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House passes three new varsity bills

Shillong, Sept. 15: The Assembly today passed the state-sponsored Captain Williamson Sangma Technical University Bill, 2011 and two private university bills to set up the Rajit Lal University and International Open University.

While the Capt. Williamson Sangma Technical University Bill, 2011 was passed by the Assembly without any detailed project report on the manner of functioning of the university, the amendments brought by the Opposition on the two proposed private universities were not accepted by the government.

Bringing the amendment to the clauses of the Capt. Williamson Sangma Technical University Bill, 2011, leader of Opposition, Conrad Sangma wanted to know whether any detailed project report was prepared before the state government tabled the bill.

Education minister R.C. Laloo said the education department was preparing the draft project report.

Sangma reiterated that according to the norms, the project report had to be ready before the government could go ahead with passing the bill.

Independent legislator Manas Chaudhuri also brought another amendment motion to the bill by saying the state reservation policy should be applicable to the Capt. Williamson Sangma Technical University as well.

Chaudhuri also wanted to know who would bear the recurring expenditure of the university as the government would provide funds only in the initial stages.

Laloo said since the proposed university would be starting with courses on life sciences, besides research, the state reservation policy would not be applicable.

In a further discussion on the mushrooming of private varsities in the state, Chaudhuri pointed out that the government decision to pass a bill to facilitate the setting up of private universities was based on the recommendations of a former Meghalaya governor.

Chaudhuri said before giving a nod to the recommendations, the state government should have constituted a body to examine the credentials of the sponsors of the universities.

He also suggested that there should be a controlling body to examine the status of the private universities in the state.

“We need a mechanism to check the antecedents of those who desire to set up private universities in the state. Let there be a moratorium on further introduction of bills to set up private varsities in the state. Moreover, there should be an institutional mechanism to have a check on the mushrooming of private universities,” Chaudhuri said.

NCP legislator James Sangma, doubting the credentials of the two proposed private universities, said the government should have gathered more information on the people setting up these universities.

He said there was no permanent campus of the Rajit Lal University anywhere else in the country, adding that at least seven out of the eight private universities currently operating in the state had not got recognition from the University Grants Commission.

Sangma also reminded the government about the sorry state of affairs of another private university, C.M. Jha University.

Jha, secretary of the North Eastern India Trust for Education and Development, had faced charges for non-payment of the loan that he had taken from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited (Hudco) in 2003-04. According to Sangma, Jha was also arrested in this regard.

Referring to the proposed International Open University, Sangma said the government appeared to be in a hurry to pass the bill related to the private university.

NCP legislator John Manner Marak said many students had been affected in the past as the degrees provided by such private universities were not accepted by the UGC.

KHNAM legislator Paul Lyngdoh said there was a need on the part of the education department to evaluate the performance of the private universities in the state.

“We should not pass the bills without evaluating the merits and demerits of the universities coming up in the state,” he said.

In his reply, the education minister assured that the suggestion of the members about a regulatory body to monitor the functioning of the universities would be examined and considered.

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