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JU teachers on clash course for autonomy

A section of Jadavpur University teachers has resolved to oppose the government’s move to include its nominees in the panels that will select vice-chancellors and deans of state universities on the grounds that it would curb the autonomy of the institutions.

The CPM-controlled Jadavpur University Teachers’ Association (Juta) on Wednesday adopted a resolution to launch a movement demanding withdrawal of the clauses in the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2012, that seek to empower the government to include its nominees in the panels. The bill was passed by the Assembly last month.

Higher education minister Bratya Basu, in response to a question on why the amendments had been brought, said after the House approved the legislation: “The state government should have a say in the selection process.”

“We will not accept the bill as it curbs the autonomy of the universities,” Juta general secretary Parthapratim Biswas said.

The teachers who attended the Juta meeting during the day decided to start their protest by submitting a memorandum to vice-chancellor Souvik Bhattacharya.

“After submitting the memorandum to our VC, we will seek appointments with education minister Bratya Basu and chancellor M.K. Narayanan to explain to them why we are opposed to the inclusion of government nominees in the selection panels,” said Biswas.

The association will decide its course of action based on the response from the VC, minister and the governor.

The association feels the bill should be revoked as some of its clauses contradict the corresponding provisions in the Jadavpur University Act.

The act, the members point out, states that all members of the faculty councils have to be elected. The bill, on the other hand, says the deans, who are also vice-chairpersons of the faculty councils, will be selected by a panel comprising nominated members.

“The deans function as the academic leaders of the faculties. If the deans are selected by a nominated body, they might not enjoy the confidence of the elected members of the faculty councils,” said a member of the association.

Pointing out another “flaw” in the bill, the teachers said the Jadavpur University Act states that the pro-VC will double as the vice-chairperson of the engineering faculty.

The bill, however, says the dean will be the vice-chairperson of the faculty councils. “The clause in the bill that says the deans will be vice-chairpersons of the faculty councils should have been included through an amendment of the corresponding provisions in the act,” said a teacher.