At least three major policy decisions, which can bring big reforms in the higher education sector, are stuck with the state government due to financial reasons. This includes a long pending proposal for introducing a new act to govern all public universities, a separate technical university dedicated to engineering education and a separate university for the performing arts.
“The proposed Maharashtra Public Universities (MPU) Act 2011 has been cleared by the Law and Judiciary Department and now awaiting clearance from the finance department,” state higher and technical education minister Rajesh Tope said. He was in the city last week to attend a function.
However, in January Tope had said the same thing that the bill of the MPU had been sent to the finance department for approval. At that time the minister said, “The government has worked out a time-bound programme to ensure that the Act comes into force by June 2013.”
It has been two years since senior academician Dr Arun Nigvekar submitted the draft of MPU to the government. When contacted by MiD DAY, Nigvekar said, “In our report we have highlighted the roadmap about how to introduce the Act along with the government’s financial responsibility during implementation.”
In the pipeline
The MPU has many reforms like the appointment of governing bodies in universities by nomination rather than elections, and replacing the senate of the varsities with a better version of governance. The proposed act received strong opposition from some internal groups. This is the reason why government is going slow on introducing MPU. Nigvekar alleged that the lack of will at the top level is taking a toll on the state’s education sector. “As the elections are nearing the government would prefer to delay the introduction of the Act by another year.” Like MPU the proposal of establishing a new university of performing arts in Pune has also gone in the cold storage. “The Cabinet has given a final approval for the university in Pune. But the problem is financial provisions,” Tope said.
Another pending proposal is establishing a technical university at Lonere in Raigad district to bring uniformity in engineering education at the state level. Tope could not say by how long the project would get delayed.