As part of its efforts to introduce one legislation for all central universities, the Human Resource Development Ministry has circulated the draft bill to all such varsities, asking them to revert with suggestions within three weeks.
According to minutes of the retreat of vice-chancellors chaired by HRD Minister Smriti Irani in Chandigarh last week, the “Single Act for Central Universities has been circulated to all Central Universities for inviting their suggestions.”
The draft bill is based on recommendations of the A M Pathan committee and has been criticised for compromising the autonomy of these universities.
There are currently 40 central universities under the Ministry, of which 16 were created in 2009 under one Act, while the rest are governed by separate Acts of Parliament.
“No consensus has been evolved on the issue even though its clear the Ministry is keen on it. But yes, questions of autonomy and protecting the distinct character of each university cannot be ignored,” a V-C, who attended the retreat, said.
Officials said the idea behind a single legislation is to bring in “greater uniformity” in terms of structure and governance, even while retaining the universities’ academic autonomy. To “expedite the process” of appointments and ensure that the selection process is not upheld due to the unavailability of one nominee, the Ministry has decided to propose five names as Visitor’s nominees for selection committees, as against the one it proposes now.
“There was a common consensus that MHRD will propose a panel of five names as Visitor’s nominees for the Selection Committees of each university across the disciplines of academic as well as non-academic positions separately,” the minutes state.
“The idea is that if one member is not available then the next one on the panel can step in and the process doesn’t get held up,” an official said.
The Ministry has also directed the V-Cs to form a committee to prepare a proposal to convert posts of professor and associate professor to assistant professor. The committee will have to prepare a report and submit it to UGC in a month’s time.
Officials said the idea behind the proposal is to give greater flexibility in appointments by re-appropriating positions within the cadre. The availability of a large number of candidates for posts of assistant professor has also prompted this move. If the norm is implemented, a university would be free to appoint an assistant professor in place of a professor/associate professor if it is unable to get applicants for the latter.
Universities have also been asked to send all MoUs signed by them in the last 20-25 years to the Ministry within one month.
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