Kathmandu, November 8
Despite the authentication of the Open University Act more than three months ago, the government is yet to begin executing various activities to run the university.
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had authenticated the Open University Act-2016 on July 14 with a maturity period of 91 days.
The Act was envisioned to provide quality education to Nepali students within the country and abroad who cannot attend traditional universities regularly. The Act has a legal provision of selecting a vice chancellor and registrar within 91 days of authentication. However, no steps have been taken so far.
The Non-Resident Nepalis Association has been strongly lobbying for establishment of an open university in the country for the past two decades. The association has assured the government of technical and financial support for establishing the university.
Dr Pramod Dhakal, chairperson of the NRNA Open University of Nepal Initiative Task Force, said, “The maturity period of 91 days has passed, but the government is yet to take steps on building a headquarters for the Open University or appointing varsity officials.”
Since the drafting of the Act, the NRNA has been lobbying for the appointment of apolitical academic experts as the VC and registrar.
Dr Dhakal further accused the government of neither preparing a comprehensive business plan to operate the open university nor giving the authority to do so to the NRNA.
As per the Act, the Open University Infrastructure Development Board Nepal established to look after the Open University is defunct after the maturity of the Act.
The Open University Act does not have the provision of establishing a service commission as in other universities to appoint professors, staff, and other necessary human resources. It has stated that a separate vacancy fulfillment committee will be formed on need basis to hire teaching and non-teaching staff.
The Act has the provision of the incumbent Education Minister remaining as Chancellor of the Open University while the VC and the registrar is appointed by a committee chaired by the chairperson of the University Grants Commission, with an education secretary and one expert who is female as its members.
Prof Dr Parasar Prasad Koirala, chairperson of the UGC said, “The education minister should have formed the committee by the 91th day of the authentication of the Act to appoint a VC, but he has not yet informed me about it.”
Prof Dr Koirala said that the VC appointment committee should be formed at the earliest to appoint VC and initiate other works.
However, the Ministry of Education has been stating that they have already started internal preparation for the appointment of the officials, and other works of the varsity.
Education Minister Dhani Ram Poudel said, “We are doing internal homework for the appointment of officials as well as other works of the open university,” adding, “We will take the decisions soon.”
A version of this article appears in print on November 09, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.