Will Sree Narayana Guru Open University begin classes this year? Opposition says no

R Bindu
Higher education minister Prof R Bindu

The Opposition on Thursday warned that the delay in securing recognition from the UGC's Distance Education Directorate for Sree Narayana Guru Open University would put in a limbo the education plans of over 2.5 lakh 'plus two pass' students who depend on distance education for higher studies. Higher education minister Prof R Bindu, however, said she expected the Directorate would grant the recognition before the admission process starts in October.

"If the recognition is not granted by then, the courses would be conducted by Kerala, Kannur and Calicut universities like last year, " the minister said. She said the delay had happened because the portal through which applications had to be submitted still remained closed because of COVID.

Opposition leader V D Satheesan pointed out a problem. "This house has passed a law (Sree Narayana Guru Open University Ordinance) taking away the right of all other universities to conduct distance education courses, " Satheesan said. "How can they conduct classes violating an act passed by this house. Even if these universities go to court seeking sanction to conduct these courses, it would amount to defiance of this house, " he said.

Satheesan proposed that an amendment should be made to the ordinance allowing other universities in the state to conduct distance education courses for at least three more years. The minister did not seem enthusiastic.

Both the opposition leader and Congress's K Babu, who moved an adjournment motion on the uncertain future of the Open University, questioned the appointments made to the top posts in the University. They termed them irregular, illegal and said the appointments were the symbol of nepotism that had come to define the LDF governments.

Satheesan said the law stipulated that the Vice Chancellor should have an experience of over 10 years. "The person appointed has an experience that is far less, " Satheesan said.

The law had fixed the upper age limit for the pro vice chancellor at 60. "The person appointed is 63," Satheesan said. The registrar, as per the law, should have supervisory experience. Satheesan alleged that the chosen candidate's only experience was that he was in the staff of the former higher education minister. He wanted all the three appointments to be cancelled and new appointments made.

Prof Bindu did not respond to this but her predecessor, K T Jaleel, wanted to make a point. Satheesan refused to hear him.

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