Vice Chancellors appointment: Caught in the crossfire

Academicians here are divided over State and Centre’s policy on education and appointment of Vice Chancellors to State-run universities
Vice Chancellors appointment:  Caught in the crossfire
Illustration: Saai

CHENNAI: A senior professor in a State-run university, seeking anonymity, said the difference of opinion between the government and the Governor affects the institution’s administration.

The rift between the State and Centre over appointment of Vice Chancellor’s and the implementation of National Education Policy had brought new administrative headaches to higher educational institutions.

“It’s very strange and unfortunate that Tamil Nadu Assembly recently passed a series of bills empowering the State government to appoint VCs of State universities directly without the concurrence of the Governor-Chancellor,” opined Professor E Balagurusamy, former Vice Chancellor, Anna University and former member, Union Public Service Commission.

He said the Governor as Chancellor is the head of all State universities and the practice of appointing Vice Chancellors by the Governor has been in vogue for decades across the country.

“What’s the urgent need for changing a time-tested procedure now? Examples cited by the ministers for bringing such bills are wrong and irrelevant,” he explained.

“Only motive of this ill-advised decision of the government appears to be Governor-bashing by undermining his role and importance.”

Stating that it’s immaterial who appoints Vice Chancellors as long as persons of high integrity with required knowledge, experience and leadership skills are chosen for these coveted posts, Balagurusamy pointed out. “If the past is of any indication, the appointment of Vice Chancellors by the State government would certainly bring back the notorious system of corruption, nepotism and favouritism and would lead to a large-scale erosion of autonomy and integrity of the university system in Tamil Nadu. This would result in deterioration of quality of higher education which is already in a bad state.”

However, PB Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary, State Platform for Common School System-Tamil Nadu (SPCSSTN), averred that the Governor was part of the executive and must discharge his duties with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.

“Despite knowing the policies of the State government, the Governor is causing all kinds of hindrance for the elected Government,” he alleged. “Several Bills, including the one that paves the way for admission into undergraduate medical courses, is unduly delayed causing great anxiety and trouble to aspirants. The Governor, while participating in any function or event in his ex-officio capacity, is not supposed to instigate people against the elected government of the State.”

While the State government had already constituted a high-level committee to formulate State specific education policy and raising serious apprehensions regarding NEP 2020, he stated, “The Governor is using every platform including convocation ceremonies to campaign with the audience to accept NEP 2020.”

A senior professor in a State-run university, seeking anonymity, told DT Next that the difference of opinion between the government and the Governor affects the institution’s administration.

“On one hand, the UGC literally threatens to freeze funding if the NEP 2020 was not implemented. And then, there’s always the chance that if the new education policy was adopted, there’d be some financial assistance from the State government,” added the professor, who also revealed that certain universities have already adopted NEP without the knowledge of the authorities in the State.

Adding to the woes is the State’s exclusive education policy, which is expected to be implemented only in 2024.

“Until then, it’d be difficult for universities and its affiliated colleges to function,” he lamented. “The syndicate and other official meetings regarding university functioning will also be affected as representatives from the Governor side and officials from the State government will have differences of opinion, which will delay important decision making of the institution.”

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