The demand for the ouster of the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the Anna University (AU) has gathered momentum in Tamil Nadu. A section of academicians and political parties have raised the demand following the unilateral decision of the VC in expressing consent for the Institute of Eminence (IoE) status for the university. The state government has decided to reject the proposal of the Union government after an outrage over the actions of the VC.
The letter to the VCs of all the universities from the University Grants Commission (UGC) on implementing the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) has also drawn flak. The UGC’s move of addressing the letters to the VCs even before the decision on the implementation of the NEP by certain state governments, has been termed as unconstitutional.
‘SACK VC FOR VIOLATING RULES’
The controversy broke out after the VC wrote a letter to the Union government accepting the condition to mobilise Rs 1,570 crore by itself for the next five years to be eligible to obtain the IoE status. The VC reportedly has not consulted the state government before writing to the union ministry.
The state government was insisting on the Union government to sanction the necessary funds along with an assurance on continuing with the prevalent reservation policy. The IoE status was offered to the AU in August 2019 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
The state government has sought an explanation from the VC for not consulting the concerned officials after strong criticism from the political parties and academicians. The opposition leader and president of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) M K Stalin has demanded the ouster of the VC for his actions. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] held a statewide demonstration seeking immediate action against the VC.
Leading a protest near the Raj Bhavan, politbureau member of the CPI(M), G Ramakrishnan said, “The government should sack the VC for his actions and the proposal for IoE status should be rejected considering the adverse impacts on the reservation policy followed in the state. The state government may lose control over the university if the IoE tag is accepted. With the Union government keen on implementing NEP, the rights of the state could be lost.”
Tamil Nadu follows 69% reservation for the backward, most backward, scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories, which has helped the oppressed community in getting access to higher education. The VC went on to defend his move and held a press meet which further infuriated the government.
‘EVERY STUDENT NEEDS RESEARCH FACILITY’
Meanwhile, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) led state government, after a prolonged opposition, has decided to reject the proposal of the IoE status for the AU. Many academicians, political parties and student organisations have been opposed to the idea of sanctioning IoE status for a select few institutions.
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Prince Gajendra Babu, general secretary of the State Platform for Common School System (SPCSS) told NewsClick, “Every student needs a quality research facility and confining it to a single institute is injustice. The amount prescribed now for such institutes does not seem sufficient for carrying out all the research works required. The need of the hour is to improve research facilities in all educational institutions.”
The possibilities of an increase in fee and continuing with the implementation of reservation for the socially backward students is also being raised. “Once an institute becomes an IoE, the institute has to find the funds which will result in the increase in fee, leaving the socially backward students from access to quality education,” he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has extended its support to the VC, while another ally of the AIADMK, the Pattali Makkal Katchi condemned the actions of the VC.
UGC CIRCULAR DRAWS FLAK
Besides, the Secretary of the UGC sent a letter on October 20 to the VCs of all the universities to initiate reforms in the light of NEP 2020. The letter also informed that the Ministry of Education is in the process of finalising the plan for the implementation of NEP.
In a statement released by the SPCSS, it has condemned the move and has termed the letter to be against the spirit, vision and provision of the Constitution of India.
“When the Tamil Nadu government is yet to decide on NEP, how can the UGC write directly to the VCs? The state government must take a serious note of the UGC circular and take appropriate action to protect the right of the state government and interest of the people,” the statement has demanded.
The government has set up a committee to study the NEP and advise the government. The government has rejected the three language policy prescribed in the NEP, while it has shown mixed signals over the implementation of the policy.
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