The Andhra Pradesh government announced on Monday that 50% of seats in private universities in the state must be filled under the ‘convenor quota’ henceforth. The decision was announced after a review meeting held by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, following a discussion on licensing and regulation of private universities. Currently, private colleges in the state affiliated to state government universities have a major chunk of the seats filled through the ‘convenor quota’ or government quota, which ensures that admissions happen through a centralised process monitored by the state government.
In case of professional courses like BTech and BPharm (Bachelor of Technology and Bachelor of Pharmacy), 70% of the seats in private colleges affiliated to state universities fell under the convenor quota. For these seats, admissions happened through common entrance tests held by the state government. The remaining seats are filled by the college independently, under the college quota, which includes management quota or NRI quota, with no cap over the fees.
In the case of degree courses like BA, BCom etc, admissions to all seats in state university affiliated private colleges are being done under the convenor quota through a common centralised process, according to Special Chief Secretary for Higher Education Satish Chandra. However, until now, private universities in the state were free to fill all the seats completely on their own. That has now changed.
The proposal to have a 50% convenor quota in private universities means that the fee structure for these seats will be fixed by the government. “Private universities will have to follow the state government’s reservation criteria while conducting admissions to these seats on the basis of merit. The fees will be fixed by the government and students who qualify for government aid under welfare programmes will have their fees reimbursed by the government,” Satish Chandra told TNM.
Some of the major private universities in the state include the VIT-AP University, SRM University, and Saveetha Amaravati University near the Amaravati capital region, Centurion University in Vizianagaram, Krea University in Sri City, and the Bharatiya Engineering Science & Technology Innovation University in Anantapur.
Students who qualify for admissions under the convenor quota, and are eligible for government welfare schemes will have their fees reimbursed under the ‘Vidya Deevena’ and ‘Vasathi Deevena’ schemes, for tuition and hostel fees.
Chief Minister Jagan also directed officials to monitor private universities in the state and ensure that they are meeting the required standards, asking them to take action if they fail to do so.
The YSRCP government has initiated several measures to regulate private colleges, starting with setting up the Andhra Pradesh School Education and Higher Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commissions soon after coming to power. At the time, Jagan had said that the government would make education accessible to low-income and middle-income communities.
“Education is not a business, it’s a service,” he had said. However, private colleges have resisted the government’s attempts at regulation on various occasions. The Andhra Pradesh Higher Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission (APHERMC) had earlier issued orders to reduce the fees for postgraduate medical and dental courses in private medical colleges. However, the colleges initially refused to admit students, and later agreed to the fee structure fixed by the government, on the condition of collecting a fixed additional amount from students.
More recently, online admissions to Intermediate courses (equivalent to classes 11 and 12) were stayed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court after several private junior college managements objected to the new process, which would require admissions to happen through a central portal set up by the state’s Board of Intermediate Education. The High Court also recently issued interim orders suspending a Government Order (GO) limiting student intake to 360 in each year for Intermediate, after hearing petitions filed by private college managements against the order.
Recently, on October 30, the state government issued orders to slash tuition fees for Intermediate by 30% in private junior colleges, based on the recommendation of the Andhra Pradesh School Education Regulatory and Monitoring Commission (APSERMC).