West Bengal passes Bill to Improve Higher Education


The state assembly of West Bengal passed the West Bengal Universities and Colleges (Administration and Regulation) Bill, 2017 on the 9th of February 2017 while the members of opposition parties Congress and Left Front. The aim of this bill is to ensure a far improved level of administration as well as an ideal ecosystem for the system of higher education in the state.

What is being done

The MLAs of the Left Front, as well as the Congress were in the second day of their continued boycott of the house on the day of the session. They have been protesting against what they have alleged to be the assault on the Leader of the Opposition, Abdul Mannan on the 8th of February 2017, they held joint protests outside the house for this reason. Mannan was being evicted by the marshal from the house on the 8th of February when he took ill and was subsequently hospitalized.

The Higher Education Minister of the state of West Bengal Partha Chatterjee mentioned that there existed no intention from the government to interfere politically in the administration and related affairs of academic institutions, he said while tabling the bill at the house. This move, he said confidently, would be the first step towards a road that would ensure the improved functioning of the universities aided by the state as well as those aided by the government in the state of West Bengal.

This bill was a necessity in the road to improving the standards of institutions of higher education in West Bengal, according to the Higher Education Minister. The bill would also work to bring in a certain amount of standardization as well as uniformity in the rules, regulations, standards, practices and procedures of these institutions of higher learning.

The bill would give a degree of clear and crisp definition with regard to the duties and rights of each of the several stakeholders in each set-up and would usher in a higher level of responsibility, accountability and transparency across the employees as well as the managements who are a part of these institutions of higher education which are funded publicly. This would be done as per design so that the same institutions may achieve far more vibrant and efficient levels of excellence and thus, lead to a more involved, adaptive and globally competitive system of higher education in the state of West Bengal.

Chatterjee went on to say that a certain significant amount of control and powers with respect to the governing bodies of those colleges which are aided by the government would be granted to them by the bill which include powers relating to functions, powers and constitution. This bill would work to enable the principals and even the vice-chancellors of various state and government aided colleges and universities to maintain the levels of decorum and discipline they require as well as the accountability of their employees. This has been a long time in requirement due to the several instances of administrative and financial irregularities that have been observed in various colleges and universities across West Bengal.

This bill also specified the submission of annual performance appraisal reports as well as annual declarations of assets by each and every employee at the colleges which are affected by this bill in the state. The Provident Fund accounts of each of the employees of these universities and colleges would also now be maintained in the treasury of the state government, said Chatterjee.

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