At a time when Bihar wants to increase the gross enrolment ratio (GER) and usher in much needed reforms, several key positions across educational institutes in the state remain vacant at the top.
Three universities of Bihar are currently without full-fledged vice chancellors and under additional charge of VCS of other universities, while the key position of the vice-chairman of the State Higher Education Council (SHEC) is vacant since March 28, when the first chairman Prof Kameshwar Jha retired.
SHEC is a mandatory requirement under the Rashtriya Uchchatara Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), a strategic intervention during the 12th and 13th plan period, with focuses on state universities and institutions, so that the GER could be taken to 30% by 2020. Bihar still has a long way to go to be anywhere near that, with the GER barely around 14%, including the huge enrolments through distance learning mode.
Besides, frequent reshuffling or resignation of registrars ever since Bihar’s experiment of appointing retired brigadier and colonel ranked officers to the key positions last year have also not helped.
While the vice-chancellors of Magadh University and BRA Bihar University had to resign after chancellor’s displeasure, the VC of Nalanda Open University RK Sinha resigned earlier this month to move to Jammu & Kashmir as the VC of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU), Katra.
Sinha’s three-year term as VC of NOU was to end on April 29, 2020. After his resignation, Patna University VC Rash Bihari Prasad Sinha has been given the additional charge of NOU.
Two big universities, Magadh University (Bodh Gaya) and BRA Bihar University (Muzaffarpur), are presently under additional charge of VCS of Veer Kunwar Singh University (Ara) and Purnea University respectively.
In Magadh University, former pro-vc KN Paswan became the acting VC after the removal of former VC Qamar Ahasan, but he also had to quit later. Since then, VKSU VC DP Tewari is holding the additional charge of controversy-ridden MU.
Tiwari himself took over the new assignment in March as VC of VKSU, which had remained without a full-fledged VC for nearly a year. However, he was immediately saddled with additional charge of another big university, which was left with neither a VC nor a pro-vc.
At BRA Bihar University, Purnea University VC Rajesh Singh holds the additional charge since May, though the two universities are at a distance of nearly 225 kms, requiring 5-6 hours of journey by road. He took over after the previous incumbent Amarendra Narayan Yadav was asked to quit.
Though BRABU has a pro-vc, he was overlooked, while in a couple of other universities, the charge was given to pro-vcs under similar situations in the recent past, viz. Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University, VKSU and MU.
“There was a period six years ago when one VC held charge of up to three-four universities in the state and the issue of appointment to key academic positions landed up in the Supreme Court for a long legal battle. A uniform yardstick will help,” said a senior academician, who did not want to be identified.
The chancellor’s office had sought applications for MU and BRABU earlier, but the respective search committees are yet to finalise names to prepare the panels of 3-5 shortlisted names, which would then be sent to the chancellor for selecting one each in consultation with the CM.