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Controversial Public Universities Bill back to Parliament

The controversial Public Universities Bill has been re-introduced in Parliament.

Parliament is expected to consider the bill at the second reading stage today.

Parliament in October suspended consideration of the controversial Public Universities Bill due to public outrage.

The Bill which seeks to harmonise the governance, operations and administration of Public Universities in the country has generated controversy and criticism from stakeholders in the education sector since its introduction.

While some contend that the Bill seeks to take away academic freedom and the autonomy of public universities, the Education Ministry has argued that it will harmonise the management of public universities.

Akatsi North MP, Peter Nortsu Kotoesaid the Education Committee recommended to government to pull the brake on the passage of the bill to allow further consultation.

“The Committee on Education looked at the Public Universities Bill and we have recommended that in view of the criticism and the number of petitions that we have received it will be better for government to hold on with the passing of the bill because there is a need for greater consultation.”

He said with barely two weeks for the House to break for campaign activities in connection with the December 7 polls, it will also be impossible for the bill to be considered by the 7th Parliament.

“It will not feature in the bills we will be looking at for this meeting of Parliament.

“I have already said on many occasions that that Bill was not necessary and it was going to stifle the freedom of the universities and academics so government should redraw it.

“So I have been on that position long ago so if it does not go through, the better for the government,” he added.

About the bill

According to framers of the Public Universities Bill, it seeks to harmonise the finances, administration and governance structure of public universities.

The Bill, when passed, will give the government power to appoint the majority of members of the University Council.

The Council then has the power to appoint and fire public university officials.

The Bill also gives the President the power to dissolve the university council which will now have the power to appoint a chancellor.

It also gives effect to the University Council to control the finances of the university and determine the allocation of funds.

In addition, there is a proposal to rename four public universities after various personalities.

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