A regulation that will open doors to private universities — institutions of excellence run by private players and regulated by the state government — is soon to be a reality.
But while the quality of education and the new courses remains an attraction, the unregulated fee structure is a matter of concern.
“We will table the bill in the legislature on Monday. Hopefully it should be cleared,” said higher and technical education minister Rajesh Tope, who got an approval from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan after a meeting with him on Saturday.
The much-deliberated and pending ‘Private Universities Bill’ or the ‘Self-Financed Universities Bill’ will bring in world class universities, with colleges introducing new subjects and providing the latest facilities to students in the state.
“The idea is to bring in a huge quality enhancement in the field of higher education and at the same time have state regulation,” Tope told Hindustan Times.
Currently, the state does host some private universities – attached to the University Grants Commission (UGC) – which do not give them the required flexibility in their functioning.
The regulation puts forth several conditions for private players interested in setting up a private university ranging from a compulsory corpus fund to land they need to get for functioning depending on their location. Private promoters will need to show a corpus fund ranging from Rs five crore to Rs 10 crore, and it will be used to develop the institute.
The amount to be finalised by the state will depend on the number of programmes run by the university.
Secondly, to be set in an urban locale like Mumbai, the university will need to show an availability of a minimum 10 acres of land. This will increase to 100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in districts.
As per the bill, the state gives the university an open hand on two issues – seat reservation and deciding the fee structure. Both these have been contentious issues.
While the state maintains that every university can set up its own reservation policy, it stresses the need for ‘affirmative action’ and consider criteria of both caste and economic conditions while deciding this.
As the universities will bring in new courses like nanotechnology, biotechnology and the like, the fees are likely to be in a few lakhs, which might be unaffordable.
“As far as fees are concerned we would like to give them an open hand and allow them to be flexible. We cannot expect them to provide everything and not charge for the same,” added Tope.