People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 16

April 27, 2008


On Demand For Central Legislation For Social Control Of Private Unaided

Institutions Of Higher Education

Resolution Adopted at the 19th Congress on April 3, 2008

THIS XIX Congress of the CPI(M) expresses its grave concern that, under the neo-liberal dispensation, the State is abdicating its social responsibility with respect to education and is promoting education as a profit-generating activity. Further, in the name of public-private partnership, there is large-scale privatisation of public assets like land being handed over to private institutions. While the government has failed to meet the growing demand for higher education by opening new educational institutions, it has encouraged the proliferation of private colleges and universities in the guise of deemed universities.

No less than 12,316 new colleges were established between 1990-91 and 2005-06. The number of universities increased from 185 to 369 in the same period. Nearly 90 per cent of the professional colleges in our country are in the private sector, and the large majority of universities established in the specified period were in the private sector. Their number increased from 29 to 109, which is an increase by an astonishing 276 per cent.

Private managements are a law unto themselves, openly violating many norms and regulations, and affecting adversely the quality of education imparted in these institutions. There is no control on the fees that they collect, or on admission procedures and course content, or on the general management of institutions.

Beginning with the judgement in the T M A Pai case in 2002, private managements have been empowered by a series of judgements of the Supreme Court. These have had the effect of dismantling even the inadequate regulations that existed. This dismantling has been effected in the name of the protection of an individual’s “fundamental right” to establish an educational institute, over which, allegedly, the State should have no control. Even reservations provided to SC and ST students in these institutions have been construed as State interference in the management of private unaided institutions. Such judgements also affect the rights of state governments, since they are unable to prevent any individual from opening an institution. At the same time, central agencies like the AICTE, MCI and NCTE have appropriated the right to decide the standards for granting recognition to institutions, as a result of which educational standards and the quality of education have deteriorated.

The attitude of the court can also be gauged by the fact that it has stayed the legislation to give effect to the 93rd Constitutional Amendment, which was adopted by parliament unanimously in 2006. This Act was to ensure social justice to students of the socially and economically backward classes by means of reserving 27 per cent of the seats in central government higher educational institutions for them, while increasing the number of seats as a whole so as to protect candidates in the general category.

The initiative taken by the Left and Democratic Front government in Kerala to adopt legislation to ensure social control over unaided private institutions has also been struck down by the court. The CPI(M) has been consistent in its strong support of Article 30 of the Constitution, which is intended to protect the educational rights of minorities. These rights, however, should not be misused in order to deny the poor and oppressed sections their legitimate right and access to higher education.

It is therefore imperative for the UPA government to bring forth legislation to counter the challenges of growing anarchy, profiteering and deteriorating standards in higher education.

The XIX Congress demands that the UPA government enact legislation that empowers all state governments to enforce social control over private unaided education institutions in respect of fees, admissions and course content.

The XIX Congress urges the entire academic community and other sections of society to join the struggle for such legislation.