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Flicker of light for varsities

Devanand Konwar’s exit and D.Y. Patil’s entry into Bihar’s Raj Bhavan has raised hopes for higher education — a sphere long muddied by appointment of vice-chancellors and pro-vice-chancellors of dubious reputation, not to forget the endless wars between the government and chancellor’s office on, virtually, every issue.

Academicians remain apprehensive, but university education in Bihar could get a new lease of life in the coming months if the government’s plans materialise at the ground level.

The education department hopes appointment of VCs and pro-VCs through search committees and filling up vacant posts of university teachers through the Bihar Public Service Commission would bring about a sea change.

Raj Bhavan last month constituted search committees to select VCs and pro-VCs of 11 universities. They ensured that no local academic or former VC from the state was made chairman of the panel. Set up on the Supreme Court’s directive, the committees are headed by eminent and nationally reputed academicians, including Jawaharlal Nehru University VC Prof. Sudhir Kumar Sopory, who will lead the two separate panels to select VCs and pro-VCs for Patna University and BN Mandal University, Madhepura, respectively.

Similarly, Lucknow-based Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University VC Prof. R.C. Sobti is heading the committee for three universities — Magadh University (Bodhgaya), BR Ambedkar Bihar University (Muzaffarpur) and JP University (Chhapra).

However, retired IAS officer Abhimanyu Singh, who is also former vice-chancellor of Magadh University, doubts whether people with a good academic records necessarily make able administrators. “Even if the search panel appoints qualified academicians as VCs, it does not necessarily mean they will be able administrators,” he said.

But students are hopeful of a better future. Kumar Gaurav from Patna University’s journalism department said: “The university might, at last, get permanent teachers. There is a severe shortage of teachers and various departments have to bank on research scholars or external agencies.”