Symbiosis and MIT are set to establish private universities in Madhya Pradesh, after the Maharashtra government has been going slow on reforms in higher education and failing to introduce a separate Act -- Maharashtra Self Financed Universities Bill, 2011-- for establishment and regulation of private universities even after two years.
Fed up with the state government’s red tapism in sanctioning the proposal, Symbiosis has shifted the location of its first ‘Skill Development University’ from the home state to MP. The group received the go-ahead from Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s government with the allotment of 25 acres of land near Indore at 50 per cent concession, to set up the university near Pithampur industrial zone.
“In his special visit to Pune in October 2012, MP CM Chauhan appealed to industrialist and education groups to invest in MP. So, we submitted the proposal for the skill development university, which is set to get formal approval in a few months. Symbiosis has received the Letter of Intent (LoI),” said Dr Swati Mujumdar, Principal Director, Symbiosis Open Education Society.
Ironically, Mujumdar actively participated in drafting Maharashtra’s Self Finance University Bill and also framed recently issued guidelines by the state government to set up private universities in the state.
“Basically, our plan was to set up a university dedicated to skill development in Maharashtra. But, despite various rounds of talks with the government for over two years, we didn’t succeed in it. I have even given a detailed presentation to CM Prithviraj Chavan. On the contrary, the MP government approved our proposal within months,” she said.
Meanwhile, the MIT group has also received the green signal from MP to set up a traditional university on 50 acres of land at Indore by investing Rs 100 crore in the next five years. “With this new project MIT is going out of Maharashtra for the first time. The approvals from MP are faster because of the single party government,” said Mangesh Karad, Executive Director of the MIT Group of Institutes. He said, “As a progressive state it is expected that Maharashtra should take the lead in the education sector. But, the problem is lack of political will.”
When contacted by MiD DAY, Higher and Technical Education Minister of Maharashtra Rajesh Tope, said, “These are nothing but misunderstandings. We have tried our best to introduce the Self Finance University Act. We have already issued guidelines and so far received five proposals to set up private universities in the state.”
He added, “Setting up private universities outside Maharashtra must be an expansion plan for both these educational groups. In that case the world is open to them. Both MIT and Symbiosis had submitted their proposals to my department.” Tope said, “There is a set procedure and according to norms each proposal will be converted into a separate bill and has to get approval from both houses of the assembly. Maharashtra is ahead of other states in issuing guidelines for private universities.”
Why the bill wasn’t passed in the state
Introducing a special act for self financed universities to attract corporate players and education groups to come forward to set up private universities in the state was the brainchild of higher education minister Rajesh Tope. The state government tabled the ‘Self Financed Universities (Establishment and Regulation) Bill’ in July 2011 and subsequently passed it in both houses of the state legislature in August 2011. However, it got stuck as Governor K Shankarnarayan did not approve it as it had no mention of the state’s reservation policy. Receiving criticism from all political parties and after a deadlock of around one-and-a-half years, the governor sent back the bill to include reservation and asked for it to be tabled again. To avoid repeating the whole procedure again, the state government on April 11, 2013 withdrew the bill. In the meantime, the higher technical education department framed new guidelines on the basis of which the state cabinet has taken up proposals for private universities.