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Kerala govt panel suggests clipping of Governor's power as Chancellor

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Kerala govt panel suggests clipping of Governors power as Chancellor
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Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan. (PTI File Photo)

A Commission appointed by the government to suggest general reforms in the higher education sector has recommended the appointment of separate Chancellors for each university and a greater role for the chief minister as 'Visitor' of varsities.

Among the recommendations made by a Commission chaired by Shyam B Menon, former Vice-Chancellor of Dr. BR Ambedkar University, the most important one is that the Chief Minister will be the Visitor to public universities and each of them will have a Chancellor.

"The Chief Minister will be the Visitor of public universities. Each university will have a Chancellor, who must be a person of eminence who has distinguished herself/himself in public life through a lifetime of excellence and leadership. The Vice-Chancellor must be a distinguished academic, selected through public notification, and a worldwide search. A new process for selecting the Vice-Chancellors is proposed," reads the summary of the Commission report.

If approved, this will be a major deviation from the practice of the Governor being the ex-officio chancellor of the Universities.

As per reports, if the government accepts the recommendations mooted by the panel, the state will also witness drastic changes in the higher education system and as well as a total curtailment of the role of the Governor as Chancellor.

However, the government has assured that the recommendations will be subjected to wide-ranging discussions and legal scrutiny before being implemented.

The Commission was constituted after the government issued an order in September 2021 to examine important aspects of the existing system of higher education in the state.

The Commission is one of three panels constituted by the government to make recommendations to overhaul the state's education system.

As per the recommendations, the principal officers of the university will be the Visitor, the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, and the Pro Vice-Chancellor who will be supported by the Registrar, the Finance Officer, the Deans, and the Heads of Department. "The Vice-Chancellor must be a distinguished academic selected through public notification and a worldwide search," says the report.

The panel has also proposed a new process for selecting the Vice-Chancellors. "The university system is based on five pillars: academic freedom, financial autonomy, governance from within, bottom-up-structure of representation in academic and administrative bodies, and a complete separation of academic and administrative strands of governance," the report also reads.

Stating that Kerala urgently needs to declutter its fragmented university network, the panel proposed to end mono-disciplinary universities and gradually cluster the existing smaller universities into larger and viable entities.

The panel recommended that all universities in the state be brought under the Department of Higher Education for improved coordination. It also called for the elevation of the top 20 government colleges in the state as constituent colleges as a specific step to improve their functioning.

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TAGS:Kerala Govt Chancellor of universities 
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