Despite protests by teachers, Delhi University (DU) has signed a contentious tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with regard to its funding, it is learnt.
The Indian Express had reported in September last year that the MHRD had written to DU saying its funding would be withheld if it did not sign the agreement, which the DUTA termed “arm-twisting”. The DU Teachers’ Association (DUTA) and individual teacher groups have been protesting since last year.
Among the MoU’s most controversial features is a section called “exercise of enhanced autonomy and delegation of financial powers”, which asks universities to “ensure gradual annual increase in the user charges/fee charged by it for various courses and facilities”. It also mentions that release of funds and loans from Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) for expansion of infrastructure will depend on the institution’s performance.
While DU V-C Yogesh Tyagi did not respond to calls and texts, UGC secretary Rajnish Jain and sources in the MHRD confirmed that the MoU was signed last week. When asked to confirm if the MoU had been signed, Jain said, “Yes. That’s correct.” However, he did not respond to further queries asking whether the MoU signed was the original draft, or an amended version passed in July this year by DU’s EC.
The move has attracted criticism. EC members Rajesh Jha and J L Gupta Wednesday wrote to Tyagi, over the “grave compromises with the autonomy of the university”, alleging that the MoU imposed “privatisation and commercialisation”.
“This MoU will change the inclusive character of higher education in India… When the whole university community has rejected this MoU, the V-C should have gone for wider consultation…rather than signing it in a hush-hush manner,” they wrote.
DUTA President Rajib Ray too condemned the MoU: “We are yet to see which version was signed — the original or the diluted one approved by EC. Either way, we are opposed to this.”