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Friday, October 22, 2021

Explained: Why Gujarat has revoked an ordinance allowing grant-in-aid colleges to affiliate with private universities

On May 13, 2021, the state government, through an ordinance, amended the 2009 Act, deleting the clause exempting the grant-in-aid colleges and institutions from affiliating to universities established by their sponsoring bodies.

Written by Ritu Sharma , Edited by Explained Desk | Ahmedabad |
Updated: October 6, 2021 1:17:23 pm
This ordinance was deemed to have come into effect on August 25, 2021. (Representational Image)

Within four months of the Vijay Rupani government passing an ordinance allowing grant-in-aid colleges to affiliate with private universities, the Gujarat Legislative Assembly last week unanimously revoked the Gujarat Private Universities (Second Amendment) Bill 2021 following representations from many quarters.

The original sub-section 5 of the Gujarat Private Universities Act 2009 had stated that, “The constituent colleges and institutions of the sponsoring body, affiliated to and enjoying the privileges of any University immediately before the establishment of the University shall cease to be affiliated from that university and shall be deemed to be withdrawn from such privileges from the date of establishment of such university and shall be deemed to be admitted to the privileges of corresponding university of the respective sponsoring body and all such colleges and institutions shall be the constituent colleges and institutions of that university”. But since there was ambiguity pertaining to the affiliation of grant-in-aid colleges in this Act, an amendment was made in 2011 where “except grant in aid colleges and institutions” was added.

On May 13, 2021, the state government, through an ordinance, amended the 2009 Act, deleting the clause exempting the grant-in-aid colleges and institutions from affiliating to universities established by their sponsoring bodies. This allowed grant-in-aid colleges to switch affiliations from state-run universities to private ones. This ordinance was deemed to have come into effect on August 25, 2021.

Why was the ordinance enacted in the first place?

Colleges in Gujarat are traditionally run by education societies or trusts set up decades back by industrialists and philanthropists. These colleges would also be affiliated with government-run universities.

Over a period of time, however, the same industrial houses behind the trusts also set up their own universities. The demand for relaxing the clause for grant-in-aid colleges pertaining to their affiliation started gaining ground after 2018 when Atmiya University was set up by Rajkot’s Sarvodaya Kelavani Samaj. Even after this private university was set up and most of the trusts colleges were affiliated with it, Atmiya’s group’s own Shree Manibhai Virani and Smt Navalben Virani Science Colleges continued to be affiliated to the Saurashtra University in Rajkot.

In the education hub of Vallabh Vidyanagar, the Charutar Vidya Mandal trust, despite starting its own university the Charutar Vidyamandal (CVM) University in 2019, had its grant-in-aid colleges affiliated to the stat-run Gujarat Technological University and Sardar Patel University while. Its private colleges were linked to the new CVM University.

Of late, however, the state universities stopped granting affiliation to grant-in-aid colleges of the CVM over political differences. And this triggered the need for grant-in-aid colleges to affiliate with private universities.

Following the first amendment, the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University initiated the process of changing the affiliation of its grant-in-aid colleges to private universities while the two grant-in-aid colleges run by Ahmedabad Education Society (AES) MG Science and LD College of Engineering, both affiliated to Gujarat University, were keen to shift their affiliation to Ahmedabad University, AES’s newly-established private university.

However, here teachers’ associations and state universities opposed the move to change the affiliation of these premier institutes. The grant-in-aid institutes charge a nominal fee compared to private ones. Though the state government assured there would be no hike in fee after the change in affiliation, with no fee regulatory body for non-technical private institutes, the teachers’ association did not show much faith in these assurances.

The protests

The agitation led by the Gujarat Rajya Adhyapak Mahamandal, a professors’ association of grant-in-aid colleges, demanded a written assurance from the state government that after the change in affiliation of grant-in-aid colleges, there will be no impact on service and salary rules of teaching and non-teaching faculty and also that there will be no hike in fees.

Gujarat has over 356 non-technical grant-in-aid colleges run by different trusts where the entire salary is funded by the state and central government along with the running costs. On the other hand, there are nearly 12 government non-technical colleges and more than 1000 private colleges affiliated to 42 private universities run by trusts from among the over 80 total universities in the state.

Why has the amendment been revoked

The second amendment has been brought in ostensibly ‘to resolve administrative exigencies brought out in the said representations made to the state government necessary amendment was made’. It was called the ‘second amendment’ as when the ordinance was issued in May, the house was not in session.

“However, during the implementation of this amendment, various representations have been received from some of the grant-in-aid colleges or institutions of the sponsoring bodies and from certain stakeholders for restoring their affiliation and the privileges enjoyed by said colleges and institutions in the Universities prior to the commencement of the said amendment,” the Bill, passed on September 27, reads. Almost as an afterthought, it adds: “Having said that, with the fact that the grant-in-aid colleges and institutions received a grant from the state government, it is considered necessary to restore the affiliation of such colleges and institutions with the universities to which they were affiliated prior to the date of commencement of this amendment.”

Who loses, who wins?

With the new amendment suspending affiliation of grant-in-aid colleges with private universities, the latter claims the management and running of such colleges by education trusts would continue to be “difficult”. If implemented, it would have been a win-win situation for both government and private universities, stated one of the education trusts office-bearers. The state government bears the entire expenses of salaries and operational costs and the private universities would have got better control over these institutes. However, now the grant-in-aid colleges would end up becoming private colleges in this scenario.

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