INDIA: Universities defy state on educational fund

Many universities in India are unhappy with the creation of a central fund to aid less well-endowed institutions. Maharashtra's wealthy institutions have refused to support a development corpus to help their poorer counterparts in the state. Pune University is one of the wealthier institutions to have told the state government it is not willing to part with even a penny from its coffers to help less well-off universities.

The newly proposed Chancellor's Fund which plans to pool the resources of all 19 universities in the state will be a centralised, state-managed corpus. The idea is to get the richer universities to subsidise the less fortunate ones. But Pune management council member Vasant Pawar said the university would not share its resources: "We have decided not to give a penny from our funds to the Chancellor's fund," Pawar said.

The university is clearly out to lock horns with the state government. But Dilip Walse Patil, Minister of state for Education said he had every intention of going ahead with the plan. "The agenda is equitable distribution from that fund for equal development for all universities," Patil said.

Many university teachers across the country, however, are opposing a similar move, saying this was another way for the government to exert control and interfere in the functioning of universities.
One vice chancellor, who asked not to be named, said, "The government wants to play the role of a benevolent king. If they are so keen to help lesser-endowed universities why do they not increase their funding?"

Planning Commission member and former vice-chancellor of Mumbai University, B Mungekar said, "While the idea of a fund is good, taking away the resources of one institution to give to another is not." Mungekar said he also feared the move could lead to "confiscation of funds."
The government has been proposing a Chancellor's Fund for a long time but has not been able to push legislation through parliament because of the opposition. Most universities keep their funding a closely guarded secret although it is usually made up of donations, ex- students' generosity and other projects that vice-chancellors can execute.