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Monitor use of funds, Raju tells UGC

New Delhi, Dec. 9: Human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju has rapped the higher education regulator for its poor monitoring of funds utilisation by universities and casual attitude to filling vacancies and publicising its schemes, sources said.

Raju’s comments came at a meeting with University Grants Commission officials on Thursday, where the regulator’s acting chairman, Ved Prakash, made a presentation on its activities and schemes.

Prakash mentioned how the commission had released sums of Rs 35 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively, for Aligarh Muslim University’s campuses at Malappuram in Kerala and Murshidabad in Bengal.

At this point, Raju asked him how the money was being put to use and, generally, whether the regulator carried out any monitoring to ensure the central funds given to institutions were utilised well.

Caught unprepared, the commission officials fumbled for an answer, prompting the minister to say the regulator should not function merely as a grant-giving body.

Aligarh Muslim University sources said construction was on for the Malappuram campus but had been delayed in Murshidabad because of problems over land availability. Both centres have been operating from temporary campuses for the past two years.

The commission officials, however, did not have this information when they faced the minister’s queries.

Raju asked Prakash to put in place, within three months, a mechanism to monitor funds utilisation for all the commission’s schemes.

The regulator runs more than 60 schemes and disburses about Rs 10,000 crore a year to about 300 universities and 7,000 degree colleges. It is also supposed to frame quality regulations for universities.

Raju felt the commission should be more pro-active in evolving a vision for higher education.

The meeting also discussed the 100-odd vacant posts within the commission, which has failed to carry out adequate recruitment in the past 10 years. The minister asked Prakash to start filling the vacancies.

Raju was also unhappy that most of the commission’s schemes, apart from its scholarship programmes, had not been advertised online, which meant many students and institutions would not know about them.

Prakash assured Raju he would soon post information on all the schemes online.