Most universities in India are caught in an administrative mess. Some of them are sick needing urgent treatment. Some have become so unwieldy, they cannot manage their affairs with any semblance of efficiency. Some require bifurcation or even trifurcation. Until administrative changes are brought in, our universities may just continue to drift rudderless with no one to show the right direction. What they need are managers to professionally govern them.
Vice Chancellors are caught by group politics. They feel very lonely. The situation around them is frustrating. Naturally they are obliged to lean on some group for moral and technical support.. Moreover, they do not feel free to take independent decisions lest they encroach upon someone’s domain and fall from favour of politicians who pitch forked them to their coveted position.
The Registrars of universities whose status is equivalent to that of Professors generally do not have strong administrative background with the result that they tend to flounder and become slaves of the slow-moving administrative system. No wonder, they become victims of vested interests and the inbuilt efficiency limitations.
The university’s administrative staff is, with honorable exceptions, habituated in keeping matters pending for one reason or another. The various departments and sections dealing with matters like college affiliations, recognition of teachers and principals, college development council, university finance, registration of students for research degrees, statutory bodies like boards of studies, academic council, senate, and most importantly the examination section, hardly work in proper coordination with each other.
The end result is: examinations are not held in time, the announcements of results get unduly delayed, leakage of question papers and malpractices in awarding marks become common occurrences, and convocations often get delayed disturbing the annual time table.. Postponement of decision making, often due to delay in processing, leads to various positions in senate, academic council, management council, boards of studies etc, remaining unfilled. Lack of advance planning aggravated by internal politics leaves many issues unsettled creating an atmosphere of seething discontent among students, teachers, parents and the public at large. The image of the university gets tarred irretrievably. It badly hurts the pride of the alumni who remember with nostalgia and gratitude the past glory of their alma mater.
The whole university administrative system presently appears to have deteriorated so much that mild palliatives will not work any more. A major reform by way of redistribution of powers can alone rescue the system from the chronic malaise.
What the university administration needs is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with wide powers to implement the policy decisions of the Management Council backed by the orders of the Vice Chancellor and supported for implementation purposes by management degree holders at the middle and lower levels of the administrative hierarchy.
It is time that academic bodies of the universities sit down to discuss the situation and evolve new courses, on the lines of hospital management courses, to train managers for efficient functioning of our universities. Serious urgent thinking followed by action is the need of the time.