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Academia Air Concern Over Kerala Private Universities

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The New Indian Express | Sovi Vidyadharan | ENS | 15th August 2015 |

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  With an expert committee tasked by the Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) favouring the setting up of private universities in the state, concerns are being raised by a section of the academia on whether adequate checks and balances would be in place to regulate such institutions. The committee, which was slated to submit its report about the feasibility of setting up of private universities before August 15, is currently engaged in the final round of consultations with top academics. Along with the report, the committee will also come up with a ‘model legislation’, as the establishment of each private university would require enactment of separate legislation by the Assembly. “Even though there are 207 private universities in the country, Kerala is the only state that does not have a single such institution. We are hopeful of submitting our report by the end of this month after final round of discussions,” committee chairman Cyriac Thomas told ‘Express’.

“At a time when the government is not in a position to make huge investments in the state’s higher education sector, the entry of private players is inevitable,” said Thomas, former Vice-Chancellor of MG University. However, senior academicians are not convinced. Former Kerala University Vice-Chancellor Dr B Ekbal  wondered why the government was showing such “urgency” in inviting private players to set up   universities. “Already, there are dozens of universities in the state adequate to cater to the needs of the students,” he said. “Everyone is aware of what had happened after the state’s engineering and medical education sector was thrown open to the private sector. The self-financing sector is now riddled with problems, including poor quality of education and abysmally low success rates. The government should learn lessons from the failure of the self-financing sector before exploring such proposals,” Ekbal added. Senior academic A Jayakrishnan is equally sceptical about the proposal.According to him, profiteering should not be the main agenda of private players who set up universities in the state. Also, there is a likelihood that such universities will tie up with sub-standard foreign universities to woo unsuspecting students,” he said. Sources in the Higher Education Council, which has come up with the proposal have dubbed such concerns as ‘unfounded’. They maintain that adequate checks and balances would be put in place to prevent profiteering and ensure quality of education and teaching. “All guidelines issued by the UGC, AICTE and MCI will be applicable to such universities. Also, only corporates with exemplary track record would be preferred to set up universities. Rules will be framed to ensure that the profit generated from such universities will be pumped back into the institution itself for its development,” said a top official of the Council. – Courtesy


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