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Andhra pvt varsity bill eyes a comeback
HYDERABAD : After a four-year gap the private university bill is back in the reckoning here. The trigger: a proposal by a top Delhi-based varsity to set up a centre in the State was shot down by the AP State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) citing UGC norms.

The government has now taken matters into its own hands, directing officials to prepare a report on the Private Universities Bill.

The move has revived hopes of several players desperately seeking to convert their institutions into universities.

“They [private varsities] are more interested in escaping from government control to commercialise their admissions. How will a single institute pump a hundred crores to set up a varsity matching the best in the country when they are unable to maintain even minimum standards in their existing colleges,” an official said.

Though several States had earlier passed legislations — mandated by a Supreme Court ruling — allowing the entry of private universities, the initiative here was taken in 2006 during the
YSR regime. A committee was constituted to frame the guidelines and a bill was to be introduced in 2009.

But that did not materialise for various reasons, including the Chief Minister’s demise.
Social issues

Senior officials involved in the preparation of the draft said commercial exploitation by private universities and the social issues involved were discussed.
Government’s call

“We had submitted the draft report and it is for the government to take a policy decision now,” an official said.

Establishment of private universities was vehemently opposed by several political parties and also student organisations.

If commercial exploitation was a reason for the latter’s opposition, officials argued it would be difficult to regulate their activities.

A senior official admitted to the difficulty in controlling deemed universities that were exploiting students and violating UGC norms to run off-campus and distance education centres.

“The entry of private universities will further vitiate the atmosphere. It may also see a backlash from student unions increasingly growing militant due to the prevailing political conditions in
the State,” he averred.

On the other hand, institutes ready to enter the fray like the Malla Reddy Group, Aurora Institutions, Anurag institutions, CBIT and Holy Mary argue that the government should encourage
private institutes with strong regulatory mechanism in place for maintaining quality and leave their fate to students.


 Govt move to streamline working of pvt varsities

By Sanjiv Dube
The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) here will soon form a working group of experts to study the functioning of the private universities in the country.

The NIEPA, a deemed university situated in the NCERT campus here has been established by the Ministry of Human Resource Development for capacity building and research in planning and management of education in the country and is under the control of the government.

The deemed university has recently been assigned the task to suggest ways and means to streamline the working of private universities in the country. It has been told to study laws under which various private universities have been set up and the level of autonomy they enjoy.

The working group will also study the mechanism in place to monitor the functioning of the private universities in each state.

“The NIEPA expert panel will also look into the fee regulation being adopted by the state governments with respect to private universities,” a MHRD official disclosed.

The move follows a number of complaints received by the MHRD and the higher education regulators under it against private universities on issues ranging from collection and fixing of tuition fee, admissions and appointment of faculty and payment of their salaries.

Based on the report and recommendations of the working group, the ministry will decide the next course of action to revise the existing regulatory framework for the private universities.

“Streamlining of the functioning of the private universities in the country is the need of the hour for the growth of higher education in private sector under a robust regulatory mechanism so that it remains a win-win scenario for both the private universities and the students,” the official said.

The revised regulations will also seek to ensure that these students maintain the quality and standards of the education that they provide with an adequate mechanism for redressal of grievances of the students, teachers and other staff, the official added.

With the liberalisation of economic policy, there has been a surge in the private institutions offering higher education in India. Till 1980, higher education sector was controlled by the government.

From the modest number of 15 private universities in 2005, the number of self-financed higher education institutions has now reached 313. The number of private universities set up in the country under various state laws is 233.

India has as many as 864 universities, 40,026 colleges, 11,669 stand-alone institutions like teacher education institutes in the country.

Punjab private varsities want laissez-faire

By Our Correspondent
On September 6, 2017 the belligerent private universities of Punjab got united to oppose a Punjab government move to constitute a regulatory body to monitor functioning of private institutes.

The meeting was called by a Cabinet sub-committee to take stock of the situation where all private universities unanimously said that any regulator would have the “worst impact”.

The meeting was chaired by the Cabinet sub-committee head, health minister Brahm Mohindra, at Punjab Bhawan where chancellors of all private universities operating in Punjab and representatives of government universities too participated. Technical education minister Charanjit Channi and education minister Aruna Chaudhary also attended as members of the sub-committee.

The private universities challenged the regulatory body as “unconstitutional”, citing an order of the Himachal Pradesh high court on a similar body there. It must, however, be noted that the HC order quashing the regulatory body has since been stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal by the state government.

“We are not against making a pro-student environment in the institutes of Punjab,” stressed Satnam Sandhu, chancellor of Chandigarh University and added. “But, before making any such regulatory authority, the government must keep in mind that in Himachal, the only state to have a regulatory body, their HC had termed this body as unconstitutional. Punjab must study the model of the hilly state where many institutes closed after the body came into existence seven years back.”

Chancellor of another university situated in Doaba said that the state’s move would affect private universities “the way industrial packages given to Himachal have led to shifting of industry from Punjab”. “If seats are capped through the regulatory body, private universities working in Punjab would not get a level-playing fields. How will we compete with states where there is no capping?” he asked. “Moreover, before becoming private universities, we were running colleges; the reason we chose to become universities was to get autonomy. Any regulator at the state level is an attack on our autonomy.”

Some want it!

According to sources not all private universities want to oppose the government move but their chancellors preferred to keep mum at the meeting.

“Some private universities even want capping of the seats to end the monopoly of two or three big players who are calling the shots at present in the education business. They are of the opinion that a regulatory body may provide all universities a level-playing field,” said a source who was in the meeting.

Sources in the government have told HT that some private universities exerted pressure to defer the proposal, and the formation of the cabinet sub-committee was a result of that.

All government-run universities representatives have hailed the proposal. “The regulatory body is the need of the hour as our private as well as government institutes must live up to the changing demands as per needs of the industry,” said Channi.


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