After being headless for almost nine months, the University Grants Commission (UGC) finally got a permanent chairman on Friday. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) appointed Professor Dhirendra Pal Singh as the UGC chairman for a tenure of five years.
Singh has served as a Vice-Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Sagar University and Indore University in the past, and is presently serving as director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
However, two more important posts of UGC vice-chairman and secretary are still vacant.
The post of the UGC chairman was lying vacant for nine months, ever since Ved Prakash retired from the office in April this year. The post of vice-chairman is also lying vacant for over a year now, since Professor H. Devaraj retired in November last year.
After the retirement of Ved Prakash from the UGC chairman’s post, V.S. Chauhan was given the role of officiating chairman for a term of six months and recently, the MHRD had extended his tenure till 31 December.
Soon after the retirement of Ved Prakash from the UGC chairman’s post, the MHRD had set up a search-cum-selection committee, led by yoga instructor H.R. Nagendra, to look into the issue of appointment of the UGC chairperson.
Within two months, the committee shortlisted four names, including that of All India Council for Technical Education chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe, NAAC chief D.P. Singh, Banaras Hindu University vice-chancellor G.C. Tripathi and Delhi Technological University vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh, and forwarded the names to the MHRD in June for its final approval.
The MHRD had also formed another search committee in April this year to look into the matter of appointment of UGC vice-chairman, but the committee was scrapped.
Till now, no appointment has been made for the post of UGC secretary, which is also lying vacant since Jaspal Singh Sandhu joined as the Vice-Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), in August this year.
At present, the post is being handled by P.K. Thakur, a 1992 batch officer from the Allied Services, who is also the financial advisor of UGC. Thakur has been given the role of officiating secretary.
He is equivalent to the rank of joint secretary, while the rank of UGC Secretary is equivalent to that of additional secretary.
Teachers and officials of Delhi University have welcomed the appointment of the UGC chairman; however, the teachers’ community also feels that the other vacant posts should be filled soon as the UGC is an important body that regulates and provides funds to universities across the country.