While the proposed Maharashtra Public Universities Act couldn’t be discussed in the state assembly, the opposition Congress and NCP have now criticised the move to reduce the representation of various stakeholders - students, teachers and college management representatives - in university governing bodies.
At a meeting with education minister Vinod Tawde and minister of state Ravindra Waikar on Wednesday, opposition leaders came out against replacing elected members with the vice-chancellor’s nominees.
Congress wants to retain the constitution and appointment procedure for varsity governing bodies prescribed in the current Maharashtra Universities Act 1994, whereas NCP is in favour of “a balance” between elected and nominated members.
“The current system is a time tested setup. We think that the government shouldn’t make any change in it,” said Congress leader and former agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who was present at the meeting.
The bill for the proposed act which will replace the 1994 act was introduced in the state legislative house on the final day of the winter session of the assembly. However, the bill couldn’t be passed as there was little time left to discuss its provisions.
The act will reduce the strength of the senate - university’s apex governing body - from 103 members to 71. Approximately 50% of the senate members will be appointed through the election route, down from around 65% of the 1994 act. The rest of the senate will consist of varsity office bearers - the ex-officio members - and people nominated by the vice-chancellor.
The elected representatives will have a negligible presence in the academic bodies such as academic council, faculties and board of studies of various departments.
While NCP is in favour of appointing some members through nomination process, the party is against doing away with elections in academic bodies. “In the current democratic setup, elections should be there. The governing bodies should be a mix of elected and nominated representatives,” said former education minister and NCP leader Rajesh Tope.
The parties are also worried that the new act will place too much power in the hands of the vice-chancellor. “If the vice chancellor is a good administrator and academicians, then it’s alright. Otherwise, it will create a havoc,” said Tope.