The HRD panel headed by NR Madhav Menon which is working on "Evolve a Comprehensive Policy for Autonomy of Central Educational Institutions" has suggested that the concept of office of the visitor in central universities should be removed. At present, the President is the visitor to all central universities. The committee has recommended that the powers of the visitor be transferred to the Chancellor. The powers of the visitor include appointing the vice-chancellor, certain members of the court, executive council, finance committee, selection committees.
The visitor also has the power to order enquiries and institute inspections, give or withhold assent to the statutes, arbitrate disputes between selection committees and executive councils on the appointment of teachers and annul any proceeding of the universities which is not in conformity with the laws and regulations.
The committee has also pointed out that instead of appointing civil service officials to university positions a pool of education-administrators with expertise in managing educational and research institutions should be created that will handle the administrative offices in the universities. It has also recommended establishing an office of ombudsman in each central university to intervene in crisis situations.
"There is a need to free universities and central educational institutions from extensive control from outside for which statutes establishing them have to be revisited. Clauses subversive to institutional autonomy need to be repealed or modified to enable institutions to function with freedom and accountability.
In this process, it is desirable to ensure that the membership of academic bodies is strictly restricted to eminent academicians and independent experts," the committee states in its report to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal. The committee has also pitched for setting up of Central Universities Council, on lines of the IIT Council.
Barring the 14 universities set up under the Central Universities Act, 2009, each of the remaining central universities has been set up under separate Acts of Parliament. While there are historical reasons for this, the committee is of the view that it is now time to bring in some uniformity in the legal framework and subsume all these separate legislations into one.
On the matter of autonomy in academic issues, the committee suggested that all central universities adopt a system of choice-based credit courses along with semester system. This would help promote flexibility in the academic structure and promote students mobility.
The committee has suggested switching over to complete internal evaluation of students with faculty members having full autonomy in evaluation matters. In the transition period, it has suggested a mix of internal and external evaluation. The committee has said all faculty members shall be subjected to a review once every five years by a review committee appointed by the executive council.
The committee has recommended that universities should be free to decide fees, scholarships and recoveries. All this will have to be in line with the broad policy guidelines of the government.It has also suggested that all central universities undergo a comprehensive review of their functioning once every 10 years by an external agency.
The other members of the committee are Seyed E Hasnain, Pankaj Chandra, MS Ananth, Mihir Choudhary and Ved Prakash.
[Source: Economic Times]