CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government on Friday decided to oppose the Central government’s proposal to abolish the University Grants Commission (UGC) and form a Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).
Official sources said Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami will be writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting how the new body would tantamount to snatching the powers of State governments on various counts. He would urge Modi to drop the move to form the new commission. A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Palaniswami at the Secretariat on Friday.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Higher Education Minister KP Anbazhagan, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan, Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and Higher Education Secretary Sunil Paliwal.Educationalists had already opposed the draft bill of the Union government. “Education was first a State subject, then a concurrent subject. Now, through this Act (if passed), it will completely be a Central subject,” said D Anandakrishnan, a former Vice-Chancellor of Anna University.
Meanwhile, AIADMK sources said party MPs would oppose the proposal in Parliament during the ensuing monsoon session which begins on July 18. A directive in this regard would be given to MPs when they meet on July 16 to chalk out the party’s strategy for the session.
On July 4, when Leader of Opposition raised this issue in the Assembly, Higher Education Minister assured that the government would not give up any rights over higher education as entitled to it now from UGC. He said the views of Vice-Chancellors of the 13 universities in Tamil Nadu on HECI would be studied and a report would be sent to the Central government soon. DMK working president MK Stalin had said the powers for granting funds for higher education would not be vested with the commission. He also alleged that the move was aimed at usurping this power and there was a possibility that States ruled by non-BJP parties could be given a partial treatment.
The draft bill, released on June 28 for public comments, makes it mandatory for a university established by the State legislature to get authorisation from HECI. The commission can also revoke authorisation if it finds that the university is not maintaining the standards prescribed by it. “This is a blatant violation of the right of the State governments and it is against the spirit of the Constitution,” said Prince Gajendrababu, general secretary of State Platform for Common School System - Tamil Nadu (SPCSS-TN).