June 29, 2022

Punjab

Aided Colleges Irked over Mann Govt’s Tepid Response to Issues Confronting Higher Education in Punjab and Chandigarh

Kaumimarg Bureau | June 22, 2022 06:42 PM

 

Chandigarh: The Non-Govt Aided Colleges Management Federation today called for an all out fight to protect the autonomy of the higher educational institutions in Punjab and Chandigarh. They said the tepid response of Bhagwant Singh Mann government to the issues confronting the Colleges is forcing them to adopt the path of agitations and protests as the state government is bent upon enforcing unilateral, arbitrary decisions without consulting them as stakeholders.

Addressing the media persons Federation President Rajinder Mohan Singh Chhina said the latest directives from the education department to impose centralized admission portals through a private firm is illegal, full of flaws and being enforced with `ulterior motives’. “We have shot off letters to Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, Education Minister Meet Hayer but there is no response. Our appeals for discussions and listening to our grievances have also fallen on deaf ears”, said Chhina.

Accompanied by other office-bearers including general secretary SM Sharma, Secretary Agnese Dhillon, Advisor Ravinder Joshi, Chhina said the DPI and Education Department officials do not bother even to listen to the genuine grievances. He alleged that the top officials, hands in glove with private players, have imposed the draconian order of centralized admission by a portal developed by a Mumbai based private IT company.

The move is not practicable as it will lead to the harassment of the students and their parents, seeking admissions in the current academic session 2022-2023. The Colleges already have their own online portals which cater to the needs of the admissions. The government’s decision is discriminatory as the private Universities had been kept out of the preview and they will be benefited with this scheme at the cost of the government-aided Colleges, said Chhina.

He said since there is no provision in the Grant in Aid Scheme which authorizes the taking over of the admission process of aided colleges in Punjab, rendering the decision illegal, null and void ab initio. Further,  there is a complete violation of principles of natural justice as no prior discussion regarding the Centralized Online Admission process has been held with the prime stakeholders, the aided colleges.  

The private self-financed, unaided colleges are not covered by this directive and this move is only directed against the aided colleges in Punjab. These private unaided colleges are teaching inter alia the same courses as aided colleges; however, it is only the aided colleges, affiliated to three state Universities including Punjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, which are being forced to take part in centralized online admission process.

The Federation leaders further said that such systems already announced by the government for B.Ed and Law Colleges have failed miserably. Thus the decision must be taken back and the Colleges be given more autonomy rather than imposing such arbitrary directives. Even the nitty-gritty of the administrative and financial challenges involved are not being looked into, said the Federation leaders who represent 142 Colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh.

The worst is that the fees received through this portal will be deposited in the Bank Accounts of the private firm and not in the bank accounts of the Colleges. This is highly objectionable because there is no clear cut policy how the fees would be received back and in what stipulated time. The firm is a private entity and the move might lead to a number of legal implications impacting lakhs of students and their parents, seeking admission in institutions of higher learning.

Chhina said their deputation today visited authorities of Higher Education and submitted a memorandum to them, citing their reservations and grievances. “There are no reasons forthcoming for taking over the admission process of the three state run Universities in the State of Punjab and allowing a Mumbai based firm to take control of the admission process”, he stated further adding that it is being made mandatory for the aided colleges to enter into an agreement with NSDL to collect the fees from the students in their account and after deduction of their commission fee transfer the balance fees to the colleges.

The department, he said, has failed to explain on what basis the said firm was selected, when (if any) was the tender for selecting a private firm issued, and what were the conditions of such tender. The entire action is vitiated as an attempt to enrich a private firm at the expense of students and the colleges.

The attempt of the State of Punjab to take over the admission process of these affiliating universities amounts to interfering in the autonomy of these universities who have the power to frame their own regulations regarding admissions, fee structure, examinations and awarding degree to the students of affiliated colleges.”Through the directive dated June 6, 2022, the State is seeking to interfere and to treat aided colleges as a controlled government institution which is contrary to the directions as held in TMA Pai Foundation Vs State of Kerala, 2002 (8) SCC 481.  The endeavour of the State has to be to provide easy, affordable access to education to all the sections of the society which certainly fails on account of conducting admission through online portal”, they said.

They also pointed the restoration of 95% Deficit Grant in Aid Scheme in filling teachers posts in Colleges, release of pending grants, payment of CPF as per Calendar/Ordinances of the Universities, payments of Earned Leave to covered staff, withdrawal of orders of appointing nominees to Colleges Managing Committees, annulling unreasonable restrictions on the administration of the private educational institutions were some of other concerns raised by the Federation. Others present during the press conference included Principal Khushwinder Singh, Dr. GS Samra, Dr.Mehal Singh, MP Singh, DS Rataul.

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