Vice Chancellors (VCs) of all nine universities have unanimously rejected the new higher education bill, commonly referred to as umbrella act for all universities.
A recent meeting of the University Coordination Committee (UCC), which has all nine VCs as members apart from the University Grant Commission (UGC) chairman, dubbed the bill as ´irrelevant and unsuitable for regulating the country´s higher education´. The bill is currently in parliament for final approval.
According to Bhola Nath Pokharel, member secretary of the UGC, the bill empowers the education secretary to even dissolve a university“ "The bill gives bureaucracy an upper han”," Pokharel said“ "We, therefore, are against the bill. We will not accept thi”."
Prof Khagendra Prasad Bhattarai, vice-chancellor of Pokhara University (PU), says“ "We are not against the idea of a single act for governing all universities. But, existing independent university acts should not be scrapped unless a better option is in plac”."
According to Prof Bhattarai, the government has acted in haste in bringing the bill to parliament“ "First, all stakeholders were not consulted before tabling the bill in parliamen”," he says“ "Second, when the country is poised to go into a federal set up, the bill in question can not serve the purpose. So we are against i”."
Prof Dr Suresh Raj Sharma, vice-chancellor of Kathmandu University, a vocal opponent of the bill, says“ "We have long been criticizing the government for giving too little autonomy to universities. But it seems the bill aims to restrict even that little autonom”."
However, Dr Roj Nath Pandey, assistant spokesperson at the Ministry of Education, says“ "The VCs may have reacted sharply against the bill presuming that the bill will be passed without incorporating their suggestions. But, the bill is not final and we are open to including their input”."
On the UGC allegation that the bill gives upper hand to bureaucracy, Dr Pandey says that the bill certainly gives some space to government officials but that is meant only for reducing possible politicization in universities.
(Source: Republica National Daily)