Opposition parties in Telangana, Congress and BJP, are up in arms against the ruling TRS government over the appointment of IAS officers as caretaker/in-charge Vice-Chancellors for eight government-run universities in the state.
Following the end of tenure of eight VCs in July, the government appointed IAS officers already holding other positions in different government departments as caretaker VCs.
Principal Secretary of Municipal Administration and Urban Development Arvind Kumar has been given the charge of Osmania University and Mahatma Gandhi Universities while V Anil Kumar, Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, has been given Potti Sriramulu Telugu University and Telangana University. Principal Secretary (Agriculture) C Parthasarathi will be the caretaker for BR Ambedkar Open University and Secretary of IT department Jayesh Ranjan for JNTU-H while Education Secretary B Janardhan Reddy is looking after Kakatiya University and Rahul Bojja, Commissioner of Agriculture, is in charge of Palamuru University.
The VC of the Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University, Praveen Rao, is the only one hailing from the academic fraternity.
The opposition parties as well as academics and student leaders are alleging that the â€śdeliberate delayâ€ť in appointing permanent VCs is diluting the interests of the public universities in the state.
Speaking to TNM, senior Congressman Guduru Narayana Reddy demanded immediate appointment of VCs from academic background in order to save the universities in the state.
He said, â€śKCR is bent upon spoiling the image of the public universities, he is trying to protect the interests of his daughter who has started educational institutions.â€ť
He added, â€śHow can IAS officers look after universities? VCs should be from academia, those who have exposure and know the issues. Appointing someone who is not from the academic fraternity is unfair and idiotic.â€ť
The BJP too blamed the ruling TRS government of destroying public universities in the state. K Krishna Saagar Rao, chief spokesperson of the Telangana BJP, said that the government is â€śincompetentâ€ť even in appointing VCs for universities.
â€śKCR appointing IAS officers as in-charge VCs has showcased his governmentâ€™s utter disregard for regular administration and academic activities of the universities,â€ť he claimed.
Prof Padmaja Shaw, an activist and academic, said that such acts will affect the autonomy of universities and slowly damage public education sector.
She alleged that universities were being converted into government departments by disregarding the fact that they are centres of knowledge. She stated, â€śFrom the beginning, this government has crossed all limits to sabotage the public sector universities in the state in order to pave way for privatisation of education.â€ť
She also said that appointing IAS officers as VCs will not serve any purpose as they were already preoccupied with their regular work and also because they do not have the exposure required to run a university.
Student leaders are also calling the decision to appoint bureaucrats as VCs nothing but a move to take over the universities into the governmentâ€™s fold by subverting their autonomy.
Speaking to TNM, Stalin, a research scholar at Osmania University and AISF National Universities Coordinator, said that the state government is committed to promoting private universities and making profits while killing public universities.
He said, â€śWith the appointment of IAS officers as VCs, the KCR government wants the administration of universities to be done from the state secretariat so that they can take decisions according to their interests.â€ť
He further said, â€śAll the decisions taken by the government in the last 3-4 years have harmed public universities. In Osmania University, the government even scrapped the University Executive Council.â€ť
The Executive Council is constituted with internal and external professors to work for the university and plays a key role in decision-making.
According to Stalin, in OU alone 60% of faculty positions are vacant. He claimed that though there is sanction for over 400 faculty posts, the government is deliberately not filling them.
â€śFirst the universities will lose NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) accreditation for not maintaining academic standards and UGC will not release funds as there are no faculty as per the requisite ratio in universities. Slowly the universities will collapse and then they will be handed over to private universities, which will ultimately deprive marginalised communities of education,â€ť Stalin alleged.