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Stage set for two private varsities

The Assembly has passed two private university bills on two consecutive days: the Seacom Skills University Bill, 2013, on Friday and the Adamas University Bill, 2014, on Thursday.

Seacom Skills University will be set up by the Seacom Marine College Trust and Adamas University by the Sachis Kiron Roy Memorial Trust, which is associated with the Roy’s Institutions of Competitive Examinations, better known as the Rice Group.

“The demand for higher education is increasing every year as there has been more than 100 per cent increase in the number of successful candidates in the Higher Secondary exams since 2006. We need more colleges and universities to overcome the shortage of seats. Since the government funding is not enough to set up the required number of institutions, there is a need to set up more private universities,” higher education minister Bratya Basu said in the Assembly during the debate on the Adamas University Bill on Friday.

The gazette notifications for the two universities are likely to be issued in three months. Before starting the courses, the universities will have to obtain UGC approval.

Officials of both institutions said the universities could start functioning in the upcoming academic session.

The Techno India University was the first private university set up under state legislation, passed in 2012.

Adamas University will be set up in Barasat, while the Seacom Skills University will come up at Kendradangal in Birbhum, near Santiniketan.

The Seacom Skills University will initially offer undergraduate courses in science, social science technology and management and later in medicine, said Anish Chakraborty, the chairman of the Seacom group of institutions. “The courses we would offer will be a combination of conventional education and skill-based training.”

The group with seven campuses has invested Rs 100 crore for setting up the university across 100 acres. Another Rs 1,000 crore will be invested over the next five years.

Samit Ray, the chairman of the Adamas group, said Adamas University would offer general degree courses in science, social science and engineering and technology.

The Rice Group has long been associated with training students for competitive exams. “Since this is our specialised area, we will teach certain subjects that will help students compete in the state and national-level competitive exams,” said Ray.

The bills specify that students will have to be admitted on the basis of merit. The universities can follow their own admission procedure or take students through state or national-level entrance tests.

A fourth of the seats will have to be set aside for students domiciled in the state, and five per cent for economically backward students. The sponsoring trusts, the bills say, will have absolute powers to appoint chancellor, vice-chancellor, teachers and non-teaching staff.

“The universities will enjoy complete academic autonomy, include the freedom to frame their syllabi and design their courses,” said an official.

The visitor of the universities will be the governor, who will have the power to ask for any paper or information related to the functioning of the institutions and take appropriate action.

The governing councils of the universities will have three persons nominated by the state government.