House panel endorses open university bill

Kathmandu, June 1

The Parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare today endorsed the Open University Bill-2015, paving the way for establishment of open universities in the country.

Ranju Kumari Jha, chairperson of the committee, said the bill will be tabled in the Parliament tomorrow for further discussion. “Since this is a new bill, most of the lawmakers were supportive of its provisions.”

Jha also informed that the bill was progressive and apolitical experts would be appointed to various posts in the open universities, ending the current practice of making political appointments.

Dr Ganesh Man Gurung, coordinator of the subcommittee under the Parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare said they avoided creating too many posts. “The bill has the provision of vice-chancellor and registrar in the university.

We did not think it necessary to create the post of rector as the VC would look after all academic activities,” he said, adding, “Education minister will be the chancellor while the VC and registrar will be appointed by a committee chaired by the chairperson of the University Grants Commission with education secretary and a female expert as its members.”

He also stated that the Service Commission, the sole body responsible for appointing professors and employees in the universities, has been scrapped. “Professors and other employees will be appointed by a Vacancy Fulfillment Committee on need basis,” he said, adding that the open universities would cater to students within the country but would gradually expand its reach beyond the national frontiers.

Earlier, the Non-Resident Nepalis Association had urged the parliamentarians to include at least six representatives from six continents in the Open University Senate but the bill has limited it to three NRN representatives, including a female.

“The bill has given priority to women members in the University Senate,” he said. Although endorsement of the bill was delayed, it is an achievement that it was endorsed today.

Dr Pramod Dhakal, chairperson, NRNA Open University of Nepal Initiative Task Force, and member of Open University Infrastructure Development Board Nepal expressed happiness at the endorsement of the bill.

“NRNA is happy to find the bill with provisions we had suggested,” Dhakal said, adding, “If the bill is approved by the Parliament too, Nepalis will be able to gain degrees through open universities.”

According to NRNA, establishment of open universities was proposed with a vision for an institutional solution to closing the existing knowledge and education gaps and in providing internationally-accredited degrees in Nepal.

“Our aim is to take higher education directly to the homes and communities so that people need not travel to the cities and other countries for higher studies.

We also aim to offer programs that can catalyse local economies by bringing appropriate knowledge and skills to the local communities,” said Dhakal.

NRNA Open University of Nepal Initiative Task Force has been working in coordination with Ministry of Education since 2011 for the establishment of open universities in Nepal.