Kerala Kaumudi Online
Friday, 03 February 2023 4.05 PM IST

Will this make university better?


Top appointments in universities are often subject to controversy no matter whichever front is in power. Controversies will gradually end as the appointment takes place. But now the university recruitment controversy in the state is new and leads to a clash between the governor and the government. The government has come forward to amend the law to reduce the powers of the governor over the universities as the chancellor. Higher Education Minister R Bindu, who introduced the Bill in this regard in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, said a lot but did not seem to succeed in convincing the intent. The government has to find a new way to persuade the obstinate governor. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has challenged that even if the assembly passes bills, they need his assent to make it a law. The indications are that the clash will continue.

It all started with a complaint that the person who was appointed as an associate professor at Kannur University was not qualified enough. The political significance of this is that the wife of the Chief Minister's private secretary was the person appointed. There is also a complaint that the vice chancellor is behind the appointment overriding the truly qualified person. There is also a controversy that Kannur University vice chancellor himself was appointed through the back door earlier. It is not surprising that the government has come forward to curtail the powers of the Governor, who is caught up in the issue, as the chancellor when the appointment of VCs to other universities in the state is about to take place. An amendment has been introduced to reduce the powers of the governor from the three-member search committee for the appointment of the VC to a five-member committee. The committee with upper hand for government nominees can appoint people at the discretion of the Government. As it gives retroactive effect, earlier appointment will also be effective. A government with a good majority in the assembly can do everything at free will.

Minister of Higher Education, Bindu, presented the bill and said that the opposition is opposing the amendment because they are angry with the government for creating an example of excellence in the field of higher education. But opposition leader VD Satheesan's response was that anyone would feel sad about the deplorable condition of the universities here, which cannot bring any kind of excellence in the field of higher education. This is a long-standing complaint by naysayers. Universities spend time and energy on non-academic pursuits. The excesses of politics are further weakening the universities. By checking how many recommendations put forward by the relevant committees to improve the higher education sector have been implemented will give an idea of ​​where each university stands.

The reason university appointments are always controversial is when incompetents are selected. Here again, political connections will be more important than merit. During the debate on the amendment bill, the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition that university appointments should be left to the PSC was highlighted. It may be argued that since universities are autonomous institutions, the power of appointment rests with the university itself. But when we see the nepotism and irregularities going on behind the university appointments, one might think that it is appropriate to make appointments through PSC, which is supposed to be impartial.

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