ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Implementation of the Maharashtra Universities Act

An evaluation of the implementation of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994 shows that individuals who excel in electoral arithmetic, rather than academics or academic administrators, occupy important posts in universities. The state government has appointed three committees to suggest reforms in higher education. Not only is there a need for a new legislative enactment, these committees also face the challenging task of recommending changes that will lead to academic freedom and accountability in the state's universities.

Recently, the Government of Maharashtra announced the formation of three committees to suggest measures for reform of higher education. While two of these have been given the task of looking at the existing Maharashtra Universities (MU) Act, 1994, recommending new legislative enactments, and bifurcation of universities, the third committee has been given a much broader mandate. It has been asked to suggest ways and means to improve the standard and quality of higher education. There are other issues which they are mandated to look at within a holistic framework (http://techedu.maharashtra. gov.in/english/dcmNew/index_UC.php? departmentCode=2402) of reforms.

This raises several concerns. First, with three committees there is the risk of contradictory recommendations. Second, there is no representation from the social sciences and the legal field, both essential for (re)drafting of the Act. Third, the committees’ recommendations will be examined by another committee chaired by the education minister. The political control over higher education in Maharashtra is so deeply embedded that reforms leading to academic freedom and excellence look like a distant possibility.

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