Vice-chancellors of various universities in the country have appealed to the Minister of Education, Science, and Technology Devendra Poudel for positive intervention to end political infiltration and interference in academic institutions.

They placed the request for the same in a discussion held in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology at Singha Durbar yesterday.

Vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Prof Dharmakanta Banskota, Mid- West University's vice-chancellor Dr Nanda Bahadur Singh, among others, briefed Minister Poudel about various political problems facing 11 universities.

They said that padlocking, picketing the offices of vice-chancellors and protest programmes were going on in some universities due to political influence. They bemoaned that such activities had affected teaching-learning activities.

Indiscipline on the part of teachers and university staff, organisations and unions affiliated to various political parties, have posed hurdles in the performance and service delivery of vice-chancellors.

The vice-chancellors sought legal and other interventions to help resolve such issues prevailing in the universities.

They also discussed about the work to be accomplished in the higher education sector.

Dr Banskota of Tribhuvan University, the country's oldest and biggest university, said that staffers and unions backed by political parties tend to press them to work as per their will.

"Politics is dominant in every faculty and campus Academic and administrative works have become problematic due to the meddling of unions," he said.

Similarly, Prof Yadav Prakash Lamichhane of Nepal Sanskrit University appealed to the minister to help address issues related to 1,365 bigha land owned by Nepal Sanskrit University in Dang district.

According to Prof Lamichhane, the university has not been able to utilise the land since it was seized by Maoists during the insurgency period and it is currently being used by third parties.

He requested the minister to address the issue by forming a high-level commission.

Minister Poudel assured the vice-chancellors there would be positive intervention of the government to resolve the problems facing universities. He viewed that the universities' leadership should have the capacity to convince the political leadership to reform the universities crippled by politics backed by various unions and employees' associations.

Minister Poudel also called for reform in higher education within the parameters of the existing laws and acts. He vowed that the ministry would facilitate in easing off disruptions and disturbances plaguing the universities.

He said the government would resolve the issues related to occupancy of the universities' land by landless squatters in a cordial manner.

Pledging that the government would do the needful to resolve this issue besetting universities by forming high-level commission, Minister Poudel said teachers should be recruited on the basis of merit rather than decisions taken under pressure.

He also urged the vice-chancellors to move ahead with proper action plan to reform higher education.

On November 23, Minister Poudel had unveiled his 31-point educational reform plan that included making the universities' education scientific and research-oriented.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.