Does VC selection route require overhauling to weed out favouritism?

Prof E Balaguruswami, former Vice-Chancellor of the Anna University, had once commented in a conference that ‘the Vice-Chancellors he met were mostly corrupt’. A sizeable number of academicians are also of the same view that the selection procedure of the Vice Chancellors at most of the Indian universities is controlled by politicians and hence, favouritism reigns. The recent cases of PIL filed by several people challenging appointment of Vice Chancellors in some universities throughout the country has brought this highest academic and administrative post in the university system under the scanner and has moderated its significance.

At present, appointment of Vice Chancellors in Central Universities is done by Visitor (President of India) or Chancellor out of the panel of names recommended by the Search Committee. While in case of State Universities, different states follow different procedure where, in some cases, it is the Senate which decides shortlists and sends the name to the Governor (Constitutional Head of a State) or it is the Search Committee which carries out the process instead of Senate.

UGC has its own guidelines, Union HRD Ministry has its own, and states have their own set standard rules and regulations and all these make VC selection procedure look like a process which is free from any malpractice. But on ground, the situations are completely different and in many of the cases it has been found that some or the other rule or procedure has been flouted while appointing a person as the Vice Chancellor. Thereby giving rise to questions like, has the rules and regulations of UGC not robust to select right candidate for the post of Vice Chancellor? Does the whole selection procedure require over hauling? Do the politicians and top bureaucrats control the process that it is difficult to get rid of?

The new UGC Regulations on Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education says that the VC should be a distinguished academician, with a minimum of 10 years of experience as professor in a university system or 10 years of experience in an equivalent position in a reputed research or academic administrative organisation. In past few years several Teacher Associations have been informing the Centre, State, UGC and other bodies have said that most of the VCs in the State Universities lack all these requirements.

Taking note of it, Union HRD Ministry had set up a committee headed by Prof NR Madhava Menon and it recommended that a revamping of the whole system of Vice Chancellor selection is required to minimise the malpractices being followed in the appointment. The committee recommended for doing away with the office of the Visitor in Central Universities and vesting these powers in the Office of the Chancellor, freedom to recruit distinguished faculty from anywhere in the world, to take up consultancy assignments and at the same time open the institute to independent reviews. Thus, advocating a thorough modification of the process of appointment of a VC.

Prof PT Chande, President, Association of Indian Universities talking to India Education Review on the recommendations of Menon Committee, said, “I am totally in favour of it as this process of VC selection is continuing for years and it needs over hauling and there is huge amount of favouritism in the selection process. The VC should be an academician along with understanding of administration because he has to also manage the University. At present universities in different states have different selection procedure for the VC in some state the Senate selects the VC while in some it done by the Search Committee and after interviewing they recommend the names to the Governor. The Governor should himself meet the person to be appointed and should also conduct an interview after that only the selection process should get over because interview is equally important.”

“Both the Central and State Universities need this change and I don’t think that the UGC regulation requires too much of change because, at present, in central universities it is the Centre which decides whom to appoint and in case of State Universities, it is the State Government which decides thus there is political intervention in the appointment, we have to stop that,” added Prof. Chande.  

Many of the experts are also suggesting several reformative steps which include the Search Committee should have a UGC nominee, the retiring VC should not preside over the meeting of senate or syndicate when it meets to decide nominees to be suggested to the expert committee for the post. The names selected by the Search Committee and suggested to the Chancellor should be made public and the term of the VC should not be more than five years and if a person is to be appointed again, the same procedure should be followed, thus making the selection process transparent than the existing one.  

There have been several PIL filed across India and the one which generated the debate was filed against the appointment of VC of Mumbai University and the Petitioner Jayant Jain challenged the selection procedure of search committee nominated by the Chancellor on the ground that it flouted provisions of the Maharashtra Universities Act, 1994 and Ordinances and Statutes of Mumbai University.

