All universities in Maharashtra should conduct academic audits of colleges affiliated to them, state education minister Vinod Tawde said on Monday.
Tawde was speaking to vice-chancellors and other senior functionaries of non-agricultural universities in the state, a day before the Joint Board of Vice-Chancellors (JBVC) meeting scheduled on Tuesday.
Academic audit involves checking on the academic progress of a college, its infrastructure, grants, years of existence, quality of faculty, student-teacher ratio, among others. Tawde said all universities must assess aided and unaided colleges affiliated to them, to ensure problems such as lack of faculty and no permanent principals can be addressed.
At a time when a section of academicians and unions believe the Governor’s recent decision to ask Mumbai university vice-chancellor Rajan Welukar to ‘abstain from duty’ was politically motivated, Tawde said universities will be kept away from political intervention and that no pressure from student unions on vice-chancellors will be allowed.
“Vice-chancellors should concentrate on academics and they will be kept away from any political or union pressures. The government will act as a catalyst for initiatives to improve academic excellence,” he said.
Tawde also asked V-Cs to not come to the Mantralaya, the state secretariat, and added nodal officers will be appointed to liaison between the universities and ministries.
“I have seen V-Cs and academicians waiting outside politicians’ officers for hours. This is shameful and I discourage it completely. We can have informal meetings outside the office or at Raj Bhavan thrice a year,” he said.
With a vision to bring state universities on par with international ones, focus on research is essential and the government will ensure time-bound planning, assessment and quarterly reviews of initiatives, he said.
Academicians, however, are sceptical about these promises. Mumbai university, in July last year, had proposed a phase-wise academic audit of 50 colleges and had appointed a committee for the same. However, the audit is yet to take off.
The principal of a college, on condition of anonymity, said the minister should first focus on reducing the red tape in the government. “Academic freedom is the need of the hour and the government should work towards that. The minister’s intentions are good but will take a lot of planning and streamlining to actually produce results,” said the principal.