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Wanted: A clean varsity in Karnataka, please

For the first time in recent years, all state universities are facing one or the other charge, either related to corruption or students’ problems.

Vice chancellors and registrars of most universities are having to fend off a number of accusations too.

There are complaints that universities are making false claims on academic achievements, and research and development , that they are indulging in financial misappropriation, exam malpractice and and sanctioning affiliation to colleges on false grounds.

But except for ordering the ever convenient inquiry, the state government seems to be doing little to make the universities corruption- free. The rot has gone so deep that experts are now clamouring for major changes in the state university act to ensure more transparency in their administration.

Says an officer of the higher education department, “Almost all universities are facing one or the other allegation, but after the enactment of the Karnataka State Universities Act (KSUA) 2000 no action has been taken against any of them though there are tens of inquiry reports.

"The charges against them range from misuse of university grant in aid, to sale of seats to the highest bidder, corruption in granting affiliation to colleges and in the exam section and sale of degrees. But the government is silent, saying the universities are autonomous.”

Prof. K.V.Acharya, syndicate member of Bangalore University, blames the law governing the universities for the present malaise.

“While forming the law, all power was given to the VCs under pressure from academicians and student organisations. The state government can only send reports against the VCs to the governor and he is sitting on all the files forwarded by it. This is the problem,” he says.

Universities and controversies

Bangalore University

* University affairs are hampered by tussle between Vice Chancellor, Dr.N. Prabhudev and registrar, Prof. B.C.Mylarappa. The Governor has ordered a judicial inquiry following students’ protests.

* A committee is looking into allegations of rampant corruption in the construction of the Kolar Post Graduate center.

* The appointment of retired officials sparked off protests, but the V-C did not backtrack. The government has remained a silent onlooker.

Mysore University

* Professor Shivabasavaiah of the department of zoology has been charged with sexual harassment by his PhD

* A former Vice Chancellor, prof. J.Shashidhara Prasad, has been accused of massive corruption in making appointments to the university but has faced no action

Women's University, Bijapur

* Former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Saida Akhtar, is facing several charges ,including corruption in recruitment and misuse of the development fund. But has escaped action as she has left the country
Mangalore University

* The suicide of a PhD student Sujatha, who was allegedly sexually harassed, has led to the arrests of a few faculty by the Mangalore city police , but no disciplinary action has been taken against them by the university.

Davangere University

* The higher education department has sought a report on alleged recruitment of retired officials by Davangere University Vice Chancellor S.Indumathi.

* Registrar P.K Gowda was shunted out as the tussle between him and Vice-Chancellor Prof. Indumathi over various decisions she took, worsened

They speak

* There is no meaning in saying that universities are autonomous in all respects. Actually they only enjoy academic autonomy which includes conducting examinations and drawing up the syllabus. The government and other stakeholders have financial control over them – B.R Ananthan, V-C, Kittur Rani Chennamma University, Belgaum

* Although the Governor and the government are empowered to act against universities, no one is unfortunately, punished for their misdeeds. But give us one week and we will hold state- wide agitations against the corruption in higher educational institutions – Ravi Kumar, South West Organising Secretary, ABVP

* Tens of inquiry reports are pending against various officials, faculty and stakeholders in Bangalore University alone . No one wants a clean administration. But the universities must be made accountable to the state government – An officer of higher education department

We need to strengthen the V-C selection procedure

Dr. A.M. Narahari, member, KSUA 2000 review committee

Under the Karnataka State Universities Act the vice chancellor is the highest authority of a university and only the Governor can take action against him either suo motu or based on the recommendation of the state government. But generally the vice chancellors are left alone as their tenure is only for four years.

It is when their behaviour becomes intolerable that the government decides to act against them. When it comes to corruption or irregularities within a university, the vice chancellor is empowered to take action and he can request the other stakeholders to suggest what it should be. If universities have internal problems, the VCs must act immediately to solve them.

But the need of the hour is strengthening the whole VC selection procedure. If a selection panel suggests suitable names for the VC's post, the problems can be done away with. Also the syndicates and academic councils of the universities must be strengthened.

But this can't be done at present as they are full of nominated members, who are drawn from the ruling party, organisations or close associates of the vice chancellors. You can't expect much from them.

The government should instead make them elected bodies so that independent members can make the affairs of the universities more transparent.

Although a review committee did make this suggestion, the government has not acted on it till date.


 

Courtesy:

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