According to Jayant Jain, President, Forum for Fairness in Education, “The process of VC Selection is manoeuvred at each and every stage. There is a complete political control over the process and the existing rules and regulations needs to be changed to bring transparency in the system.” Vice Chancellor is the ‘Principal Academic and Executive Officer of the University’ and role is to function as a link between the academic and executive division of the university. While in the present scenario there is a cut throat competition to hold or acquire the post, all these characteristics are over and done and only prejudice prevails.

Therefore in such situations, it is just like imagination with very little relation to reality to turn Indian Universities into world class higher education institutes where the selection for the top most jobs is not done through fair means and correct procedure.To make Indian University world class, only an improvement in the quality of teaching will not solve the purpose; it will also require freedom to the Universities and it will come only when the post of Vice Chancellor is held by a person with very little proximity to the Ruling Political Party and he should be true academician and not mere an administrator. Also, the appointment should be done by the State Government in case of State Universities and by the Centre in case of Central Universities on recommendation of Search Committee of faculty, students, alumni and others as VC will be responsible to these people.

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26 thoughts on “Does VC selection route require overhauling to weed out favouritism?”

  1. Thankyou Mr Anand for picking up a burning topic. It is realy embarrassing to note the deterioration in VC’s appointments over these years.I feel that there should be a strict guideline by the UGC or other regulatory bodies for the selection a VC to maintain a minimum standard. Rules for search committee constitution shall also be delineated very clearly.Putting a wrong man in the search committee will lead to faulty selection.Dr Vardia, Dean

  2. Absolutely relevant article – an example: Prof Omprakash Mishra of Jadavpur University, West Bengal was made Pro-VC of IGNOU. Coming back he is now the General Secretary, WB Pradesh Congress Committee (INC). What a mockery!!!

  3. I strongly recommend that any political activity and influence of political parties/politicians be banned forth with, in the universities. Secondly all the administrative matters of all the Universities in India should be brought under the control of single Central Body. Third reform is: the selection of VCs and even the Registrars of the Universities across India should be made a central government activity similar to that of civil services. This will definitely curb the nepotism and corruption.

  4. The post of VC must not be restricted to academicians alone. There must be an open world-wide advertisement and persons from industry and other walks of life must be encouraged to apply. The applicant need not be a Ph.D. or Professor but must have proven managerial and leadership skills. Most academicians do not possess requisite leadership and human resource management skills and this has led to the sorry state of administration in many universities.

  5. Vigilance Clearance by CVC must be made mandatory before being considered for the post of VC in order to avoid corrupt persons being appointed to this prestigious post.

  6. I do not know very much about politics but I know one thing, a corrupt person on top position spoil all the system, and in current scenario most of the Indian Universities are facing this kind of situation in selection of right educator due to corrupt VC

  7. Most of the VCs in Indian universities are politically chosen persons who have no genuine interest in research and are devoid of any culture of encouraging research. They also do not respect excellent
    academicians. They are corruprt too. People of wisdom consider them as the ‘Chancellor of Vices’ in academics. This is one of the reason for backwardness of higher education presently in India in general and Bengal in particular. People have hope upon Ms Mamta Banerjee when she is trying to revive Bengle’s prestiage through the guidence of excellent academicians and not by the puppets and politican goons. If she becomes successful the future generation will worship her.

  8. On the comment of Dilipkumar Mohanta – Kindly note that one teachers from a state university and the other a Principal of a College of West Bengal, who are not only TMC members but (one of them) also fought last Assembly Election on TMC tickets have been made Chairman, Central School Service Commission and Prisident of Primary Education Council respectively. It is only evening now, night has not been started. Hopefully Sri Mohanta would like to review his comment “If she becomes successful the future generation will worship her”.

