The Gujarat government’s plan to replace elected bodies in public universities with boards of governors has been put on hold due to the upcoming Assembly elections in 2022. This would have required bringing about major changes in the Universities Act — something that has been pushed back to the “long-term” list for the government.
A committee formed for the implementation of the National Education Policy 2020 had suggested to the state in September this year the “amendment of the Universities Act regarding the mandate for having a Board of Governors and establish the role of existing executive councils in university governance”. It was chaired by Navin Sheth, Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat Technological University.
The 16-member roadmap committee had drawn up possible changes in “governance and leadership”, including the replacement of elected members of the syndicate and senate with a board of governors in the immediate action plan.
“Autonomy for institutes is at the heart of the National Education Policy 2020. The roadmap looks at changes required to being in autonomous education institutes on the lines of IITs, NITs and IIMs,” said Sheth. He explained that since this requires a complete change in the governance structure, the academic autonomy process is to begin “after four years, followed by de-affiliation and de-accreditation process.”
Some universities established in the state after the government passed the Private Universities Bill 2009, including Gujarat Technological University, Shri Govind Guru University Godhra and Bhakt Kavi Narsinh Mehta University Junagadh, already has the board of governors structure.
In April 2020, the Gujarat government had repealed the existing Gujarat Ayurved University Act, 1965 and passed the Gujarat Ayurved University Bill 2021, through which the elected bodies of syndicate and senate in the university and its affiliated colleges were replaced. The Bill mandates the board of governors as the “supreme authority” of the university.
The implementation roadmap of the National Education Policy has been divided into three time-bound phases — zero to three years, four to six and seven to 10 years. On December 5, Gujarat Education Minister Jitu Vaghani declared that the state government has plans to implement the National Education Policy 2020 by 2030.