New Delhi: A panel on higher education is set to propose an overhaul of the mechanism to appoint vice-chancellors in universities in such a way that the present practice of political influence in such selections is precluded.
Fair mechanism: Chairman of the higher education panel, Yash Pal.
Disclosing this, Yash Pal, chairman of the Committee on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education, maintained that devising such a “fair” mechanism would be somewhere halfway between the existing practice and what has been laid down in the Central Universities Bill, 2009.
While the Bill is yet to be notified by Parliament, the new model of appointment being considered by the government-appointed panel would include an independent management board at the universities with representatives from the academia.
“The normal thing about vice-chancellors’ appointments has been setting up of search committees. At the moment, what we are thinking of is that each university could have an independent management board that appoints a search committee. Vice-chancellors so far have had a very difficult time. First, one calls them inefficient, and then, you keep on interfering with them...let us give universities some respect,” Yash Pal said.
The committee’s concern over appointments in universities comes a month after the ministry of human resource development (HRD) led by Arjun Singh cleared appointments of vice-chancellors of 15 central universities, 12 of which are yet to be set up.
Earlier last month, Parliament approved the Central Universities Bill, 2009, which envisages the setting up of new universities and upgrading three state universities to central universities.
“In recent years, choosing persons for high-level appointments in several states has come to involve political and financial considerations,” another member of the panel said on condition of anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The central universities so far have appointed vice-chancellors as per the procedure laid out in their respective Acts, which largely involves a search committee with representatives from the university and nominees from the President of India.
For the yet-to-be established central universities, the HRD ministry invited applications through advertisements and then appointed a search committee to make the final selection. However, the haste shown by the government drew some protest.
The Yashpal committee, which submitted its interim report to the HRD minister earlier this month, is now looking into modalities of ensuring a “free and fair governance structure” in the universities.
The committee, whose term has been extended to June, is also looking into affiliate colleges in state universities which are turning out to be “burdensome”, Yash Pal said.
“These are the colleges where bulk of the enrolment takes place. Poor performance of the state universities has a direct relation to their size (which normally happens due to hundreds of affiliate colleges attached to them),” he said.
The panel, he added, is considering three suggestions: large affiliate colleges be turned into independent universities, a cluster of colleges be made into a university, or a university be set up to act as an examining board for such colleges, since only universities could award degrees to students.