The tussle between the universities and human resource development ministry over autonomy of the university system is not new.
As the government plans to fix accountability for universities in the New Education Policy (NEP), central and state level universities demand more autonomy for the universities before fixing accountability. In the North zone vice chancellors meet called by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in Delhi, academicians also raised concern over the rapid and unplanned expansion in the higher education sector.The tussle between the universities and human resource development ministry over autonomy of the university system is not new. The universities hold the opinion that their autonomy should not be compromised in the quest for NEP. Making a reference to the government’s decision of introducing common syllabus across universities and painting them with the same brush, eminent legal scholar and former Delhi University VC Professor Upendra Baxi said, “Treating all universities as same violates the plural and the diverse character of the university system.” Baxi’s whose fight with the government over universities autonomy goes back to the time when late Arjun Singh was the HRD minister also added that if the government wants to make the universities accountable, it has to stop interfering with their autonomy.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The meeting that was attended by 70 VCs from central and state universities also raised concern over HRD ministry’s pace of expansion and making announcement for establishing new universities. It is expected by 2030 every one in four student will be a graduate from India. “We are not against expansion of higher education. But it has to be well thought and above political influences. Government has been making announcements and opening new universities. But these universities are lacking basic facilities,” said professor Ranbir Singh, vice chancellor of National Law University. Singh is also the president of the AIU.Singh also added that government’s endeavour to open universities at remote locations has been a failure since good teaching faculty does not want to relocate to these places. “Any teacher would want to relocate to a place where his children get a good school, his family gets adequate health care facilities and there is a smart lifestyle attached to the city,” says Singh.To link academia to industry, the house also proposed setting up a University-Industry Council. Absence of adequate sharing and coordination between the university and industry leads to shelving of the important research work.This was the fourth of the five regional meetings of the AIU to discuss the challenges of higher education. The association will submit its report to the HRD ministry after the fifth conference scheduled in Mumbai early next year.