Thirteen new private universities may be established in Karnataka, as the Jagadish Shettar government on Thursday got 13 relevant bills passed in both the Houses of the state legislature in just about an hour’s time.
The bills were passed in two batches without any discussion. Even copies of the bills were not made available to the members and media too could not access these bills. The entire Opposition stayed away from the legislative proceedings.
The rush on the part of the government to get these bills passed prompted the Opposition Congress and the JD(S) to issue a protest statement outside the Houses.
The two parties said they will approach Governor H R Bhardwaj to appeal to him against giving his assent to the 13 bills.
The controversial bills propose to create Manipal University, Arka University, Dayananda Sagar, Vellore Institute of Technology, M S Ramaiah University, Devaraj Urs University, Sharana Basava University, Adichunchanagiri University, Rai Technological University, PES University, Reva University, KLE Technological University and Amrutha Sinchana Spiritual University – each as a private university. Most of which offer professional courses and come under either the Visvesvaraya Technological University or Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS), and are also subject to guidelines framed by apex regulatory bodies such as All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants
Commission (UGC) and Medical Council of India (MCI) depending on the courses offered.
If and when the bills become acts on securing the governor’s assent, these institutions become private varsities and they will be governed by their own separate legislations, higher education department officials pointed out. They will be outside the control of the relevant apex bodies and the professional universities.
Higher Education Minister C T Ravi, who piloted the bills, allayed fears that the government will lose its quota of Common Entrance Test (CET) seats with the universities getting the “private university” tag. The government plans to set up a separate authority to regulate all the private universities in the State, he said.
Besides, the government quota seats would be fixed at 40 per cent, he added.
Fee fixation in these universities will be done by a government-appointed committee. The government will have powers to impose penalty up to Rs 10 lakh if there is any malpractice. Hence, fears that there will be no government control over them are misplaced, he added.
‘Only rich to benefit’
Earlier, BJP MLA B Suresh Gowda opposed the move to grant private university status to private educational institutions. There is no place for social justice in private universities as students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and OBCs will not get the benefit of seat reservation. Only the rich will benefit from private universities, he said.
He demanded that the government examine the functioning of Azim Premji University and Alliance University, the two private universities already functioning in the State before creating new private varsities.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar told the Legislative Council that not all private universities were “fraudulent”. “Karnataka is not the only state which is paving way for private universities. Rajasthan has more than 100 private universities,” he observed.
Reacting to the developments, former Bangalore University vice-chancellor M S Thimmappa wondered on what basis the private universities were being cleared by the government. He expressed displeasure that there was no independent academic body to process the applications submitted for setting up new private universities.
Manipal University is promoted and owned by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and will come up in Doddaballapur. Arka is promoted by the Jain Group of Institutions and will come up on a 50-acre campus at Jakkasandra on Kanakapura Road.
MS Ramaiah Education Trust is expected to invest Rs 100 crore towards the infrastructure of the university in Bangalore and will offer courses in technical education, medical education, management, natural sciences and life sciences. Devaraj Urs University will have its headquarters at Doddaballapur.