Chennai: Expressing fear over the proposed act seeking to replace UGC with Higher Education Commission of India, educationists said it will take away the autonomy of state governments and urged all state governments to wake up to the proposed Act which would centralise powers in higher education.
MHRD has come up with draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal University Grants Commission Act) Act 2018 and sought suggestions about the act. Since then, the proposed act has been facing flak from the educationists who have criticised the act saying it will lead to centralising and bureaucratising the higher education.
While the central government claims the proposed Higher Education Commission of India will downsize the scope of the regulator, the institutions fear it will affect their autonomy.
M.Ananthakrishnan, former Vice-Chancellor, Anna University and former chairman of IIT Kanpur, said, “With the proposed act, the powers of state governments will be completely taken away by the central government and they have no say whatsoever as regards to higher education.”
Further, the central government will not give money, but they can close down the state universities, he added. He also said the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) will curtail the freedom of universities. “Once the UGC has abolished the funding to the state universities will be stopped. Now, they all have to run to the HEFA which will only lend loans to the universities instead of grants,” he said adding it will curtail the freedom of universities.
Senior educationist V.Vasanthidevi said the proposal is for total centralization and bureaucratisation of higher education and all powers are going to be in the hands of the government. “It will trample the rights of the states. The states will completely lose whatever the little autonomy or power they have in higher education and it is tantamount to bringing education from concurrent list to central list. The state government must wake up,” she urged.
Throughout the world higher education is given as much autonomy as possible. “The autonomy of individual university or institution is very important. But, all decision-making powers are going to be concentrated in the hands of central government officials,” she cautioned.
“As per the Article 246 of the Constitution, the state government only has powers to incorporate, regulate and winding up of the universities as it comes under the state list. But, the proposed act seeks to take away powers that are vested in state domain,” said P.B. Prince Gajendrababu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System.
He urged the central government to withdraw the draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal University Grants Commission Act) Act 2018.
C. Pichandy, former general secretary, Association of University Teachers (AUT) said the higher education commission sans funding powers cannot function effectively.
He further said the proposed act will pave way for political interference in higher education institutions and sought the wider consultation with all stakeholders.
He also echoed that the central government is usurping the powers of state government in higher education with the proposed Act.