December 31, 2021 7:50:02 am
At a time when the issue of political interference affecting the autonomy of academic institutions has taken centrestage in several states — from Kerala, West Bengal to Maharashtra — a letter has been sent by former University Grants Commission (UGC) vice-chairman and leading academic Dr Bhushan Patwardhan to the chairman and secretary of UGC, asking for uniform regulations to be brought in for appointment of academic leaders in higher educational institutions. The letter also highlights the need for a National Model University Act.
“To maintain and enhance quality, it is crucial for any higher educational institution to minimise external interference, especially in appointments of key leadership positions such as Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, etc. However, currently, there are no uniform standards or regulations for this purpose. As a result, education being a concurrent subject, different state governments have different legislations… Any external interference or influence in appointments of academic leadership positions can have a long-term detrimental impact on the whole educational eco-system…There is a need for a National Model University Act,” reads the letter.
A copy of the letter is with The Indian Express. Patwardhan later confirmed that he had sent the letter to the UGC.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “I have already expressed my concern in public over what is happening in many states in terms of amendments to the public universities Act or key appointments like vice-chancellors. In Karnataka, where I was on a search committee for vice-chancellor recently, we even made an official recommendation for the same. In Maharashtra, where the state University Act is being amended, some provisions are not only retrograde but detrimental… Since the UGC Act provides a mandate of promoting and coordinating university education, determining and maintaining standards and framing regulations on minimum standards, I have requested that they bring in uniform regulations immediately to the appointments of academic leaders in universities, followed by a National Model University Act”.