Hyderabad: Participants at a brainstorming session on Monday said that the proposed Higher Education Commission of India, meant to replace the University Grants Commission, was being proposed in a manner that would hurt the autonomy of universities.
The participants, including vice-chancellors and academics, said it was not good to centralise the power of making university appointments, they said. The proposed Bill to form the HECI will wrest the powers of the states that were specified in the Constitution, they said.
Speaking at the session, Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari said the Constitution allowed for establishing colleges and universities based on the requirement of the region. The proposed HECI Bill may put that in danger, Mr Srihari said.
The meeting was attended by TSCHE chairman T. Papi Reddy, Rajya member K. Keshava Rao, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and vice-chancellors of various universities.
The minister said more than half the posts in Central institutions were vacant, and the Union government was not filling them. He said more time should be given to gather the opinions of people and stakeholders before implementing educational reforms. The Bill doesn’t seem to bring higher education closer to poor and weaker sections, Mr Srihari said.
Participants pointed out that the proposed HECI had few academics and more bureaucrats. The Centre had recently appointed vice chancellors to some universities and there was a danger that such acts might send the wrong signals to people.
The Centre has asked states governments for recommendations and concerns on the HECI Bill. The brainstorming session was held at the BR Ambedkar Open University on Monday towards this end. The minister said reforms should help universities achieve an international reputation. In-service training should be given to all the teachers right from schools to universities.
Mr Papi Reddy said, “We will submit a report on the meeting to the Chief Minister. After his approval, the government will make its stand clear on the Bill to the Centre by July 20.”
In Chennai, Justice A.K. Rajan, former judge of the Madras High Court said the Centre had no power either to establish, regulate or wind up universities according to the Constitution. This power is given to state legislatures under Entry 32 List 2 (state list).
Speaking at a book release event, he said, “If the proposed HECI Act comes into existence all universities and states will be powerless as it will govern the entire higher education sector.”