Varsities mock austerity drive

Varsities mock austerity drive

As Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy embarks on an austerity drive, universities are doing exactly the opposite, it emerges. In spite of a free software provided by the Department of Higher Education under the scheme ‘Gnana Sangama,’ four universities have called for tenders from private companies for the very purpose.

As per the details available on the e-procurement website, Gulbarga University, Davangere University, Bangalore North University and Bangalore Central University have invited tenders.

Of these, Bangalore North and Davangere universities have called double tenders, one for e-governance services and the other for examination process.  

The government had issued an order on July 4, 2015, directing all state universities, government colleges and polytechnic colleges to migrate to the software system provided by the department of higher education for better administrative and educational work.The order had directed all the institutions to immediately switch to Information Communication Technology (ICT), a software developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), and not to continue the MoUs and agreements with private agencies.

“All institutions shall extend full co-operation by implementing ICT initiatives in their respective institutions and shall facilitate synergy, co-operation and co-ordination for the larger benefit of students/teachers/faculty. Non co-operation would be viewed seriously and stern action would be taken for non-compliance,’’ the order said.

Nine universities and several colleges under the department of collegiate education have spent more than
Rs 100 crore in the name of examination software and printing of names of students on marks cards, much after the 2015 government order.

The money spent has been calculated based on the number of students in these universities and colleges. A majority of these tenders, called during 2016 and 2017, have gone in favour of just two companies and that too for different rates. A close look at these tender documents, copies of which are available with DH, shows that the scope of work assigned to the private companies is identical.

It is not that all universities have shown non-compliance in customising to ICT. Tumkur University, one of the youngest universities in the state, has claimed to have successfully implemented the ICT initiative.

Rajkumar Khatri, principal secretary, Higher Education department, told DH that he would raise the issue in a meeting with the minister.

“This has not come to my notice. I will bring this issue before the minister in the review meeting,” the officer said.