'Tainted' varsities keen to begin on a new slate

'Tainted' varsities keen to begin on a new slate

Two major universities, out of the many based in Bangalore, would like to erase from their records the unpleasant and unsavoury incidents that occurred in 2011.

It was a  action-packed year for Bangalore University (BU) as well as Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS). The former got a new registrar (Administration) and the latter a new vice-chancellor. Yet, 2011 would go down in history as a year mired in incidents that tarnished both the varsities’ already fragile reputation.

The year was particularly distasteful for BU which witnessed an unending series of nasty incidents. And in the process, the many novel and student-friendly initiatives adopted by the varsity did not get the admiration they deserved.

For BU, the most unsavoury incident was the wrangling between the Vice-Chancellor, N Prabhu Dev, and six members of the varsity’s highest decision-making body, the Syndicate, in July. The members accused the V-C and the former registrar (Administration), R M Ranganath, of ‘wide-scale’ irregularities in the construction of the Postgraduate Centre at Kolar.

Work order

Ranganath, on the instructions of the V-C, gave work order to the same ‘tainted’ contractor at a higher rate without getting the Syndicate’s approval, they alleged.

Minister for Higher Education, V S Acharya, acted tough and directed his principal secretary to suspend Ranganath as well as the finance officer. Things improved when the work order was revoked and construction resumed. But the damage had been done.

Differences between Dev and Ranganath came out in the open and ultimately led to the latter being replaced by B C Mylarappa, the first Dalit registrar, on November 2. But that was only the beginning of more nasty incidents. Dev was not at all happy with the appointment of Mylarappa, his bête noire. He saw the latter’s hand in the many protests targeted at him.

December was particularly distasteful as Dev and the director of Correspondence Courses and Distance Education were attacked.

The protesters were unhappy with Dev’s continuous absence from the main campus at Jnanabharathi. The situation was so bad that the Governor had to intervene and appoint a one-man commission of inquiry to investigate the incidents.

Above and beyond, several other questions about BU remain unanswered. There is no final word on its much-awaited bifurcation, given the V-C’s staunch opposition to the idea. The results of PG courses are still declared after several months. Further, allegations surfaced that a failed student can easily succeed in examination if he/she spent money.

RGUHS got a new V-C — Dr KS Sriprakash on July 14 — and a new Registrar (Evaluation), N S Ashok Kumar, on November 3. But months earlier, in March, a huge scam surfaced when eight candidates from the same centre — VIMS, Bellary — were found to have bagged the top ranks in the Postgraduate Entrance Test (PGCET).  Other students cried foul and demanded a probe. An investigation by the Lokayukta too buttressed the claims. 

Then in April, students protested against the counselling demanding the exclusion of the eight candidates. The matter subsequently went to the High Court.

Poor implementation of RTE Act

The Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2010, the ground-breaking legislation that guarantees free and compulsory education to children aged between six and 14, was implemented in the State this year, but it did little to ameliorate the plight of thousands children out of school.

First, the notification for implementation of the legislation was issued only on November 11, more than five months after admissions to the new academic year 2011-12 got over. Second, the State Government continued to drag its feet over the effective implementation of the legislation, stressing that the Centre should provide liberal financial assistance.

Thus, a legislation hailed as a revolutionary step in providing education to every child remained mired in controversies over the financial liabilities of the Government.

The Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission to undergraduate professional courses was conducted without hassles but the run-up to it was marked by hectic lobbying by private colleges to gain the best deal over the seat matrix.

In April, the counselling for admission to PG medical and dental courses at institutes under the ambit of the Consortium of Medical, Engineering, and Dental Colleges of Karnataka (Comed-K) came under the scanner when students alleged that the managements were blocking the seats by luring meritorious candidates.

The managements would bribe the top rank-holders, who had written multiple entrance tests, to pick seats at prestigious colleges and surrender the same elsewhere, they alleged. The practice deprived other eligible students as surrendered seats would fall under the management quota. It took relentless protests and a last-minute intervention by the Department of Medical Education to make the colleges curb the practice and fall in line. 

Karnataka students who appeared for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) on May 1 faced a bout of apprehension and anxiety when news spread that the paper was leaked and being sold in the open market in Lucknow. The exam was delayed in a few centres in Bangalore.

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