Private universities and colleges will have to provide the 10% quota for candidates from so-called economically weaker sections (EWS) as well as for those from the scheduled castes (SCs),scheduled tribes (STs), and other backward classes (OBCs) from academic session 2019-20 itself, Union Human Resources Development (HRD) minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.
This will hold true for both aided and unaided private colleges, a senior HRD ministry official said, adding that the government hopes to achieve this through a bill that it plans to introduce in the budget session of Parliament that will make it necessary for all private colleges to create not just the EWS quota, but also force those that currently do not have a SC, ST, OBC quota to introduce these.
“A bill will be brought, most likely in the budget session of the Parliament, to give reservations to the economically weaker section among the general category, and also to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes as well as the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in the unaided institutions also,” the official added.
That could be contentious. Unaided private colleges currently do not provide SC, ST, and OBC quota after the Allahabad High Court ruled in a case in 2011 that they do not need to. Legal experts have used that as a basis to suggest that even the EWS quota will not apply to unaided private institutions. A challenge of the Allahabad court’s decision is before the Supreme Court.
The minister said the number of seats in all institutions could rise by as much as 25% as they create space for EWS candidates, but without reducing the number of seats meant for other students.
“From 2019-2020 academic sessions we will have this reservation implemented while keeping intact the SC, ST and OBC reservation. This will be done by creating additional seats. The orders will be released by the UGC, AICTE and the ministry of Human Resource Development in a week,” Javadekar said.
This is a major decision and we will inform the parliament about it, he added.
“Actually, the number of additional seats to created will be more than 10%. Say, if 100 people are admitted in a college today, the number will rise to 125. Only then all will everyone get the benefit in correct proportion,” Javadekar said.
All told, around 3.3 million new seats will be created, the HRD ministry official added.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) data, there are 343 private universities, 25,383 colleges, 6,700 stand-alone institutions, in the country. All 32,426 institutions will provide reservation to all the weaker sections, the official said.
For government and government-aided institutions, an official memorandum on the quota will be issued, he added.
The minister expressed confidence that state governments and private colleges across the country will come on board and support the Narendra Modi government’s move to bring a quota for the poor among the general category.
In response to a query on how the government would deal with the situation in the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management where admission tests for the 2019-20 batch has already been conducted, Javadekar said his ministry is examining the issue.
Last week, parliament passed the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, which was notified by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on Monday. The act allows the government to reserve seats for the economically weaker sections among those in the unreserved category.
“To extend the constitutional mandate of reservations for socially backward and economically weaker sections in all state and self-financing private IHEs is a politically correct decision. Also welcome is the decision of increasing the total number of seats by 25% so that the numbers of seats for every category doesn’t fall below their existing numbers,” educationist and former UGC member Inder Mohan Kapahy said.
However, he doubted whether the move will be successful at the ground level, especially for those who cannot afford to pay high fees charged by private institutes. “The MHRD, UGC & AICTE should study the situation in private non-grant schools relating to admission of weaker sections,” Kapahy added.
Prof PK Khosla, vice chancellor of Himachal Pradesh-based Shoolini University, said the move was in line with the objectives of social empowerment and upliftment of weaker sections of the society. “Such a move was overdue and will prove a transformational step towards building the nation. Private institutions must contribute in equal measure to uplift the society,” he said, adding that such institutes must be given time to create infrastructure for additional admissions.
In another key decision, ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Centre also gave its nod to a proposal to extend the Seventh Central Pay Commission to the teachers and other academic staff of the state government and government-aided degree level technical institutions in the country.
The move will cost the Centre an additional ₹1241.78 crore, Javadekar said. He said the Centre will reimburse 50% of the total additional expenditure from 2016 to March 2019 to be incurred by these institutes for payment of arrears.
“This will directly benefit a total of 29,264 teachers and other academic staff of state government funded institutes. Besides, about 3.5 lakh teachers and other academic staff of private colleges within the purview of AICTE will also benefit,” he added.