A day after the state assembly passed the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, officials at the University of Mumbai (MU) said it would take about six months for the new law to be fully implemented. The varsity’s first development will be to fill up important positions that are currently lying vacant owing to the delay in the enactment of the law.
The crucial posts of pro vice-chancellor and Controller of Examination (COE) are among those that are vacant. “We are happy that the universities bill has got the final nod from the legislative councils. Once the act is in place, we will waste no time in getting the university to function smoothly again,” said M A Khan, registrar, MU. He added that it would take at least six months to get the vacant positions filled. “While this current batch had to face difficulties owing to a shortage of staff, we hope we receive no such complaints henceforth,” he added.
The bill was first tabled at the winter legislative session in Nagpur in December 2015, but could not be discussed owing to a lack of time. The bill was brought up in budget session in March once again, where it was decided that the bill be placed in front of a joint select committee. The committee was set up to look at objections to provisions of the act, if any, and make changes. This did not happen. It was then decided that the bill be placed for discussion during the current winter session of the legislature in Nagpur.
While the state government and university officials have approved of the new act, there is hope that it will smoothen the working of the university. “The university cannot blame its shortcomings on the lack of a proper act, so it’s time for it to get its act together. The last year and a half has been one of turmoil for students, teachers and affiliated colleges as the vice chancellor was the sole decision maker in the absence of a law. A division of power is the key to improving the varsity’s functioning,” said a senior MU official.
State education minister Vinod Tawde told HT that the approval of the bill was the first big step towards improving the quality of education in universities across the state. “This bill should get approved by the governor soon and by late January or early February, we will be in a position to implement the new act,” said Tawde.
Posts vacant at the university
*Pro vice-chancellor: the former pro V-C chose to leave his post in May 2015 and the post remains vacant till date
*Permanent Controller of Examination (COE): In January 2016, four probable candidates were shortlisted by a committee but the process was scrapped midway because of a clause in the new Maharashtra Public Universities Bill, 2015, which has no post for Controller of Examination. The new post as per the new Act is ‘Director (Assessment and Evaluation)’ and the validity of COE will only last until the new act is implemented. Similarly in May, another group of shortlisted candidates were never called for interviews in the end because the selection committee found not a single candidate eligible for the post. The third attempt to find a permanent COE was made in October this year which again hit a dead end
*Elected Members on Examination Council
*Elected Members on Management Council
*Permanent members on the Grievance Cell: After being disfunctional for more than six months, the Grievance Cell is currently functioning with the help of ad-hoc members.