  9. Surely, the procedures for selection of VCs for both Central State Universities are not very appropriate. Instead of listing corrupt cases I prefer to suggest the following for improvements: 1) Advertise the posts, 2) let a separate committee scrutinize/verify the applications and make a list of eligible candidates, 3) let the search committee consisting eminent academician prepare a short list and submit to the Chancellor, 4) The Chancellor may then invite three short-listed candidates for an interaction with an expert panel consisting of fellow of National Academy, Director of National laboratory, retired Supreme Court Judge and an internationally recognized person from industry/corporate world and 5) before issuing the order clearance from intelligence may be sought, 6) politicians should not have any role in the process.

  10. To me, all the suggestions appear to be over-optimistic. We have over 300 universities each of which needs a new VC after every 3 to 5 years. I believe that India does not have such 300 persons who have (1) will to become a VC, (2) acceptance – remember that everywhere you want a local VC, (3) academic quality – only a few can have will to become VC, be active and good at academics and links in the political circles, (4) control on lust for lucre, (5) a vision – most of the people working in universities are too petty – cannot think anything beyond salaries, personal relations, misappropriation of project money, etc, (6) exposure to good universities in the world – and I know, even if some people have been educated abroad, they have learned only bad things from there.

    Please do not think that I am pessimistic – I am describing only the reality which is ugly. Otherwise, why the argument that we are not getting teachers for the institutions of higher learning? Is it simply because remuneration in the higher education institutions in not high enough? No. It is because the universities and the teachers have in the past – recent past – have produced students who are neither capable nor interested in academic. So, my dear old and junk professors, stay on till 65, till 70, till 75 and longer.

  11. Appointment of VCs in State Universities is purely on the whims of Politicians ruling in that state. My name was twice included in the list of appointee VCs by the Search Committee(SC) but the CMs ruling in the state( both Congress & Akali) over-ruled the SC recommendation. Chancellor is merely a titular head, the real authority lies with CM, who is least bothered about the recommendations of Sc set up by the Chancellor.

  12. In North America, VCs are appointed by Senate. Generally, they are not the TOPMOST Scholars. Eminent Professors do not enter race for the post of VC. I was surprised that Salary of a VC is most of times lower than an Eminent professor and he cannot interfere in department affairs. His main Function is to raise Funds for the university & preside over Senate Meetings. We have a fair system of selection for IIT Directors and VCs of Central Universities but lot of POLITICS is involved in State Universities and only lackeys of politicians get selected for this post. Selection process must be controlled by a Central agency

  13. I agree with the statement made by Prof.Balaugurusamy about the VCs who met by him are corrupt. I was affected by one such kind of VC. The VCs have paid huge amount to the politicians and got VC post and started doing business in Universities by selling the teaching and non-teaching posts and spoiling the higher education in the country.
    I am a Associate Professor and having more than 20 years of teaching and research experience. I have published more than 70 International Publications with impact factor of 130 and citation of more than 500. I have completed 14 Govt. of India funded projects and two are on going. I have produced 13 Ph.D. and 13 M.Phil students. I am a CSIR net qualified candidate, I was awarded by DBT National Overseas Associateship, Indian Best Fisheries Scientist Award and Tamil Nadu Scientist Award. Transferred two technologies of my research outcomes for benefit of society and industry.
    I am the only Indian with designation of OIE Expert by World Organization for Animal Health, Paris and I am the only Indian in the Contributors list for preparing the Diagnostic Manual for Aquatic Animal Health. Having many International and National research collaborations.
    With all these merits, I was not selected for the post of Professor. The funny thing is that a fellow without any merit and with many manipulation in the application, a person was selected for this post because of a corrupted VC as stated by Prof.Balagurusamy. The selected candidate is with second class in M.Sc (with manipulated mark and multiple attempts), not having any completed major research projects and only 4 International papers.
    My case is an ideal example for the corruption done by VCs in our country as quoted by Prof.Balagurusamy. I have gone to Hon’ble High Court for justice.
    I am looking for the people to support and fight for this kind of activities to save higher education. Please help me to get justice. The only weapon in my case is RTI. With this, I am getting important documents to support my case. Thank to RTI and the people who brought RTI.
    Please help me and save higher education in the country. Please contact me through my email