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Governor, govt okay to foreigner as Presi VC

Governor M.K. Narayanan and minister Bratya Basu

The governor and the government both are agreeable to a foreigner heading Presidency University, education minister Bratya Basu said on Thursday.

“The governor has no problem if a foreigner is appointed as the first full-term vice-chancellor of Presidency. The government, too, is open to this,” Basu said after meeting governor M.K. Narayanan, who is also chancellor of Presidency and other state universities.

In his speech at the Jadavpur University convocation on Tuesday, the governor had stressed the need to hire teachers from abroad to raise the academic standard of the institution.

A search panel will soon be set up to shortlist candidates for the governor to select Presidency’s first full-term VC.

The panel will comprise a representative each of the government, the governor and the university.

The extended term of Malabika Sarkar, Presidency’s second interim vice-chancellor after Amita Chatterjee, will end on February 15.

Education minister Basu discussed with the chancellor how to complete the process of selecting the VC within February 15. “We want to complete the process by February 15,” said Basu.

The minister said the possibility of a foreigner steering the College Street institution came up at a recent meeting he held with the mentor group regarding the selection of vice-chancellor.

Sources said the mentors were keen on knowing the authorities’ stand on the issue, though the chancellor’s approval and the government’s nod do not necessarily mean that a foreigner would be at the helm of Presidency.

Amartya Sen, the adviser to the chair of the Presidency mentor group, and Harvard professor Sugata Bose, the chairman of the mentor group, will hold a meeting on December 30 in Calcutta to discuss the appointment of Presidency’s vice-chancellor, a source at the university said.

Central government rules state that a foreign national on an employment visa in India must get a minimum salary of $25,000 — around Rs 15 lakh — a year.

Two foreign nationals had earlier applied for the post of assistant professor at Presidency.

But they could not join as the annual pay offered to assistant professors in a state university is less than $25,000 a year.

An official in the higher education department said rules would not come in the way of a foreigner being appointed as vice-chancellor because the pay scale matches the home ministry norms on minimum pay.

Minister Basu said he has requested Narayanan to send the name of his nominee for the search committee soon.

The mentor group chairman, Sugata Bose, has been requested to send the name of the representative of the university’s governing board.