Govt restrains varsity heads from talking to media

This circular has left several Vice Chancellors redfaced

The state government is now trying to curtail the rights of vice-chancellors of universities in Karnataka. In a circular, the government has directed the Vice Chancellors from making any statements before the media which might embarrass state the government.

The circular issued by the Additional Chief Secretary of state higher education department, dated June 13, 2019, copy of the same is available with DH, directs sitting vice-chancellors of all state government-run universities restricting them from going to media or giving any statement to media about any issues related to universities.

Circular reads: “vice-chancellors, registrars and other officials of the universities which come under the purview of higher education department found giving statements before print and electronic media about the issues and problems related to universities which are a kind of humiliation to the state government. Considering such instances seriously hereafter vice chancellors and other officials of the universities are directed not to give any statements.”

Along with this direction, the government advised university heads to submit representation about the issues facing at the universities and discuss the same with government, resolve issues and function as per the advice of the government.

This circular has left several Vice Chancellors redfacedThis circular has left several Vice Chancellors redfaced. Speaking to DH, a Vice-Chancellor from one of the prominent universities in the state said, “In case of finance and administration or any irregularities, then the government can interfere. Issuing this kind of circular clearly shows that the government is trying to have direct control on vice-chancellors.”

“Don’t we have the right to speech? How can the government issues such a direction?” questions another vice chancellor.

“Universities are autonomous institutions and VCs are heads of the institution and they are free to brief about the academic activities to media and public. The government must withdraw the circular,” says another Vice Chancellor.

Even the former vice-chancellors and academicians expressed their disagreement to the circular saying, it is unethical and against the Karnataka State Universities Act (2000).

Prof M S Thimmappa, former VC of Bangalore University said, “Vice Chancellors are appointed by the governor and governor can give instructions. Through this circular government is trying to interfere in university autonomy and disturb the administration unnecessarily.”

Prof M Mahadevappa, former VC of University of Agriculture Sciences, Dharwad, said, “If the government curtail VCs right to speech, how can they impart knowledge to the society. Vice Chancellors are not just administrators, they are academicians too. There should not be any restrictions on VCs and it is a wrong direction by the government.”

Dr Krishna D S, former syndicate member of Bangalore University quoting the act said, “This is the clear violation of KSU Act 2000. The government can control universities in Finance, property or audit issues, but no right to dictate VCs asking them not to go to media or give any statement.”

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