Now, bloc of private universities opposes the very idea of regulatory body in Punjab

The private universities challenged the regulatory body as “unconstitutional”, citing an order of the Himachal Pradesh high court on a similar body there.

education Updated: Sep 07, 2017 10:25 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
private universities,regulatory body,Congress government
Charanjit Singh Channi and Satnam Sandhu(HT Photo)

The proposal of Punjab’s Congress government to constitute a regulatory body to monitor functioning of private institutes faced fresh resistance from the universities that opposed the very idea, at a meeting with ministers here on Wednesday. Earlier, the private universities were opposed only to the plan to cap the fee and number of seats.

3 reasons why govt wants regulator
  • No cap on seats at present; pvt varsities can admit as many as students they want
  • No check on fee; pvt varsities are charging hefty fee and, in many courses, it’s as high as foreign varsities
  • Quality of education under question; because of no entrance test, private varsities are admitting students without considering if they are eligible

In the meeting of the cabinet sub-committee about the plan, all private universities unanimously said any regulator would have the “worst impact”.The meeting was chaired by the sub-committee head, health minister Brahm Mohindra, at Punjab Bhawan where chancellors of all private universities operating in Punjab and representatives of government universities too participated. Technical education minister Charanjit Channi and education minister Aruna Chaudhary also attended as members of the sub-committee.

The private universities challenged the regulatory body as “unconstitutional”, citing an order of the Himachal Pradesh high court on a similar body there. It must, however, be noted that the HC order quashing the regulatory body has since been stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal by the state government. “We are not against making a pro-student environment in the institutes of Punjab,” stressed Satnam Sandhu, chancellor of Chandigarh University, while speaking with HT after the meeting.“But, before making any such regulatory authority, the government must keep in mind that in Himachal, the only state in India to have a regulatory body, their high court had termed this body as unconstitutional. Moreover, the Punjab government must also study the model of the hilly state where many institutes ended their operations after the body came into existence seven years back.”

‘Already regulated’

Chancellor of another university situated in Doaba said, on the condition of anonymity, that the state’s move would affect private universities “the way industrial packages given to Himachal have led to shifting of industry from Punjab”.

3 reasons why pvt varsities don’t want it
  • Capping of seats and fee will hit their business prospects
  • At present, varsities don’t have to file any report to state government; that will change under planned law
  • Varsities says they already have UGC, AICTE and other councils to check functioning

“If seats are capped through the regulatory body, private universities working in Punjab would not get a level-playing fields. How will we compete with states where there is no capping?” he asked. “Moreover, before becoming private universities, we were running as private colleges; and the only reason we chose to become universities was to get autonomy. Any regulator at the state level is an attack on our autonomy.”

The universities have contended that their functioning is already being monitored by “so many regulatory bodies” of the Union government, such as the University Grants Commission. “We have regulations of the UGC that does inspections time to time. For every course we run, we have councils formed by the Union government that supervise. When everything is already under supervision, how does this regulatory body make a difference?” the chancellor from Doaba further said.

Some actually want it, to fight monopoly

Sources said there were some chancellors who refrained from speaking against the proposed law to have a regulatory body for private universities. And, thus, there’s a counter-view.“Some private universities even want capping of the seats to end the monopoly of two or three big players who are calling the shots at present in the education business. They are of the opinion that a regulatory body may provide all universities a level-playing field,” a minister who was part of the meeting told HT.

Sources in the government have told HT that some private universities exerted pressure to defer the proposal, and the formation of the cabinet sub-committee was a result of that.

All government-run universities representatives have hailed the proposal.“The regulatory body is the need of the hour as our private as well as government institutes of higher education must live up to the changing demands in the field of education as per needs of the industry,” said Channi.

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 09:59 IST