Will Tamil Nadu govt take over the power of appointing university VCs from the governor? 

Association of University Teachers, Tamil Nadu, President P Thirunavukkarasu believes the vice-chancellors will be appointed without any delay if the power rests with the state government
Will this happen? | (Pic: Edexlive)
Will this happen? | (Pic: Edexlive)

On January 6, the Government of Tamil Nadu made its intent clear to take over from the governor the power to appoint university vice-chancellors. 

Chief Minister MK Stalin informed the Assembly that a resolution in this regard will be tabled in the Budget Session of the House in March. Stalin gave his reply soon after Higher Education Minister K Ponmudy elaborated on how the power to appoint vice-chancellors rests with the governments in a few states. Currently, the governor, who is also the Chancellor of all universities, is the authority to appoint vice-chancellors.

"In Gujarat, where our Prime Minister Narendra Modi served as the Chief Minister, the Chief Minister has had the right to appoint Vice-Chancellors since 1949. The Prime Minister is well aware of it," Ponmudy said when responding to a query from PMK member GK Mani. He said CM Stalin has been consulting legal experts on the issue.

The higher education minister said the state governments should have a role in the appointment of the vice-chancellors and he recalled the recent law amendment by Maharastra and also the controversies in the appointment of vice-chancellors in West Bengal and Kerala. "To put an end to such issues, ideally, the state governments should be able to appoint the vice-chancellors. Chief Minister is also consulting legal experts. A decision on this will be taken soon, before the next assembly session," he shared.

The Chief Minister intervened and said, "In the coming budget session, surely we are going to unanimously adopt a resolution in the assembly (on this issue)." This is in line with DMK's poll promise of ascertaining the autonomy of the state government. The development comes a day after DMK MP TR Baalu demanded the resignation of the governor for the delay in forwarding the NEET exemption bill passed by the Assembly to the union government. 

Among educationalists, the idea has evoked mixed responses. While some feel the move will tarnish the sanctity to the highest post in the higher education institutions, there are few others who feel if it is the state government that funds the universities, then it should also have the right to appoint the vice-chancellors. Former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, E Balagurusamy, strongly believes that the move is completely "wrong" and it will only encourage corruption in the appointment of vice-chancellors. "Governor is a non-political person and he was given the powers of Chancellor to ensure transparency in the system. Any political interference or involvement in the process will just destroy the quality of higher education institutes in the state," said Balagurusamy.

Another retired vice-chancellor of a noted university in Chennai said, "Through this initiative, the ruling political parties will push their agenda in the higher education institutes openly." Vice-chancellor of a university, on condition of anonymity, said, "The state government provides funds to the universities, resolves their infrastructure and other problems then why can't they select the right candidate for the vice-chancellor post?" He referred to the recent such moves by the West Bengal government. 

Association of University Teachers, Tamil Nadu, President P Thirunavukkarasu believes the vice-chancellors will be appointed without any delay if the power rests with the state government.

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