Single law may govern varsities

Up to 80 amendments to the Karnataka State Universities Act are being debated

It will now discuss the contents of the report submitted by a committee to amend the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000.

Following a decision taken at the last meeting of the Karnataka State Higher Education Council, the state Government has asked the Council to consider responses from teachers, students, Vice-Chancellors, across the State to the proposed changes.

The Committee, chaired by former Bangalore University Vice-Chancellor N R Shetty, submitted a detailed report last year with suggestions of upto 16 new insertions and 80 amendments to the Karnataka State Universities Act.

One of the major recommendation is bringing all universities in the State under a single Act. Currently, only general universities fall under the purview of the Karnataka State Universities Act.

Specialised varsities

The Act does not include specialised universities such as the Visvesvaraya Technological University, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, or the Karnataka State Law University.

With this, differences in statutes for different varsities governing salaries, terms of Vice-Chancellors, or other issues will come to an end. For instance, currently the Vice-Chancellor of VTU enjoys a term of only three years, while V-Cs at other Universities enjoy a term of four years. Moreover, VTU V-C is eligible for a second term, while other universities do not allow a V-C to continue for a second term.

The other major change that would come into play is the revival of University elections. University elections across the State, which have been barred for more than a decade, will make a comeback if the recommendations of the panel are accepted.

The N R Shetty committee has recommended the resurrection of the Senate, a body that consists of elected representatives from both faculty members and students.

Before 2000, every university had a Senate that was an elected body consisting of representatives of faculty members, students, and principals that was entrusted with the administrative affairs of the university.

However, after the Karnataka State Universities Act, 2000 was passed, the Senate was abolished and the Academic Council and the Syndicate, consisting mostly of nominated members, reigned supreme.|

Participation

It is yet unclear if student wings of political parties will be allowed to participate. However, even if they are not allowed, many accept that it would be difficult to curb political parties from indirectly supporting candidates.

The other major changes recommended by the committee include setting up of grievance redress mechanism, and a state universities tribunal.

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