Calcutta, April 1: The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government has set in motion at the undergraduate level the process of privatisation of higher education.
Officials said two proposals by private promoters for setting up fully independent, self-financed undergraduate general degree colleges have been cleared. One college will be in Taratala and the other in Howrah.
A minister confirmed the government’s clearance but refused to say more because of the model code of conduct for elections. At present, there is no undergraduate private college anywhere in the state that can be termed fully self-financed.
Since the proposed colleges will be located in and around Calcutta, they will be affiliated to Calcutta University.
The government has asked the university to amend rules to bring the two self-financed colleges under its jurisdiction.
As the government will not finance the two colleges, the institutions are likely to be allowed to have their own fee structure, independent of policing by the university.
“The existing rules of Calcutta University have no provision for self-financed colleges as all our over 200 affiliates get assistance from the government some way or the other. Our rules need to be changed for bringing the new group of self-financing colleges under our purview. We will soon sit with experts and decide how the statute can be amended,” said Suranjan Das, the university’s pro-vice chancellor and chairman of the committee that has been set up by the syndicate to review the matter.
Education department officials said the government had set one condition on the self-financed colleges.
“We told them that courses which deal with emerging areas like bio-technology, molecular biology and business administration will have to be taught,” an official said.
Till now, the government’s policy was not to allow fully privatised general degree colleges as it felt that independent fee structures might make such institutions less accessible to students from under-privileged families.
All general degree colleges, including those run by Christian missionaries, get assistance from the government for paying salaries to teachers and non-teaching employees. The government spends over Rs 400 crore on the general degree colleges in the state.
Calcutta University officials, however, feel that amending the statute is a complex task. Several fundamental changes have to made in rules related fees, salaries and governing bodies.
B.D. Tikmany, an official of Radhakrishna Charitable Trust that will open the college in Howrah, said: “We are happy that the government has accepted our proposal. We will run honours courses in BA, BSc and BCom.”