The much-hyped self-financed (private) universities bill, which was given the go-ahead in the legislature, is now stuck after governor K Sankaranarayanan has sent it back on the issue of caste-based reservation. The bill is likely to change to include compulsory seats reserved for certain castes.
The bill, which was cleared in the legislature, saw representation from leaders of socially backward classes opposing the bill on the contention that reservation should be mandatory if the government was recognising these universities.
Leaders like Ramdas Athavale of the Republican party of India (RPI) had argued that the bill, in its current state, was against the constitution, which calls for reservations in every education institute.
In the current form, the bill only stressed on the need for 'affirmative action' and had left it to the universities to consider criteria of both caste and economic conditions while deciding admissions. Following this, the higher and technical education department studied the status of self-financed universities across the country.
It was seen that of the 94 self-financed universities in 18 states, a majority had incorporated caste-based reservations. "In the act that was cleared in the legislature, we had left caste based reservations as a matter to be decided by the particular university. We thought we could not make it compulsory… but this will probably change now to make it mandatory," said DP Sawant, minister of state for higher education.
This bill, which will also give an impetus to foreign collaborations, will be given an open hand in deciding its courses, syllabus as well as fee structures.