Irreparable damage to state’s higher education sector, courtesy the Governor-Govt spat

It definitely doesn’t augur well for the state’s higher education sector that as many as five universities are currently functioning with Vice Chancellors appointed on a stop-gap basis. The situation is the by-product of the ongoing game of one-upmanship between Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the government for which, sadly, the academic community has to pay the price.
The UGC has issued clear-cut regulations on Vice Chancellor appointments in universities. Despite the Supreme Court holding that UGC norms need to be strictly followed in VC selection, it is still a non-starter in the state. While the Governor insists on the UGC-stipulated three member selection cum search committee to choose the Vice Chancellor, the LDF government wants an upper-hand in VC selection by carrying out the process by a five member panel. The government had even amended the university acts for the purpose but the Governor cleverly checkmated the move by withholding assent to the Bill.

The universities where Vice Chancellors have been appointed on a temporary basis include: Kerala University, APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, Kerala Agricultural University and Thunchath Ezhuchachan Malayalam University. Ironically, the Vice Chancellor given temporary charge of Malayalam University is MG University VC Sabu Thomas.
In the hurry to put up a stop-gap arrangement, the Governor perhaps conveniently forgot that Sabu was among the VCs who were issued show cause notice by him earlier as his selection was not as per UGC norms. The government too has chosen not to created fresh roadblocks for Sabu as he was appointed during the first Pinarayi Vijayan government’s tenure.
According to academics, the Governor-government tussle can wax and wane depending on the occasional back-channel negotiations between both sides. But the harm it is afflicting to the state’s higher education sector is undoubtedly irreparable.