Rajarshi University Act under flak over transfer of TU assets, accreditation

Published On: November 15, 2017 06:35 AM NPT By: Bishnu Prasad Aryal

KATHMANDU, Nov 15:  Tribhuvan University (TU) is not happy over the bringing of the Rajarshi Janak University (RJU) Act that has drawn flak from stakeholders over the issues of accreditation and acquisition of property belonging to TU.

RJU is the only university established in Province 2. The RJU bill was endorsed by parliament on October 18 and authenticated by President Bidya Devi Bhandari  on October 29. The Act, which provisions an autonomous authority to issue accreditation to academic certificates acquired from foreign universities and acquire properties belonging to TU, has been criticized for repeating the same mistakes made with other universities. 

Among the 11 universities in Nepal, the enabling acts for Madhya Paschim University, Sudur Paschim University, Agriculture and Forestry University and RJU provision for the acquisition of properties from TU. The 11 universities in the country, besides the above  four, include TU, Kathmandu University, Nepal Sanskrit University, Pokhara University, Purbanchal University, Lumbini-Bauddha University and the Open University . 

The four university acts provision acquiring constituent campuses under TU and its properties, teachers, staff and students, according to  sources. TU property can be transferred to the newly established universities only after TU approves the transfer at a senate meeting. However, the TU senate has not decided anything about this yet, according to TU, which is the oldest and biggest university in the country.

“The government and parliament can do anything here,” said  Vice-Chancellor of TU Prof Dr Tirtha Raj Khaniya. “It is  meaningless to hold senate meetings,” said VC Khaniya. “They can do whatever they like and we have to follow along just like with the law,” he said in an irate mood. “We are holding discussions to decide whether to go to court or not.”

The newly endorsed RJU Act has a provision on acquiring TU's constituent campuses- Ramsworup Campus of Janakpur, Surya Narayan-Satya Narayan Yadav Multiple Campus of Siraha and Mahendra Bindeshwori Multiple Campus of Rajbiraj --along with their properties. The Act also provisions acquiring students, teachers and staff  from the other universities if the campuses are interested, issuing affiliation to private sector institutions, and granting accreditation or equivalency to international academic certificates.

Education expert Prof Dr Biddhya Nath Koirala said that the major controversy over the Act concerns acquiring properties from TU. “It's not rational,” said Prof Koirala. “So far as equivalency and affiliation are concerned, any university can provide these for their own academic purposes, at their own risk and as per international rules. But they should maintain quality. Other universities are not obliged to accept such decisions,” he added.

“Accreditation to international academic certificates should be granted by  the University Grants Commission (UGC), an apex university body, which has not been discharging its duty properly.”

Only TU has been given authority by the UGC  to grant accreditation to international academic certificates, according to VC Khaniya. “The authority given to RJU will create anarchy and chaos regarding the quality of education,” he claimed.

Surya Prasad Gautam, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Education, said that he has not studied the RJU Act thoroughly, though the ministry had drafted it. “I heard that the Act contains the controversial wording about acquiring land from TU,” he said. “This problem has been repeated in the acts concerning the four universities. These universities are still in dispute with TU.”

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