The state government has paved the way for reputed urban higher education institutions and colleges to start satellite centres in rural and tribal regions across Maharashtra.
A government notification issued by the Higher & Technical Education Department Friday prescribed procedures and criteria for approval of new satellite centres from the next academic year, three years after the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, was enacted.
A “satellite centre”, as per the Act, is an integral part of an affiliated or conducted college or recognised institution imparting academic programmes, co-curricular, research, and extension activities in the rural or tribal region, neighbouring the location of such college or institution, established with the objective of reaching the unreached, on the terms and conditions specified by the state government by an order in the official gazette.
The applications for starting satellite centres will be scrutinised by a Board of Deans of the university concerned within a limited time period, the notification states. Colleges or institutions will be required to submit the required documents by October 15 every year to the respective vice-chancellor for starting a centre the next year. A detailed timeline has been notified for the procedure.
In the five-year perspective plan announced by universities, they have been mandated to measure Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) — an indicator of the spread of higher education in a given region. Priority to start satellite centres will be given in rural and tribal areas where the GER is less than the state’s average.
The centres, which need to be established within 200 km radius of the university, will also cater to online and open-distance learning facilities as recommended by the National Education Policy, the notification said.
Only after an institution runs one satellite centre in a satisfactory manner for at least a period of three years, will it be given permission to start another such centre. In the first five years, a satellite centre will be given approval for starting traditional courses, research, extension and co-curricular activities, certificate courses for skill education and development, among other things. Priority will be given to start courses that promote skill development among youth, it added.
Educationist Anil Rao, part of the three-member committee formed by the government to submit a report on starting satellite centres, said, “We had submitted the report in 2017. The government has adopted major recommendations in the report, and this move will enable colleges in ivory towers to take their institutes to rural areas. Migration of students to cities will also be brought under control, thereby increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio in such regions.”
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