Higher education: TU amends rules on autonomy



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Flouting a directive of the Human Rights and International Relations Committee (HRIRC) of the Legislature-Parliament, the Tribhuvan University (TU) Assembly on Thursday amended two rules to allow its educational bodies to go for autonomy.

Despite opposition from several members, a special meeting of the assembly amended two rules— Decentralization Rule 1998 and Rules for Autonomous Institutes or Campuses 2005—paving the way for all of its bodies for their autonomy. As the earlier rules incorporated only 60 constituent colleges, the amendment was made to include TU’s five institutes as well—Institute of Medicine, Engineering, Science and Technology, Forestry, and Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary. 

Following the amendment, any constituent college and technical institute under TU can go for autonomy fulfilling certain criteria. The autonomous institutes can appoint teaching and non-teaching staff, allocate budget, seek income-generating sources and fix fees on their own, while the technical institutes can also formulate their syllabi. The TU central office provides a block grant up to Rs 180 million to such colleges and bears no financial obligation after the autonomy.

To date the Illam-based Mahendra Ratna Campus has been granted autonomy but it has not fared well due to protests from several quarters on various pretexts including graft.

Although HRIRC on Sunday had directed the education ministry to scrap the process, the university amended the rules challenging the committee decision. “As we are heading towards federalism there is no need to go for autonomy as such issues will be sorted out by the respective federal states,” Padam Lal Biswakarma, chairman of the committee told the Post. However, TU Vice-chancellor Madhav Prasad Sharma said the HRIRC decision came without adequate study. 

Himal Sharma, the president of the Maoist-affiliated All Nepal National Independent Student Union-Revolutionary and a student union representative at the assembly, registered his disagreement on the amendment. He remarked that it was TU’s deceptive role to privatizatise the public campuses.

The World Bank (WB), a major source of grants, was building pressure on TU to abide by its agreement.  Interestingly, the amendment is made just six days before VC Sharma retires. “We had to decide for the autonomy as the WB threatened to stop grants if the university did not decide to this effect,” said a senior TU official seeking anonymity. 

Rajeev Upadhyay, the media coordinator at the WB, informed that the university had agreed to grant autonomy to educational bodies while signing the grant agreement.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)