The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 9 , 2010
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flexibility for PM’s innovation varsities

New Delhi, June 8: A new breed of “innovation” universities promised by the Prime Minister to spearhead cutting-edge research will be exempt from regulations mandatory for all other varsities, under a draft legislation pencilled by the human resource development ministry.

The regulations on teacher appointments, pay, student fees, course structure or infrastructural requirements will not be binding on these universities according to the bill, government sources told The Telegraph.

These varsities will, however, have to pick vice-chancellors through a mechanism laid down in the bill.

The innovation universities were earlier christened “world class universities” and represent Manmohan Singh’s vision to transform India into a global knowledge hub. These varsities will focus on collaborative research involving academicians from different countries.

Unlike traditional universities in India, these varsities will each have a focus area. They will offer a bouquet of programmes across streams but related to their focus area.

Climate studies, city planning, design and even animation are subjects which the HRD ministry is already mulling over as possible focus areas for these varsities. An innovation university on climate studies would offer courses tackling the economic, scientific, political — domestic and international — sociological and other aspects of the subject.

The ministry had earlier outlined plans to exempt the innovation universities from many rules binding on other varsities. But the draft legislation for the first time details how these varsities will be different in their governance.

“The bill will not create innovation universities…. It will merely facilitate the creation of these varsities,” a source explained.

Once the bill is passed by Parliament, the government will not need to bring a new law each time a new innovation university — public, private or set up through a public-private partnership — is to be started.

The ministry will merely table a draft memorandum of agreement with the new innovation university before the Parliament, which must approve before the varsity can start.

The innovation varsity bill, however, does require all such universities, including those which are privately run, to select vice-chancellors through the same mechanism as other varsities.

Under a proposed new overarching higher education regulator, the National Commission for Higher Education and Research, all central university vice-chancellors will be picked by a collegium of experts from a registry of potential candidates.

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