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Monday, July 26, 2021

State to Gujarat HC: Exemptions given for ‘Centres of Excellence’ necessary

The affidavit reasons that such an exemption has been provisioned for with the amendment so as to give institutions “flexibility” and to “cultivate an environment” that is best suited for “achieving academic excellence and furthering their research and innovation goals”.

Ahmedabad |
Updated: June 18, 2021 12:53:38 am
The petition was filed by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student organisation of RSS. (File)

Terming the exemptions given to institutes with ‘Centre of Excellence’ tag from fee regulation and common admission tests as “necessary”, the state government in an affidavit filed on June 15 before the Gujarat High Court has submitted that the decision was aimed to “cultivate an environment” and best suited for “achieving academic excellence”.

The submission has come in response to a petition challenging an amendment to the Gujarat Professional Technical Educational Colleges or Institutions (Regulation of Admission and Fixation of Fees) Act, 2007, that exempts institutes designated as ‘centre of excellence’, from common admission tests or fee regulation.

The petition was filed by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student organisation of RSS.

Contesting the averments made in the petition, in an affidavit filed by Maulik Shah, deputy secretary of education department, has submitted that the tag of ‘Centre of Excellence’ will be granted to those universities that aim for “academic excellence” and contribute to research and innovation and even with this tag, it “does not automatically entail a blanket exemption of provisions of fee regulation provisions.

“…having regard to continuous technological innovation as well as professional competition, it was considered necessary to allow colleges, institutions, universities contributing extensively in areas of research and development, student start up and innovation, to determine their own admission process and regulate their fees,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit reasons that such an exemption has been provisioned for with the amendment so as to give institutions “flexibility” and to “cultivate an environment” that is best suited for “achieving academic excellence and furthering their research and innovation goals”.

It has also been submitted that institutions applying for the tag of ‘Centre of Excellence’ will have to undergo rigorous scrutiny of an extensive criteria list and will be decided upon by a committee comprising former director of IISc or IIM or IIT or IIIT or NIT, an ‘eminent educationist’ nominated by the state government, another member from the industry also nominated by the state government as well as education department member.

The education department has submitted that by provisioning certain exemptions to centre of excellence institutions, the state “seeks to strike a balance between interests of the students and the institutions that want to achieve academic excellence” and that the purpose of these exemptions is “not to enable profiteering by universities…”

It has been the case of petitioner ABVP that the amendment would only lead to “mushrooming of private universities which would become haphazard and uncontrolled and would ultimately contribute adverse to the quality of education.”

The matter is expected to be heard next on June 23.

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