December 12, 2021 2:57:27 am
The Gujarat government has put its plan to replace the elected bodies in public universities with boards of governors on hold because of next year’s Assembly elections.
The task of amending the Universities Act to bring about this change in the governance structure which was in the “immediate” list has been pushed to the “long-term” list, a government source close to the development, told The Indian Express.
“To rule out any resentment or opposition against this major change in the governance structure, the state government has put the implementation of structural change in governance of a university on hold for the time being,” a senior government education official revealed.
A roadmap committee formed for the implementation of National Education Policy 2020 had earlier, in its report to the state government, suggested “amendment of the Universities Act regarding the mandate forhaving a Board of Governors and establish the role of existing executive councils in university governance”.
The committee had in September listed the “governance and leadership” that includes replacement of elected members of syndicate and senate with board of governors in the immediate action plan, to be taken up with a targeted timeline starting 2022.
With the change in government in September, a few more members were added to this roadmap committee taking the total number of members to 16 including chairperson Prof Navin Sheth, Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Technological University.
“With autonomy for institutes being at the heart of the NEP 2020, the roadmap prepared looks at changes required to being in autonomous education institutes on the lines of IITs, NITs and IIMs as development of an institute becomes difficult at times that gets stuck in approvals from different councils, syndicates and senates. Since this requires a complete change in the governance structure, it has been recommended to start with the academic autonomy process to start after 4 years which will be followed by de-affiliation and de-accreditation process,” Prof Navin Sheth, chairperson of the roadmap committee told The Indian Express.
Some universities established in the state after the government passed the Private Universities Bill 2009, including Gujarat Technological University, Shri Govind Guru University Godhra and Bhakt Kavi Narsinh Mehta University Junagadh, already has the board of governors structure.
The state government in April this year had repealed the existing Gujarat Ayurved University Act, 1965 and passed the Gujarat Ayurved University Bill 2021 through which the elected bodies of Syndicate and Senate in the university and its affiliated colleges were replaced. The Bill mandates the Board of Governors as the “supreme authority” of the university.
From senate as the ‘supreme governing body’ stipulated in the repealed 1965 Act, the 15-member Board of Governors with the vice chancellor as its ex-officio chairman has nominated members by the state government from departments ranging from health, education, finance, AYUSH and experts from the fields of finance, legal, administration, humanities, management, good manufacturing practices certified ayurved drug industries member among others, all nominated by the state government.
The implementation roadmap of NEP has been divided into three — zero to three years, four to six and seven to 10 years. On December 5, the Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani declared that the state government has plans to implement the National Education Policy 2020 completely by 2030 during a Youth Parliament of India.
The process to establish the Board of Governors is to be identified by the state government. With both the state and central government authorities responsible for the implantation, this would be based on the regulatory framework identified by the National Higher Education regulatory Council (NHERC) and University Grants Commission guidelines for establishing Board of Governors.
Besides prof Sheth, the additional members in the new roadmap committee include Vice-Chancellor of Indian Institute of Teachers Education Gandhinagar Harshad Patel, Vice-Chancellor of Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University Ahmedabad Ami Upadhyay and founding director of International Centre for Cosmology, Chaursat University Anand Dr Pankaj Joshi whose term as University provost expired in August this year.
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