Soon, the free-flowing knowledge culture of higher education will stop being a right for all and will become the privilege of a few
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) declared five public universities as Institutions of Eminence in an order issued on September 4, 2019. These are IIT Madras, Banaras Hindu University, IIT Kharagpur, University of Hyderabad and University of Delhi.
As a member of University of Delhi, it should have been a moment of pride for me and all my colleagues and students. However, most of us are not happy. We are, in fact, scared and agitated.
It then turns what it has made available for itself, in this case educational infrastructure, into a source of creating profit. The NEP in this regard is the concrete embodiment of the changed educational and social priorities of the state. Higher Education Financial Assistance is merely a body that embodies the state-finance capital nexus.
The first step in this direction is doing away with the UGC and instead forming NHERA (National Higher Education Regulatory Authority) which would be purely a non-academic financial arm of the government. NHERA shall be the sole regulator for all higher education, including professional education (page 326).
To facilitate privatisation, NEP proposes to implement a uniform administrative structure designed to execute the industrial policy of hire and fire. These intentions are made amply clear where the NEP talks about the “tenure track” appointment. To quote extensively from the draft, “A robust and merit-based tenure track, promotion and salary structure will be developed, with multiple levels within each faculty rank to incentivise and recognise excellent and “committed” faculty through tenure, promotions and salary increases” (page 258). This system of tenure track appointment will keep the teachers permanently temporary and at the service of their masters where extra academic considerations will replace academics and free and fearless pursuit of knowledge, “An appropriately designed tenure track system for faculty will be introduced for all college and university staff, including the faculty” (page 260).