The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM asks for leash on private quotas

New Delhi, Aug. 27: The CPM has urged the Centre to “immediately introduce” a legislation to regulate fees and management quotas in private institutions.

“The regulation should enable state governments to regulate admission and fees in all private higher educational institutions, aided or unaided,” the CPM has said in a booklet on reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) in education.

The CPM wants the United Progressive Alliance government to follow up the OBC bill with another to control the private institutions as part of its commitment to social justice. “Regulation of the burgeoning ‘educational industry’ to meet the needs of social justice is an urgent necessity,” the booklet says.

“Crass commercialisation of higher education has closed the doors on a large number of deserving students irrespective of their background. Even when they have the necessary qualifications and merit.”

The CPM cited the Kerala Professional Colleges or Institutions Act, 2006, passed by the Left Democratic Front government, as an example. “The act provides for a ban on capitation fees and for regulation of fees charged by the private professional institutions.”

Under the act, the private institutions have to give freeships to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, backward caste and economically weaker students. It also requires these institutions to select candidates on the basis of tests conducted by the government, the CPM pointed out.

“The landmark legislation can serve as a model for regulating of the burgeoning private sector,” it said.

The human resource development ministry, however, is treading cautiously on intervening in private institutions’ affairs. Also, the Centre cannot deal with the matter unilaterally. States will have to draw up their own bills.

Last year, the apex court had scrapped quotas in unaided institutions. The government had replied with the 93rd constitutional amendment bill and then the bill ensuring 27 per cent quota for OBCs in higher educational institutions.

The HRD ministry kept unaided institutions out of the purview of the quota bill, apprehending that clubbing them with the aided institutions may attract court action.

The ministry has already prepared a bill to regulate foreign providers. The bill, after being presented to the cabinet, has been referred to a group of ministers.

A lobby within the United Progressive Alliance believes that regulating foreign providers will scare them away from India.

But the HRD ministry believes that regulation is a must if the government believes in treating the foreign providers on a par with the Indian providers and wants the “fly-by-night” operators to stay out.

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