In a major development, the Haryana government has refused to provide grants to eight state universities to run operations for the current fiscal year. A letter from the Finance Department to the Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Higher Education suggests that the government has sanctioned loans worth Rs 147.75 crore to state universities. The institutions will have to bear the expenses alone.
The letter reads: “The finance department agrees with the administrative department to approve the loan of Rs 147.75 crore as the 1st installment for state universities under the scheme.”
According to the document, Kurukshetra University (Kurukshetra), Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) (Rohtak), Chaudhary Devi Lal University (Sirsa), Bhagat Phool Singh Women’s University (Sonipat), Indira Gandhi University (Rewari), Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar National Law University (Sonipat), Chaudhary Bansi Lal University (Bhiwani), Chaudhary Ranbir Singh University (Jind), Mahrishi Balmiki Sanskrit University will receive Rs 59 crore, Rs 23.75 crore, Rs 10 crore, Rs 12.50 crore, Rs 4.50 crore, Rs 7.25 crore, Rs 10 crore, Rs 5.50 crore and Rs 8.75 crore, respectively.
The move has angered student organizations, teachers and political parties, who accuse the Khattar-led BJP government of pushing for the privatization of higher education.
Vinod Gill, Unit President of All India Haryana Federation of Students, said NewsClick that this move should be seen as consistent with ongoing experiments across the state where the government is backing away from its responsibility to provide affordable education.
“We believe this decision clearly shows what the government wants to do with higher education. at Rs 600 and inter-university migration from Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000. from Rs 35,000 to Rs 90,000/year The accommodation fee has been increased from Rs 13,000 to Rs 26,000 After our struggle and our three-day strike, the accommodation fee has been canceled The government wants let the students and their parents bear the expense, and we will not tolerate that. We are meeting with other student organizations to prepare a plan for greater unrest soon.”
Opposition also comes from the Indian National Students Organization (INSO), the student wing of the Jannayak Janta Party, the BJP’s alliance partner in Haryana.
INSO National Chairman Pradeep Deswal reportedly said that the state government was depriving students from economically disadvantaged sections of access to higher education through the decision.
The decision has also infuriated teachers who say universities will have to raise fees to repay the loan.
Vikas Siwach, President of the Haryana Federation of University and College Teachers Organizations (HFUCTO), said NewsClick that the move remains arbitrary and is designed to show them in a bad light in the future.
“The government has already taken its hands off healthcare in the state and is now moving towards education. The government collects thousands of crores from the people but where does it intend to spend it If universities should be self-funding?Secondly, universities came into existence through acts passed by the Assembly of Haryana.They decided without getting its assent because they knew it would be violently opposed. It’s completely arbitrary, and college professors will fight it tooth and nail until it’s overturned.
Surendra Kumar, a retired MDU professor, said NewsClick that the decision goes against the letter and spirit of the New Education Policy (NEP), which recommends that the government provide stable funding to educational institutions.
“The NEP requires publicly funded universities to develop institutional development plans, including academic and infrastructure development plans. The government will make long-term financial commitments, not ad hoc grants. Unlike this here is a government violating the NEP guidelines The government has claimed that they will implement the policy by 2025. This is a misleading policy statement where the government has not done a thorough job and prepared a roadmap of policy requirements.
Kumar added that once universities become burdened with debt, they will become unsustainable, which will open the door for the government to hand over these institutions to the private sector.
Mahavir Jaglan, a retired geography professor from Kurukshetra University, said NewsClick that the decision contradicts the position of the government when it asks institutions to make money and provide subsidized education to social groups like the backward castes.
“State universities cannot generate revenue for themselves because they cater to all sections of society. Over the years, universities will have huge loans. So it’s a ploy to show that public universities are inefficient and should be outsourced to the private sector as they have done with public sector enterprises It is equally shocking to see that the bureaucrats who studied in these universities received a subsidized quality education and hold high office develop such policies.
Political parties have also expressed concern over this unprecedented decision. Commenting on the issue, Congress Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Khattar government had chosen to put education in debt.
“State universities should have gotten Rs 300 crore from the budget, but they chose to lend Rs 147 crore instead. The Khattar government is cheating the youth on all fronts.”
Inderjit Singh, former secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), said NewsClick that the move is intended for a self-financing model. Parents will be forced to pay the exorbitant fees.
“Kurukshetra University and Maharshi Dayanand University have increased their fees, and students have been objecting to them for the past two weeks. Schools have been asked not to enroll students in Class I in Primary Education Either they will be taught in Anganwadi centers or private schools, and it will also be phased for other classes, ultimately they want to get rid of their responsibility to provide education.
Asked about the impact on students coming from rural areas of the state, he said: “Rural households are deeply indebted, and spending on education and health care remain the two main drivers of this indebtedness in addition to l lack of income from farming. The cost of inputs have risen sharply in farming, but there is practically no income. Families take out loans to educate their children and provide health care to members. sick of the family.In this situation, this step of the state government is unjustifiable.