Political interference in Uttar Pradesh universities annoys UGC

Lucknow, Aug 2 (IANS) Annoyed by the “political interference” in Uttar Pradesh universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) is highly critical of the academic standards and the quality of higher education in the state.

UGC Chairman Prof. Sukhdev Thorat expressed his displeasure about the functioning of the universities in the state at a closed-door conference of vice chancellors here Wednesday.

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According to sources, Thorat was of the view that “no university in Uttar Pradesh appears to have the potential to be developed into a centre of excellence”.

The UGC chairman, sources said, also expressed grave concern over what he termed as “political interference” in the working of universities in the state. He stressed upon the need for politicians to realise that they must respect the autonomy of all institutions of higher learning “in the larger interest of academic excellence”.

While Thorat primarily blamed the state government for “lack of adequate support”, he was equally critical of vice chancellors and academics for not taking any initiative in improving the state of affairs on the campuses.

“The fact that nearly 35 percent of UP’s government-run and state-funded colleges had not been accorded permanent affiliation reflects the pathetic state of academics in these colleges,” Thorat told the gathering, according to sources.

“There are as many as 242 such colleges affiliated to 13 universities in the state but 70 of these could not be given permanent affiliation because of sheer lack of the prescribed facilities,” he lamented. “Likewise, only 23 of the 311 departments under these universities had been found fit for grants under UGC’s special assistance programme.”

What annoyed him even more was the failure of most universities in the state to utilise UGC grants, said the sources.

“I fail to understand why universities were also not utilising funds given under various schemes for backward classes, girls and minorities,” Thorat wondered.

Advocating the need for large-scale reforms in higher education, the UGC chief proposed to introduce a system of evaluation of teachers as a part of the 11th Five Year Plan.

He was also keen to make accreditation of all institutions by the National Accreditation and Assessment Council mandatory, sources said.