Indian Campus

RUSA rains fire on state higher education sector

RUSA

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The fresh guidelines announced by the union government for providing financial assistance to higher education institutions has turned out to be dumpster fire for Kerala.

RUSA

As per the new guidelines, none of the government institutions in the state would be eligible for any major funding from Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), the mission mode project under the union ministry of human resources for distribution of funds for quality enhancement of higher education institutions in the country.

Since the union government holds autonomy as the only mantra to improve the quality of higher education institutions, the state government would have to either set aside its political anathema against autonomy or dare to forgo the state’s due share of fund from the centre.

The major scheme in the revised guideline is an assistance up to Rs 55 crore to autonomous institutions with NAAC accreditation and minimum 3.51 GCPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average), for upgrading them into universities. Maximum of three autonomous colleges from a state would be eligible to apply for the assistance under this scheme.

Of the 19 arts and science colleges to whom the former UDF government had bestowed autonomy, Maharajas is the only college in government sector. The college that witnessed prolonged protests against autonomy, however, doesn’t has the CGPA required to apply for the university status.

Though Rajagiri College of Social Science is the only autonomous college that meet the prerequisite for applying for university status, the state government is unlikely to give green signal for the same.

 “By projecting autonomy as a panacea for all the quality issues in higher education institutions in the country, the union government is trying to bypass all democratic values and systems. RUSA has diminished the role of UGC and it is just an arm of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The revised guidelines are not at all favourable to the conditions in Kerala. The union government is trying to establish a system of selective funding to a few. A good number of institutions would parish in the process. Many state governments meekly follow the guidelines for the funding purpose ”, said State higher education council vice chairman Rajan Gurukkal.
 According to the new guidelines, the state higher education councils should have only academicians in the posts of chairman and vice chairman. Currently, state education minister is the chairman of the council.
If the composition of the council is not according to RUSA directives, such state higher education councils will not be eligible for any funding from RUSA. Higher education secretary would continue to be the state project director, while the guidelines warns strongly against the appointment of bureaucrats in the top echelons of higher education institutions.
According to sources, in the background of the new guidelines, the higher education department is actively considering an option to grant autonomy to heritage colleges; University college, Thiruvananthapuram, Brennan College, Thalasery and Victoria College, Palakad, so as to prepare them to be eligible for huge financial assistance in their march towards university status.
The left parties and SFI had relentlessly fought against the former UDF government when there was a move to accord academic autonomy to the age old colleges. RUSA funding is available only for government and aided colleges.