Senior members of the University of Pune (UoP) believe that the proposed Maharashtra Public Universities (MPU) Act,2011,will make the functioning of varsities undemocratic and higher education unaffordable. The Act is likely to cover 10 universities of the state.
A five-member committee comprising members of the senate,Academic Council and Management Council will submit its suggestions to make changes to the proposed MPU by June 5. Among the most strongly opposed provisions of MPU are the dissolution of the varsity senates and introduction of a Fee Fixation Committee.
Gajanan Ekbote,senior senate member,said,At present,the senate is a democratically formed body that includes all stakeholders,even students. Statutes of the senate like the service conditions,elections and decisions on disciplinary action,etc,are all instruments of exercising democratic control in higher education bodies. While the senate has 75 per cent elected members,the MPU body,Society Partnership Council (SOUL) of a university has only 10 elected members out of 45. The rest will be all nominated by the chancellors of universities.
Talking about the Fee Fixation Committee,he said it would make education inaccessible for students who do not fall under any of the fee waiver categories. This committee proposes to allow colleges to decide their own fee structure even for non-professional courses. At present,only 10 per cent of students go for professional courses. In most non-professional courses,while the students pay about Rs 1,600 per year,the government bears an expense of Rs 80,000 per student as it is subsidised education.
The draft MPU is to be taken up for a debate in the monsoon session of the Legislative Assembly. While the government wanted feedback by May 29,UoP has requested that they be given time till June 5 to send their feedback to the Kumud Bansal committee,which is examining the draft MPU Act.
Educationists,however,seem to agree with the provision in the draft MPU that says universities are to have a post for a provost instead of the existing system of a pro-vice chancellor.
On November 25,while talking to The Indian Express,former chairman of UGC Arun Nigavekar,who has been instrumental in the drafting of MPU Act,had said,To help deal with the issue of VCs leaving without completing their terms and universities left in the lurch till a new VC is appointed,the draft has suggested that a permanent position of provosts be established at the universities. We need a permanent seat to help universities go through the interim period in the event of a VC leaving.
Commenting on this,Ekbote said,It will indeed help to speed up the decision making process in this interim period for universities.