House okays bill aimed at bringing all varsities under one umbrella

House okays bill aimed at bringing all varsities under one umbrella

Govt's hidden agenda to take control of universities: BJP

House okays bill aimed at bringing all varsities under one umbrella

A bill that proposes to bring all state universities under one umbrella was passed in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday amid accusations by the BJP members that the state government was trying to take control of varsities on the pretext of ushering in reforms in higher education.

Piloting the Karnataka State Universities Bill, 2017, Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy said provisions of the bill will usher in transparency in the governance and financial management of universities besides putting in place common rules for administration and functioning.

However, BJP members argued charged that the government had an “hidden agenda” to take control of universities. The provisions of the bill infringed on the autonomy of universities. They demanded that the bill be referred to a joint select committee for comprehensive discussion.

Former Higher Education Minister Aravind Limbavali (BJP) said the bill states that the state government can nominate two members on search-cum-selection committee for the selection of vice-chancellors. “This is nothing but a ploy by the government to appoint candidates of its choice as vice-chancellors at the cost of merit,” he said.

The members pointed out that the bill provides that registrars should either be from the All India Service or Karnataka Administrative Service (senior scale and above), which again is a move by the government to run universities from the backseat.

However, Rayareddy said the bill will ensure uniformity in functioning of universities, academic calendar of events, conduct of examinations, appointment of staff, admission process among others.

At present, there were complaints of lack of transparency in the functioning of universities, appointment of faculty, irregularities while taking up civil works and purchases.

The minister said appointment of teachers and other employees of  universities will be done by Common Board of Selection through a centralised process. All infrastructure and construction work costing above Rs 1 crore will have to be cleared by the Higher Education Infrastructure Development Board, an independent body, he said.

Not satisfied with the reply, the BJP members staged a walkout. The bill was passed by a voice vote.