September 28, 2021 1:04:15 am
In a move that Opposition Congress described as “rectifying the mistakes made by the Rupani government in Gujarat”, the new government led by Bhupendra Patel on Monday tabled the Gujarat Private Universities (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021, which reverses an amendment made earlier this year and “restores the affiliation” of grant-in-aid colleges and institutions to government-run universities.
Though Congress objected to the “rampant privatisation” of educational institutions in Gujarat, they supported the fresh amendments tabled by the ruling party in the Gujarat Assembly on Monday, and the Bill was passed unanimously.
Introducing the Bill, Education Minister Jitubhai Vaghani said, “Grant-in-aid colleges are usually affiliated to government universities. However, the sponsoring bodies of some private universities had requested the government that the grant-in-aid colleges functioning from the same campus of these private universities should be affiliated to them instead of the government to ease administrative work. After pondering over the issue, the government brought in the Gujarat Private Universities (Amendment) Act, 2021… The first amendment came into effect from June 1, 2021.”
Explaining the reason behind the move to table a second amendment that corrects the amendment made in sub-section (5) of Section 3 of Gujarat Private Universities Act, 2009, the minister said, “However, later the government received representations from various associations, staff and student bodies of grant-in-aid colleges. There were apprehensions about the very existence of grant-in-aid colleges, the future of the grants received from UGC, salaries, filing of vacancies, process of deciding tuition fee, etc. Requests for reversing the earlier amendment and restoring the original affiliation of the grant-in-aid colleges were also made.”
Vaghani said the government was taking the decision with “openness” which also “reflects the sensitivity of the government”. As the House was not in session earlier, the Gujarat government had also brought in Gujarat Private Universities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021 and the Bill introduced on Monday seeks to replace the Ordinance by an Act.
Opposition Congress members who spoke while discussing the amendment said they will not oppose the amendments brought in by the Bhupendra Patel government as they were in line with the demands of the party.
Congress MLA from Rajkot, Lalit Kagathara, said, “I congratulate you for beginning to make changes to the decisions made by the Rupani government… Education has become business in the state. A middle-class family spends 75 per cent of their budget on the education of their children.”
“Grant-in-aid colleges were handed over to private universities. It was a mistake by the government… Due to the stress on privatisation, the government is seeing only short-term gains, but in the long-term, it will hurt Gujarat and its people,” said CJ Chavda, Congress MLA from Gandhinagar North assembly constituency. Leader of the Opposition Paresh Dhanani said the Congress was against privatisation of education.
Bhupendrasinh Chudasama who was the education minister when the first amendment was passed told the House that the decision was taken not to promote privatisation but to smoothen administrative processes of universities.
“I had justified it then. But what we are doing today is an example that the government believes fully in democratic processes. I have personally heard various associations for four long hours along with the officials… We felt that their representations were true,” Chudasama told the House.
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