Under constant criticism allowing large-scale private universities in the state,Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Thursday said the government has decided to allow only 20 private universities to function in the state. The government has so far,already sanctioned 13 such universities,of which 11 are functional.
Dhumal also said that only four districts Bilaspur,Chamba,Kullu and Mandi will be preferred for the new universities as the state has already reached a saturation point. The chief minister,however,defended the opening of two new universities,for which the state assembly voted two new bills on Thursday.
Citing the case of ICFAI,which closed down in a short period due to lack of students,two opposition members Harshvardhan Chauhan and Sukhwinder Sukhu raised questions on the viability of the new universities .
Sukhu,however, hailed the government move to strengthen the Himachal Pradesh Regulatory Commission to oversee the functioning of private universities but suggested the formulation of an exit clause in the Universities Act to allow unviable universities to close shop by paying a fixed penalty and vesting their assets with the government.
On the other hand,Harshvardhan Chauhan said things have already reached a saturation point and no more private university should be sanctioned by the government. He drew the governments attention towards the alleged sale of P.hD degrees by a private university – Manav Bharti University and also admissions granted to matriculate students by another university .
The chief minister,who intervened,said the government was equally concerned about maintaining the standard of education and had introduced a series of measures ,which included the strengthening of the regulatory body that has been given sweeping powers.
Dhumal said some of the private universities like Shoolni University at Solan and the University of Emerging Sciences and Technology at Baddi have been rated highly by monitoring agencies like the UGC. He added that action would be taken against those universities that had admitted 10 th standard students or sold degrees.
Earlier,Education Minister I D Dhiman defended the governments decision on new private universities by claiming that the universities ensured that the states students got higher education at their doorsteps.