Even as a high level meeting is underway in Mumbai today (March 3) where vice-chancellors across the state and top officials of the higher education department will deliberate with Vinod Tawde, Minister for Higher and Technical education, on how The Maharashtra Public Universities’ Act, 2016, which came into force on March 1, will be implemented. It has become a subject of debate among academicians in the city.
Amended after two decades, the new Act has already set into motion, many changes at the university level. The first and immediate change was that the post of director of Board of College and University Development (BCUD) became redundant from Wednesday. The director of BCUD was responsible for academic planning and development and research in colleges as well as collaborations between colleges and universities at national and international level.
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The abandonment of the post could lead to few initial hiccups, said Sanjay Malpani, chairman of Sangamner College. “It was a very important post and co-ordination with colleges as well as academic planning was dealt with it. If this post goes, then the additional burden could come on the vice-chancellor. Though four new deans under the new Act and a pro vice-chancellor could ease that burden, hence, it would be a matter of time before this becomes clear,” he said.
However, other top positions like registrar, examination controller can continue till the end of their term though the nomenclature of the latter has changed to Director of Examinations. What has generated the maximum debate is the formation of the statutes that will lay down the rules and regulations for the implementation of the act and is expected to be released in phases by March 31. The statutes will specify the rules for the appointment of governing and administrative bodies as well as representatives.
“In the earlier Act, many of the statutes were designed by individual university. That is because each university has their own need, the situation of say Nagpur University will not be the same as Pune University. It is being said that in the new Act, the state has formed a committee and will prescribe standard statutes. However in the new Act, the powers of the Senate mention the power to make, repeal and amend statutes. So it is wait and watch to see if universities will be able to amend statutes according to local needs,” said Professor Nandkumar Nikam, president, Maharashtra State Principals Forum.
Narendra Kadu, registrar, Savitribai Phule Pune University also said that there is no clarity yet on the statutes and if varsities will be able to make amendments in some statutes. However, what is good news is that since the new Act is already in place, varsities can now resume their statutory bodies such as the senate, management council whose elections had halted for over a year.
SPPU Vice Chancellor Wasudeo Gade confirmed that forming the statutory bodies would be on top agenda now. “At the meeting on Friday, we are expected to get more clarity on how things will proceed as right now there is some confusion. However holding elections and starting nomination process for the statutory bodies is now top priority and we will begin with the Senate election followed by Academic Council, Board of Studies and so on,” he said.