Andhra Pradesh passes Private Universities Bill
The Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed the Private Universities Bill on Monday, seeking the establishment and regulation of private educational institutions in the state. Minister for Human Resource Development Ganta Srinivasa Rao said that an expert committee has been proposed to look into regulation of the private varsities. The state government will now approach Indian and foreign private universities, to set-up campuses and research facilities.
Under the UGC Rules 2010, each state must have a defined mechanism for the evolution of private university proposals, and finally pass an Act for each university. AP attempted to pass a similar bill before the 2014 bifurcation, however despite several proposals, no progress was made. The bill was finally tabled in the state assembly in August 2014 for discussion.
Over 124 private universities have been set up in various states in India in accordance with UGC regulations. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Jharkhand have not allowed private universities yet.
Opposition party members alleged that the bill would pave way for the commercialization of education. Many legislators vowed to block the bill, stating that privatization would put education beyond the reach of poorer students and reduce enrolment in higher education. Experts argue that the government is shirking its responsibilities by privatizing education and that resources must be utilized to strengthen the existing educational framework.
Ruling party legislators, including Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu have supported the implementation of the bill. They stated that private educational institutes would improve the overall quality of education in the state and would be free of the bureaucratic hassles of state run institutes. They added that the fees of meritorious poor students seeking admission in these institutes, would be borne by the state.
The Andhra Pradesh state Cabinet approved the draft bill for Private Universities Act, despite severe opposition from students and opposition party members. Finance Minister Yanamala Ramkrishnudu said that 20 institutions from India and at least 15 international universities would be asked to set up campuses and research facilities in AP. Besides improving education, the institutes will also generate significant revenues for the state.
Members of the NSUI and the Left backed SFI, AISF and PDSU staged a protest at the AP Assembly premises, against the state government's move to introduce the Private Universities Bill. The students raised slogans against the state government and burnt copies of G.O. 30, which facilitates to introduce the Private Universities Bill. Police were able to disperse the protesting students and restore order.