A week after the state Higher and Technical Education department prescribed procedures and criteria for approving satellite centres from 2021-22 academic year, the department, on September 25, approved Goregaon-based Patkar-Varde college’s proposal to start a satellite campus in Sindhudurg district from the current academic year.

Patkar-Varde college received the government sanction to start two courses on a pilot basis at Pinguli village in Kudal.

University of Mumbai senate member Mandar Sawantdesai questioned the move to accept the proposal allegedly without abiding by the timeline and criteria prescribed by the department in its September 18 government notification. On Tuesday, he wrote to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and MU Vice-Chancellor Dr Suhas Pednekar in the matter.

To ensure better outreach of higher education in rural and tribal regions in Maharashtra, the state government had recently paved way to allow reputed urban higher education institutions and colleges to start satellite centres in such areas.

Applications for starting such centres from 2021-22 academic session were invited by September 30 and were to be scrutinised by a board of deans of the university concerned within a limited time period, the government notification said.
Colleges or institutions are required to submit the required documents by October 15 every year to the respective vice-chancellor for starting a centre.

In his letter, Sawantdesai stated, “As per Section 109 (5) of Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016, the state government is forbidden from entertaining any application on its own. That clearly implies that the state government can approve or disapprove a proposal of a satellite centre only when the university concerned completes the required scrutiny process and presents the report to the state government. The order issued by the state government, dated 25th September 2020, granting satellite centre on a pilot basis to only one institute is unjust, unfair, and clearly reflective of undue favouritism.”

When approached, Dr Gurunath Pandit, trustee of Chikitsak Samuha’s Patkar-Varde college told.

“According to us, there is no issue. We are a 116-year-old Trust without affiliation to any party. We feel it’s a noble cause to reach out to mofussil areas. Sindhudurg is a district that has maximum students passing class X with high marks, but the ratio for higher education is low. We cannot comment on the criteria considered by the government in granting us the sanction.”

Minister of Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant could not be reached for a comment despite repeated attempts.

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