The ambitious Odisha State Open University (OSOU) project of the State Government seems to have been pushed to the back burner.
Two years ago, the task force on higher education had suggested opening of such a varsity with an aim to help the State achieve the national target of 30 per cent Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) by 2020.
Even as the Department of Higher Education (DHE) went ahead with the idea by toeing the IGNOU path, there had been little headway.
Sources said the project is still awaiting clearance at the departmental level. Once established, OSOU would control all the centres of distance education and correspondence
course institutes of Odisha. It will have the authority to establish and recognise institutes, schools and regional study centres across the State. Currently, each university has its dedicated distance and continuing education directorate.
As per the draft bill of the OSOU that was to be tabled before the Assembly back in 2010, all centres of distance education and correspondence course would deem to have been passed over to the open university with a condition that the parent universities are given sufficient opportunity to disclose status of distance and correspondence education under their fold.
While IGNOU had pledged technical support, 10 acres of land was identified on the premises of the Utkal University for setting up the open university. The State Government had decided that in the first phase, distance education centres will be opened in all sub-divisional headquarters of the State. A government college in the sub-division will function as the nodal college and study centre for distance education.
However, with protests from various stakeholders, the DHE seems to have dropped the idea. Sources said the proposal was opposed as an open university would result in loss of Rs 20 crore which
State universities earn from the distance courses annually.
According to Additional Secretary, Higher Education, S K Das, the draft bill of the open university before being tabled in the Assembly was sent to the Law Department for vetting. “The department had objected to certain points in the bill and asked us to re-frame it. We are in the process of doing that. A fresh bill will be submitted to the department soon,” he said.
He added that the university would help provide higher education to a large section of the population and the disadvantaged as it would allow them to study while working and from home.
At present, there are 13 state open universities in the country besides IGNOU.