Maharashtra has asked the HRD ministry to allow it to bend norms for hiring college principals. The state is driven into desperation by a shockingly high number of colleges, which have neither heads nor qualified candidates.
The state has told the ministry 1741 of its colleges currently have no heads because of the absence of eligible candidates. IT asked the Centre to relax norms that require college principals to hold PhDs, sources said.
Maharashtra has a total of over 2000 colleges, sources said, and the number cited by the state as having no principals represents a vast majority — suggesting the state’s undergraduate educational institutions are largely leaderless.
The ministry has asked the University Grants Commission to study the Maharashtra request but the Centre is unlikely to agree to the proposal.
“There clearly appears to be a desperate situation in Maharashtra with so many colleges without full-fledged Principals. But the proposal to relax eligibility criteria seems problematic,” an official said.
UGC and HRD ministry officials said relaxing eligibility norms for Maharashtra could have long term adverse consequences both for that state and for the rest of the country. Relaxing the norms now may encourage other states to bend norms instead of working to find the best candidates.
“Hiring principals at such a large number of colleges is also likely to create a problem at these colleges in future and could affect the overall quality of Maharashtra’s higher education system,” a source said.
The HRD ministry and UGC are instead likely to propose that the state government appoint acting principals from among the senior faculty members at the colleges, while it hunts for qualified candidates to hold the top job.