Thursday, December 09, 2021

Maharashtra: Amended state universities Act comes into force

The universities can now resume their statutory bodies after a hiatus of over a year.

Written by Priyanka Sahoo | Mumbai |
March 2, 2017 5:47:09 am

THE MUCH-AWAITED Maharashtra Public Universities Act, expected to improve the functioning of universities in the state, came to force on Wednesday. Early this week, the state government issued a gazette that the Act — the bill of which was passed in the winter session of the Assembly — would be effective from March 1. The Act governs all non-agricultural universities in the state and was amended for the first time in over two decades, with the last amendment in 1994.

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“The amended Act comes to force from Wednesday and it will be implemented in a phased manner,” said Sitaram Kunte, principal secretary for higher education.

The universities can now resume their statutory bodies after a hiatus of over a year. In August 2015, the state government had directed universities to halt elections to their statutory bodies such as the senate, the grievance committee and the management council.

Some bodies were replaced by ad-hoc ones till the new Act came into force. Now that the Act has been enforced, varsities are expected to see a major overhaul in their administrative processes.

“We have received the gazette. The new Act will change things around and improve administration,” said MA Khan, registrar, Mumbai university. However, varsities may have to wait for one more week as the government hasn’t announced the statutes yet.

The statutes, which specify the rules for the appointment of governing and administrative bodies as well as representatives, will be released within a week, said Kunte.

“The statutes are in the final phase of approval,” said state education minister Vinod Tawde.

With a focus on setting the administrative processes in motion, the government will first release statutes to appoint the bodies and fill up new positions that the Act prescribes. This means that clarity on student elections will come later.

“The focus currently is on statutory bodies. Guidelines for student elections will be issued later as they are yet to be approved by the Chancellor,” said Kunte. As the Act has added new positions for better administration, guidelines on appointments to these positions are expected in a few days.

To help universities implement the Act, the government has convened a meeting of the vice-chancellors of all non-agricultural universities in the state. “We will have a meeting with all vice-chancellors on March 3 to discuss how to implement the Act properly,” said Tawde.

MU teachers complain

Teachers of the University of Mumbai have expressed concern that vice-chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh has “hurriedly changed” the syllabi of some courses before the Maharashtra Public Universities Act came into force.
In the light of a series of meetings held by Deshmukh regarding changes in syllabi by February 28, the Bombay University and College Teachers’ Union (BUCTU) has alleged that the Vice- Chancellor’s move was unconstitutional.
In the absence of a Board of Studies, the Vice-Chancellor appointed a special task force to change the syllabi and gave them a deadline of February 28.

“The VC is impinging on the powers and duties of the Board of Studies, with which lies the primary responsibility and power to formulate changes in the syllabi upon necessary deliberation,” said Madhu Paranjape, general secretary of BUCTU, in a letter to the chancellor.

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