Gujarat governor OP Kohli on Friday cleared the Gujarat State Higher Education Council Bill 2016 without any changes. The Bill was introduced last year by the BJP government led by Anandiben Patel and was passed in the Assembly in the absence of the opposition Congress members, who were suspended by the Speaker.
The Bill will bring all universities of the state under the ambit of a Higher Education Council, chaired by the chief minister. The Bill seeks to curtail the authority of vice-chancellors and will give sweeping powers to the Gujarat government.
Under the provisions of the Bill, the CM will be the president of the Council, while the other members of the Council will include the state education minister as the vice-president, minister of state for education as the co-vice-president and five vice-chancellors of state universities.
The Democratic Students Organisation (DSO) was the first to oppose the passage of the Bill, and sent a memorandum to education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama on Saturday, alleging it is against the autonomy of academic institutions.
Last year, soon after the passage of the Bill, the teaching and non-teaching staff of Gujarat University (GU) and other universities in the state had demanded the rollback of the Bill, alleging it was an attempt by the BJP government to “snatch” the autonomy of universities.
According to the Bill, one of the objectives of the Bill is to “carry out effective monitoring of the academic/administrative/financial performance of universities and affiliated colleges and to recommend remedial measures for better performance.” The directives of the state government will also override any existing laws governing universities.