The Punjab Assembly on Tuesday passed the Rayat-Bahra University Bill 2014 and GNA University Bill amid stiff opposition from Congress and serious reservations by the MLAs of ruling SAD-BJP combine.
The bills were presented on Tuesday, the concluding day of the budget session in Punjab Vidhan Sabha by the Punjab higher education minister Surjeet Singh Rakhra, but was vehemently opposed by the opposition benches.
Treasury benches also faced opposition on the issue of setting up of private educational universities from some of its own MLAs, who said education should not be turned into a profitable venture and demanded setting up of a regulatory commission to protect the interest of students.
Congress MLA Kuljeet Singh Nagra said private universities in the state have become commercial activities.
"There is no control over the private universities' fee structure, funds and no admission criteria," he said, adding the state government should have access to the financial information about the trust which sets up private universities.
Opposing setting up of private universities, BJP MLA Manoranjan Kalia demanded that commercialisation of education should stop, saying everybody now seems after setting up of private universities in the state.
Kalia demanded that a regulatory authority should be formed in order to monitor the activities of private universities in the state.
Kalia alleged that foreign students, including those from Nigeria, get admission in private universities and then drive other students to drugs.
Speaking on the issue, Congress MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar also backed setting up of a regulatory commission to keep a check on private universities.
Akali MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu said, "Private universities should set up standards of education and there needs to be a check on their fee structure. A high powered committee should be formed to monitor these universities."
Supporting private universities, Punjab industries minister Madan Mohan Mittal thanked the people who set up private universities and create educational infrastructure in the state.
Amid exchange of heated words with the opposition members, Mittal noted that the state government did not have sufficient funds to spend on education.
"It (private universities) is a big revolution in the state," he said.
Punjab education minister Daljeet Singh Cheema reminded the opposition members that Rayat Bahra was already running three educational institutions in the state. However, both the bills were passed by the assembly.