‘End political interference in VCs appointment’

New Delhi, March 25 (Agencies): Calling for a need to end political interference in the appointment of Vice Chancellors of universities, Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal on Friday said the education system in the country would evolve only if such practices were stopped. Inaugurating a meeting of the Vice Chancellors of the Central and State universities here, Mr. Sibal also said the university system must allow mobility to students. The university system needs to rise up from the current approach of limiting itself to teaching in specific streams as also limiting students to availing courses that are available only in their institutions, he said.
 “Vice Chancellors are appointed at the instance of the political establishment. This must end. If we really want our system to thrive, then the academic world should be left free to its own devices in the hope that you create a future for the country,’’ Mr. Sibal told Vice Chancellors of universities from across the country. Stressing on transparency and accountability in the system where students should also be allowed to assess teachers, the Minister said universities need to be more effervescent, energetic and creative to contribute to the future. “Germination of ideas takes place through the university system. If the university system is not effervescent, energetic, creative, then you would be relegated to the knowledge of the past,” he said.
Advocating for a fundamental shift in the higher education set up, Mr. Sibal envisioned an atmosphere that allows greater student mobility and an academic world that has the freedom to chart its own future. Underlining the need for uniformity in access to education, he said that universities must create a financial, social, economic structure which facilitates access to students. Pointing out that enormous interest was being expressed by foreign universities in collaborating with the Indian universities or setting up their institutions here, the Minister said that the general message he got was that the large student strength in India attracted them, particularly for undertaking research.
Sam Pitroda, advisor to Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovation, stressed that the Government must “act now” in carrying forward the reforms process in the higher education sector “as there has been no progress in this regard since the last five years”. Mr. Pitroda raised doubts over the efficacy of conducting the proposed higher education survey, apparently indicating that such a move would further delay reforms in higher education. The survey proposes creating a database to suitably plan for the growth and development of the sector. Suggesting radical changes in the sphere of higher education, he favoured creation of a ‘board of undergraduate education at the State level’, credit transfer for enhanced student mobility and removal of restrictions which impede students from pursuing their dreams. The vice chancellors conference would seek to identify development issues, challenges and reform agenda in higher education for the 12th Five Year Plan Period.