Himachal Pradesh state government cleared The State Higher Education Council (Establishment and Regulation) Bill (2018) on the last session of winter session amidst chaos.
According to the government officials, this bill is a revolutionizing step taken towards refining the existing education system of Himachal Pradesh. This bill will help in efficient management of the resources of the universities and institutions of the state. The bill is intended to organize the structural framework of the institutions and to effectively regulate them. On the other hand, the bill was heavily criticized by the leaders of the opposition parties including CPI(M) and Congress. They made allegations against the bill which included curbing of autonomy of institutions and controlling the flow of funds to universities.
The state government will elect the first chairperson to head the committee which will be followed by election by the selection committee members. It should be noted that the three members of the selection committee include the Chief Minister, Education Minister and leader of the opposition. So, the opposition will play a major role in electing the chairperson.
Despite the clearance of the bill, many MLAs of the opposition were against it. According to CPI(M) MLA Rakesh Singha, the bill contains many errors and is not drafted efficiently. Furthermore, he also added that the statements inside the bill were contradictory and they do not appear to target the regulation of institutions. Singha also added that institutions like UGC are efficiently governing the educational institutions throughout the nations. There is no sense in passing such a bill and the current bill is nothing but a duplicate and a better one can be drafted by a KG student.
Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu demanded the meeting of the selection committee to be held in every three months instead of six months. Furthermore, he asked for the revision of this bill. Apart from this, MLA Jagat Singh Negi demanded to send this bill in front of the selection committee. Negi also claimed that the government is trying to control the fundings of institutions and to dissolve the autonomy of the universities.
On the other hand, Education Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Suresh Bharadwaj said that with the help of this bill, the educational affairs of the state will be seen by a deserving and prominent educationist which will be beneficial for the institutions and the education system of Himachal Pradesh.
Bharadwaj also said that the council already existed but the government only gave it an ordinance. He added that the council will only be governing the path of the funding received by the institutions under the centrally sponsored Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA). It should be known that the central government provides strategic funding to the higher institutions which are eligible. This funding flows from the central government to the Higher Education Council of the respective state and then it is finally received by the university/institution. Prior to this, the council was headed by the Chief Minister himself but now after the clearance of this bill, the council will be headed by an educationist elected by the selection committee.