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More doesn’t mean merrier

BB Bhattacharya, JNU V-C says that If you take away money for new universities, there may not be any actual increase of outlay for existing universities, reports Anuradha Mukherjee.
Hindustan Times | By Anuradha Mukherjee, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 01, 2008 03:14 AM IST

The vice-chancellors of two central universities in the capital are not very happy with the Union Budget 2008-09. While Delhi University has received Rs 100-crore grant as a centre of excellence, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) doubted if the benefits of the increase in the education outlay would reach them. “If you take away money for new universities, there may not be any actual increase of outlay for existing universities. On that aspect, we are very unhappy,” said BB Bhattacharya, JNU Vice-Chancellor.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) allocation has gone up by almost Rs 1,523 crore this year, but it has a task of creating 16 new central universities and 14 world-class universities this year. The total outlay for UGC is Rs 5,104.90 crore for 2008-09, as against last year’s Rs 3,581.94 crore. The UGC allocates funds to all central universities. “The (UGC) outlay appears to be more because the money allocated last year was not spent and they have simply shifted the budget. Also the Moily Committee funds were not disbursed,” said Bhattacharya.

UGC chairman Sukhdeo Thorat, however, did not seem to think there would be much difficulty in allocating funds to universities. “This year for the first time, the Planning Commission has earmarked funds for different universities, even the new ones. So this is not something in air. Allocations made for the new universities are only for the first year, they will get more funds in the upcoming years,” said Thorat.

Thorat also allayed fears that the new universities would get a share in the Moily Committee pie, eating into the share of existing universities. “The Rs 875 crore grant from the oversight (Moily) committee is meant only for existing central universities. This fund will also be released to universities subject to the Supreme Court’s clearance. If this is released, it would contribute substantially to infrastructure upgrade,” he added.

Bhattacharya, however, does not agree. He said the proposed allocations under the Moily Committee funds would hardly suffice. “We recently had a meeting at the UGC and the response was very disheartening. Although the matter is pending in court, we were asked what we need to upgrade when required. We said we would need Rs 265 crore but they have offered only Rs 14 crore,” he said.

Even DU Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental said the funds being allocated were not enough for the kind of infrastructure upgrade the university was expected to do. He said extra money the university was getting might be just useful for starting the three new MTech courses that require good laboratories. “We are waiting for the UGC to release some funds this year so that we can augment some ancillary facilities. The allocation of 2008-09 funds will take time,” said Pental. Pental added the government should invest more in existing universities. “These universities may give you better faculties for the universities of the future. Otherwise we will have brick and mortar structures, but not enough human resources to run them. Existing universities that have the capacity to expand should be paid attention,” he said.

“Hyderabad University for instance has a huge land. Why don’t they upgrade the facilities there? Hyderabad has already started undergraduate courses. Similarly, JNU has a capacity for 5,000 students, why not increase it to 10,000?” asked Pental.

Jamia Millia Islamia Vice-Chancellor Mushirul Hasan, however, echoed the two other V-Cs when he said the government should ensure the money that is allocated is released in time. “And we should not be rushed to spend that money,” he added.

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