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Gujarat assembly passes Bill to bring uniformity across state-run universities

The proposed legislation has the term of the vice-chancellor (V-C) fixed for five years. After the completion of a term, V-C can be re-appointed for five years.
Last Updated : 16 September 2023, 17:19 IST

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The Gujarat assembly on Saturday passed the contentious Gujarat Public Universities Bill-2023 which aims to bring common governing rules for all its 11 state-run universities. While Education Minister Rushikesh Patel called the Bill a "milestone" which will "lay the foundation of a solid education system for 100 years," the opposition Congress said that it will "destroy academic and financial autonomy of all universities."

One of the most contentious provisions under the Bill is doing away with senate and syndicate and introducing a board of management, which will be the supreme authority in making any decision related to varsity affairs. 

Commenting on the Bill, Congress legislature party leader Amit Chavda said, "instead of strong representatives of students, faculties, administrators, non-academic staff the varsities in the state will have members who would be yes-man to the government." He added that the bill will end "financial and academic autonomy of Gujarat's public universities."

The government said that the bill, which was passed by a voice vote on the last day of four-day monsoon sessions which ended Saturday, aimed at bringing common guidelines for uniformity in admission, study and examination across the state-run universities. 

The proposed legislation has the term of the vice-chancellor (V-C) fixed for five years. After the completion of a term, V-C can be re-appointed for five years.

According to the bill, the Gujarat governor will act as a chancellor of all universities except Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MSU) for ten years.

The bill stated that Shubhangini Raje Gaekwad, a member of the erstwhile royal family of Baroda (Vadodara), will remain chancellor of MSU.
"There is a need to remove and rectify the errors, deficiencies, obstacles, loopholes and limitations that have been identified by experience in various sections of University Acts," the Bill read.

A V-C can be removed from the office if he or she is found to be associated with a political party or organisation. It states that a V-C can be removed if he or she is found to be "a member of or is otherwise associated with any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics or is taking part in or subscribing in aid of any political movement or activity or working against the government or interest of education..."

In addition to it, the bill also prohibits universities from disqualifying a teacher or non-teaching employee on the ground of becoming a member of the legislative assembly or parliament. The period of membership of the assembly or parliament will be treated as leave without pay.

Apart from MSU, in Vadodara, the Bill will be applicable to Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, Sardar Patel University in Anand, Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in Surat, Saurashtra University in Rajkot, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University in Bhavnagar, Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University in Patan, Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar Open University, Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Varma University of Kutch in Kutch, Bhakta Kavi Narsinh Mehta University of Junagadh and Shri Govind Guru University of Godhra.

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Published 16 September 2023, 17:19 IST

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