Both the Telugu states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, have finally decided to open up to private universities. The TDP government in Andhra Pradesh has finalised a draft bill to be introduced in the winter session of the Assembly next month, while Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) has decided to bring in a bill in the budget session of the Assembly that begins on 27 January.
AP and Telangana are among the few major states, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Jharkhand being the others, that have not allowed private universities yet. The remaining states, including some UTs, have permitted as many as 124 private universities till now.
The UGC Act allows setting up of private and deemed universities, but different states have to allow them to function from their jurisdiction. For this, over 20 states have passed laws or issued executive orders permitting private and deemed universities.
The combined AP used to have around 40 state-run universities, besides half a dozen Central universities, four deemed and two private universities. But, after the bifurcation last year, all deemed and private varsities have gone to AP.
The Telangana government currently is in a dilemma on allowing campus colleges in the state as these private varsities are headquartered in AP.
AP is the first to make a move on this front. CM Chandrababu Naidu, immediately after assuming charge last year, ordered for a comprehensive private universities bill to be readied. Now the draft bill is on the website of the Andhra Pradesh State Council for Higher Education (APSCHE). “The bill will be placed in the winter session of Assembly,” APSCHE chairman Prof Venugopal Reddy said.
Though KCR resisted private universities to keep state universities staff unions happy, he has finally given in to pressure from business bodies like the CII and NASSCOM, which have said that there is a severe shortage of manpower trained to the needs of the industry.
Deputy CM Kadiam Srihari, who handles the higher education portfolio, will convene a meeting next week to draft the bill. A panel of eminent educationists, too, will be set up for the purpose.
The two states are eyeing a lucrative market of Rs 10,000 crore in higher education in the form of private universities in the next five years. “We don’t look at higher education as a market, but we envisage an investment to the tune of around Rs 2,000 crore in the private varsities sector in the first two years,” said Telangana State Higher Education Council vice-chairman Prof Chalam.
AP has set the criteria for higher educational institutions. They require a standing of not less than 10 years and a corpus fund of Rs 50 crore for applicants. Telangana, too, is likely to fix a minimum 10 years’ standing and a corpus fund of not less than Rs 100 crore along with backing of a reputed research institution or panel of experts on board for the applicants to set up private universities.
Officials in the higher education councils of both states estimate setting up around 10 new universities in the next two years.