Eight new universities will come up in Karnataka as per the Karnataka State Universities (Amendment) Act that was passed in the state legislative assembly on Wednesday, September 21. New universities will be set up in Bidar, Haveri, Kodagu, Chamrajangar, Hassan, Bagakote and Koppal. In addition to this, the unitary college at Mandya will be upgraded to a varsity. With this, the number of universities in the state will increase to 69 (including 25 private and 11 deemed-to-be universities).
According to Times of India, Higher Education Minister CN Ashwath Narayan, who introduced the Bill, said that this is the first amendment to the Act in 22 years. He said that the government decided to open a university in every district due to changed realities. He added that the intention behind the amendment was to ensure that there is equality and empowerment in accessing education. The state will spend Rs 14 crore initially to establish these universities and will allocate Rs 2 crore every year for each university.
The move has invited mixed reactions across parties. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised questions on why Uttara Kannada and Chikkamagalur were left out, Congress called it an 'appeasement' move ahead of the assembly elections next year.
Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri was also critical of the move as he pointed out that the infrastructure and quality of education in existing universities is dropping. He said that the government must focus on improving established universities instead of setting up new ones.
Congress MLA Priyank Kharge said that this move was solely for political leverage and that it was not possible to establish universities with a budget of Rs 14 crore. Another Congress leader Krishna Byre Gowda also pointed out that it would take at least Rs 100 crore to set up universities and asked why more universities should be set up when the financial strength of the existing ones was "pathetic."