The Centre has given itself the power to appoint key functionaries to five privately managed deemed universities that receive substantial government funding.
The education ministry will now appoint the chancellors and vice-chancellors at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra; Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad; Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore; and the Gurukula Kangri, Haridwar.
The ministry has acquired the power to make these appointments — thus giving itself a greater say in the functioning of these institutions — by amending the regulations for deemed universities.
Till now, the sponsoring trusts or societies of these five institutions used to appoint the chancellors and VCs.
Now, the government will do so for deemed universities that receive from it funds more than their own annual earnings, according to the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, notified last month by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
The VC is the principal executive officer of a university and has the responsibility to implement the decisions of the UGC and the government. Under the new rules, the government will constitute an inquiry and act if there’s any irregularity on a VC’s part.
A UGC official said the five deemed universities were not adequately responding to queries from the government and the UGC on allegations of financial mismanagement and issues related to the implementation of reservations.
“The government has been giving substantial funds to these five institutions but was unable to fix accountability. Now the VC, who will be appointed by the Centre, will be accountable to the government,” the official said.
He said the ministry would set up a search-cum-selection committee and later issue appointment letters after obtaining approval from the cabinet appointments committee, headed by the Prime Minister.
A senior official at one of these five deemed universities said the search-cum-selection panel, whose likely composition remains unclear so far, should include a nominated member from the university.
“We have shared our concerns with the UGC. We have said that our institution’s vision and mission should be safeguarded while appointing the VC,” the official said. “The search panel should have a representative from the institution. We hope the government accepts it.”
Sunil Kumar, registrar of the Gurukula Kangri, said the institution focused its education and research on Hindu culture, and wanted this tradition safeguarded after the government took over the key appointments.
“Our institution was set up by the Arya Samaj. From the beginning, we have focused our education and research on Vedic culture and Hindu tradition. This mission and vision should be safeguarded. We have informed the UGC about this,” Kumar said.
Former UGC secretary R.K. Chauhan welcomed the government move.
“This decision will reduce the monopoly of the sponsoring trusts and societies in running the institutions,” he said.
“In some institutions, the appointments of chancellors or VCs have become vexatious issues in recent years because of conflicts within the sponsoring bodies.”