Mumbai: A delegation led by Republican Party of India (A) president Ramdas Athawale met Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranaryanan yesterday and demanded that some places be reserved for weaker segments of society in self-financed private universities.
The delegation told the Governor that the Self-financed Universities Bill recently passed by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly did not provide for constitutional safeguards to the weaker sections, including Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Vimukta Jati and Nomadic Tribes (VJNT) and other backward classes (OBC), guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
Athawale demanded private and unaided universities should ensure reserved spaces for the weaker sections of society, as the provisions of the Maharashtra Universities' Act 1994 also did not reflect this.
The new bill is meant to promote higher education and encourage participation by the private sector in setting up self-financed universities in the state. This step has been taken by other states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Karnataka.
Though this move will not put a financial burden on the state exchequer, Athwale earlier alleged that the passing of the bill in haste indicated that the state government was working under the pressure of education barons and industrialists.
Many politicians of Maharashtra are education tycoons who have built an empire but there remains a shortage of seats in medical, engineering and technical courses. This forces students to pay very high prices to be admitted.
The delegation also told the Governor that the decision-making authorities of the self-financed universities including the governing body should have representation of SC, ST, and OBCs.
Athawale also wants private universities to be brought under the control of the University Grants Commission and Human Resources Development ministry.