To check the menace of donations and regulate admissions in colleges, the state government on Thursday introduced the ‘Maharashtra Unaided Private Professional Education Institutions (Regulation of Admission Fees) Act, 2015,’ in the assembly.
The bill, introduced by higher and technical education minister Vinod Tawde, proposes to establish two authorities: one to regulate admissions and conduct a common entrance test through centralized admission process, another to regulate fees in unaided private professional institutions. The two authorities, to be called the ‘Admission Regulating Authority (ARA)’ and ‘Fee Regulating Authority (FRA)’ respectively, will be headed by retired high court chief justices and comprise different sets of members. However, both will be controlled by the state higher and technical education department and the medical education and drugs department. A similar legislation was enacted by the Karnataka government in 2006.
Admissions to professional courses are currently conducted according to guidelines framed by the Supreme Court while delivering a landmark verdict in the case of TMA Pai Foundation versus the Karnataka government.
So far the common entrance test (CET) and admissions were conducted by the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) and Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER). Once the bill is cleared by the assembly, the ARA will establish a CET cell and monitor its function. It will be headed by an officer of the rank of joint secretary, who will be designated as ‘commissioner of CET’.
Similarly, fees currently regulated by Shikshan Shulk Samiti will be fixed by the FRA for unaided colleges on the basis of various factors like infrastructure and facilities offered. It will have to complete the formalities within four months of receiving the proposal from a college. The FRA would also be responsible for verification and cancellation of admissions and will adjudicate disputes between stakeholders.
The government will have the power to appoint chairpersons and members for both authorities, who shouldn’t be associated with any private institution directly or indirectly. They will have a tenure of five years and won’t be eligible for reappointment. Interestingly, both will have powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and can levy hefty penalties.