On March 31, the Gujarat Assembly unanimously passed the Gujarat Private Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the eighth such amendment, paving the way for the establishment of eleven new private universities. This is the first time that such a large number of private universities established by corporations, religious organizations, and social trusts have received approval in one go.
This brings the state’s total number of private institutions to 54.
What is the act’s purpose?
- When Narendra Modi was chief minister, the Gujarat Private Institutions Act 2009 was announced, with the state establishing 18 private universities.
- It also brought in corporate-backed institutions throughout time, including The Nirma University, formerly the Nirma Institute of Technology, which is owned by the Nirma Group, PP Savani University in Surat, and Ganpat University in Mehsana, which is owned by businessman Ganpatbhai Patel.
- However, the Act has been changed seven times since 2009, either to allow new private institutions or to modify the name or ownership of existing private universities.
- People in the state of Gujarat wanted Calorx Teachers’ University to be called Sabarmati University in 2019. They asked the government to change the schedule of the Gujarat Private Universities Act, 2009.
The newly established universities
- Two are corporate universities—Adani University by Adani Institute for Education and Research (AIER) and Transstadia University by Transstadia Education and Research Foundation, both in Ahmedabad—which were incorporated under the Companies Act in 2014 and 2019.
- Priti Adani, a trustee of AIER and the wife of company chairman Gautam Adani, is the president of Adani University, which is based in Shantigram. Transstadia University is an initiative of the Transstadia Education and Research Foundation, a subsidiary of SE TransStadia Pvt Ltd, created by businessman Udit Sheth, who constructed what is said to be India’s first convertible stadium in Maninagar, Ahmedabad, opposite the Kankaria lakefront.
- When Shree Swaminarayan Vishvamangal Gurukul opens the Swaminarayan University in Gandhinagar, it will be the first time that the Swaminarayan sect has been seen for the first time.
The other universities are as follows:
- The University of Gandhinagar
- Junagadh’s Dr. Subhash University
- Patan’s M K University
- Surat’s Vidyadeep University
- Gandhinagar’s SKIPS University
- Maganbhai Adenwala of Mahagujarat University in Nadiad, Kheda Maganbhai Adenwala of Mahagujarat University in Nadiad, Kheda
- Bhavnagar’s Lokbharati University for Rural Innovation
- Junagadh’s Noble University
What was the opposition’s response?
While Congress supported the bill’s passage, it objected to the “growing privatization” of the education sector, which would result in no government supervision over institutions’ fee and admittance policies, which would be determined solely by these universities.
During Bill’s discussion, Education Minister Jitu Vaghani told the House that 11 of a total of 19 applications had been granted. While the bulk of applications was received in 2021, few were received this year, including in January and February.
The government sped through the process of submitting a proposal, presenting it to the scrutiny committee, having the committee look at it, and getting it approved, raising a lot of eyebrows even inside the government.
Private Universities Act: Section 10 says that if the state government likes the sponsoring body’s compliance with the Letter of Intent (LOI), the latter is obligated to make the necessary changes in the law so that the university’s name can be added to a list of universities in the Act.
The state government used Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Chicago, Yale, and Pennsylvania to back up its decision to let these private universities open. Manipal Academy of Higher Education and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham or Amrita University in Coimbatore also made the list.
Additionally, he said, the development of these colleges will eliminate the need for pupils from these regions to travel beyond their districts.