of selecting the vice-chancellor. The state will now receive the list of five candidates chosen by the selection board, preselecting two for consideration by the governor, the chancellor of universities. “If the state does not approve any of the people so recommended, it can request a new panel either from the same committee or after the constitution of a new committee,” says the project.
The plan has been strongly criticized by prominent academics. “The concept of autonomous universities was given to us by the British. By virtue of this, the VC is the head of the institution and no one can enter the campus or interfere with its functioning. The chancellor is supposed to save the university from state government influence or politics. This freedom should not be taken away. We are facing a conflictual situation, ”said the former vice-chancellor of the University of Pune, Ram Takawle.
Bhushan Patwardhan, former vice chairman of the University Grants Commission, said the amendments were “backward” and “damaging” to higher education. “These changes will have a long-term negative impact on universities. The amendments go beyond all limits. The interference of the ministerial level in the appointment of the VC and the selection of a person of his choice and his ideology, that is like taking charge of education. If the freedom of the universities is taken away, the central government will have to step in and stop this. I hope the state will reconsider these amendments, “Patwardhan said.
He recalled that in 30 years of presence in the university system, he had never seen such interference. Some other states tried to dilute the autonomy of their universities, but these met with protests and the states were forced to withdraw. Except once, when the Maharashtra Public Universities Bill was amended in 1974 and all financial powers were withdrawn by the state, including the right to create new positions.
“With these proposals, the state has assassinated the autonomy of universities,” said former vice-chancellor of the University of Mumbai, AD Sawant.