Clean up Syndicate appointments

Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara’s suggestion that an expert committee be constituted to evaluate and select Syndicate members of universities merits serious consideration as the highest decision-making body in state universities is often packed with political nominees with questionable credentials. In his letter to higher education minister GT Deve Gowda, Parameshwara, himself an educationist, has said, “As a former education minister and a person who is managing a number of educational institutes, I feel there must be some radical changes in the higher education sector. One of the measures, which is also the need of the hour, is the appointment of academicians through an expert committee to the university Syndicate.”

The Karnataka State Universities Act mandates that the Syndicate, headed by the vice-chancellor, should comprise, in addition to various university and education department officers, eight nominated members, six of them named by the government and two by the governor, from among eminent educationists or accomplished persons from other fields. However, in reality, the education minister appoints members based purely on his whims and fancies, without consideration of any academic distinction. Not much can be said about the quality of the governor’s nominees, either. The fact that the Kumaraswamy government scrapped all nominations to universities across the state made by the previous regime on grounds that they did not meet the stipulations of the Act is only a case in point.

A Syndicate membership is much in demand because it is not only a stepping stone to politics but is also considered a cash-cow, given its vast powers, especially in granting affiliation to private colleges. While Parameshwara has rightly raised the red-flag over the declining quality of education and the increase in corruption and politics on campuses, adequate caution should be exercised in identifying the members of the expert panel suggested by him, lest it goes the way of the selection committee of vice-chancellors, which is often accused of choosing unworthy candidates. A committee crammed with government acolytes will only defeat the purpose. The higher education minister should immediately stem the rot and restore universities to their original glory before it is too late. Unless the Syndicate, which steers the university, is filled with men and women of merit, of which there is no dearth in Karnataka, varsities in the state will never be able to emerge as institutions of excellence and eminence.

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Clean up Syndicate appointments

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