Council approves bill to revamp public universities

The Karnataka State Universities (KSU) Bill, 2017, which seeks to overhaul the functioning of public universities, was passed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

The Bill proposes reforms in the appointment of vice chancellors, financial practices of universities and recruitment of teaching staff. The Council passed the Bill along with changes suggested by a select committee to which the Bill was referred.

Appointment of vice chancellors will now happen in a time-bound manner with the government exerting more control in the process. A search committee will be set up three months before the an incumbent VC is due to retire. The search panel now has five members – it was four earlier – with the government having two nominees to have greater say in the process. The Governor, as Chancellor, retains the power to appoint the VC.

VC candidates should now have minimum 25 years of teaching experience, including 10 years as professor.

The Bill proposes an infrastructure board, whose approval will be mandatory for a university to take up any work costing over Rs one crore. Similarly, a public finance system will be put in place for all universities to record and report every transaction made. Further, a purchase committee will be set up to curb “extravagant” spending.

Piloting the Bill, Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddi said there was a need for a comprehensive legislation to “consolidate and enhance the performance of universities and bring uniformity in their administration.”

In the backdrop of alleged irregularities in the recruitment of candidates, Rayareddi said selection of teaching staff will be randomized to prevent favouritism and a written test will be compulsory.

One-third of these candidates will be selected for an interview that will be videographed, the minister explained.

The Syndicate of universities will be renamed as Executive Council, where members should possess postgraduation as prerequisite qualification. The post of Registrar (Evaluation) will be renamed as Controller of Examinations and registrars will be given training to improve administrative acumen.

The Bill will replace seven existing Acts – KSU Act, 2000; Kannada University Act, 1991; Visvesvaraya Technological University Act, 1994; Karnataka State Open University Act, 1992; Karnataka State Dr Gangubai Hangal Music and Performing Arts University, 2009; Karnataka Sanskrit University Act, 2009; Karnataka Folklore University, 2011.

The Bill will now go back to the Legislative Assembly for passage, before it is sent to the Governor for assent.

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