The Telangana government’s decision to appoint IAS officers as vice-chancellors of eight state-run universities has drawn flak from the opposition, academicians and the student community.
Ignoring the talent pool from academic community, the TRS government has chosen IAS officers to fill the vacant posts of vice-chancellors in eight universities. The opposition Congress and the BJP have raised objections over the move, saying it would dilute the autonomy of the higher educational institutions and damage their reputation.
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“There is a dangerous pattern to this. The universities are being converted into government departments by disregarding the fact that they are centres of knowledge. This government has crossed all limits to sabotage the public sector universities in the state in order to pave way for privatisation of education,” lamented Prof Padmaja Shaw, a social activist and retired professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Hyderabad’s Osmania University.
Officials of the state education department, however, said that the appointment of bureaucrats was only a ‘stop-gap arrangement’ and full-fledged VCs would be posted after the search committees, constituted by the government, finalise their reports.
The process would take a couple months to complete. The search committees will scrutinise the applications and shortlist three names for each university which will then be sent to Governor ESL Narasimhan for final selection.
According to official sources, over 200 applications have been received from academicians for the VC posts in eight universities across the state including Osmania University in the city.
However, the opposition parties and education activists are not impressed with the government’s clarification.
“The state government should have appointed regular vice chancellors with full charge instead of appointing in-charge VCs. Instead of roping in the experienced academicians, the government has assigned the job to bureaucrats,” the treasurer of the state Congress committee Gudur Narayana Reddy said.
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The Congress leader accused Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao of treating universities as extensions of government departments. He pointed out that the posts of VCs have been lying vacant for several months.
The appointment of bureaucrats as in-charge VCs was an indication that the chief minister might further delay the appointment of new VCs. The universities were also being deprived of funds, he alleged.
The opposition parties argued that the “deliberate delay” in appointing permanent VCs amounted to diluting the interests of the public universities in the state.
State BJP spokesperson K Krishnasagar Rao said that government’s move exposed its incompetence and utter disregard for regular administration and academic activities of the universities.
Prof Padmaja Shaw contended that appointing IAS officers as VCs would not serve any purpose as they were already preoccupied with their regular work and were not well-versed with the administrative requirements of a university.
Stalin, a research scholar at Osmania University and AISF’s national universities coordinator, alleged that the decisions taken by the TRS government in the last few years have harmed the interests of the public universities.
There are also concerns over the government’s apathy towards vacancies in faculty positions in the universities. “In Osmania University alone, 60 per cent of faculty positions are lying vacant. There is a deliberate inaction on the part of the government,” the student leader said.
“Knowing that the term of the VCs ended in July, the government should have been pro-active in the appointment of regular VCs instead of appointing bureaucrats who are already preoccupied with their departmental work,” the Telangana State Federation of University Teachers Association Battu Satyanarayana said.