After 22 years, student politics returns to Maharashtra

Updated: Dec 09, 2016, 09:46 IST | Pallavi Smart

After 22 years, with the new Act, student elections in Maharashtra will be held again to involve them in curriculum and administration

Students in the MU are already politically active and participate in movements
Students in the MU are already politically active and participate in movements

After a 22-year lull, students can passionately duke it out in the student elections as campus politics are back. After years of deliberation, the New Maharashtra Public Universities Act was finally passed in both the legislative Assembly and Council on Thursday afternoon. Not only students’ elections, different aspects — presence of student members on board of studies as well as college development boards, early declaration of timetables — are also back with the new Act promising student-friendly administration of public universities.

Pros and cons
Work toward changing the Universities Act began in the academic year 2010-11 when the committee was formed under educationists Dr Arun Nigvekar to create a draft for the new act. “Finally, real student leaders will get a voice to put forth students’ issues instead of the current practice of selecting students leaders,” said Rohit Chandode, Mumbai head of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

Aditya Shirodkar, President of the Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena, however, expressed that a strict code-of-conduct is required before beginning student election to avoid repetition of history. “Student elections were stopped after nuisance element entered the student activity which resulted in violence. We strongly recommend that government ensures strict code-of-conduct in student elections,” he said. “The act is passed but it will take another year to finally reach the implementation level.”

What are the changes?
Under the new Act, students’ grievance redressal cell will be mandatory in all universities. There will also be students’ representation on committees that will decide curriculum and other academic aspects of different courses. To ensure academic development, posts of deans in going to be a full-time position, instead of the current practice of principals doubling up as deans. There will also be focus on decentralisation, considering the huge jurisdictions of the varsities. Other than these, Director of innovation, incubation and linkages will be appointed.

Other recommendations include that new colleges take permission before starting work on infrastructures, bring flexibility in courses with implementation of choice-based credit system, encouraging colleges for autonomy and rearrangements of several university bodies as well as positions.

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