Most state-funded universities of Gujarat are, for all practical purposes, rudderless. It is true that all of them have vice-chancellors — the top official in a university — but very few have fulltime registrars.
The vice-chancellor is undoubtedly the head of a university but it is the registrar who attends to the nitty-gritty of its daily functioning. Vice-chancellors change after their term is over but the registrar provides continuity to the administration of a university.
Unfortunately, this post, in most government-funded universities of the state, is occupied by deputy registrars, examination controllers or accounts officers functioning in temporary capacity or by people not sufficiently qualified for the job. This not only makes them ineffective but, in many cases, has led to unseemly litigation over their appointment. Take the case of Gujarat University, the largest university of the state. For more than five years, its chief accounts officer Minesh Shah was the in-charge registrar. He was replaced by Prof BV Patel who was appointed to the post after being shifted as ‘officer on special duty’ (OSD) for the university’s administration. But Patel found the politics that came with the post too taxing. He resigned and returned to his department to teach. Now Prof Arvind Bhandari, head of the Linguistics Department in the School of languages, is in-charge registrar of Gujarat University.
The situation in Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (MS University) is no better. Deputy registrar MM Beedkar was its officiating registrar and he was also looking after the university’s administration and establishment meeting sections. Now Prof Amit Dholakia, associate professor in political science, is in-charge registrar of the university.
In Bhavnagar University, the controller of examinations Kaushik Bhatt is the in-charge registrar. In Dharmasinh Desai University of Nadiad, Prof MR Bhavsar is the in-charge registrar. He is also the university’s controller of examinations. In Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University, deputy registrar DM Patel is the in-charge registrar.
Krantiguru Shyamji Krishna Verma Kachchh University in Kutch has Prof BS Patel as the in-charge registrar. Patel is the head of the department of education in the university.
In Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidhyanagar, deputy registrar Tushar Majmudar is the in-charge registrar.
Veer Narmad South Gujarat University and Saurastra University had full time registrars but their appointments ran into controversy. After several twists and turns, Saurashtra University’s registrar Gajendra Jani had to quit on the orders of the Gujarat high court. Currently, deputy registrar RG Parmar is the in-charge registrar of the university.
JR Mehta was appointed fulltime registrar of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University. However, some members of the university’s executive council have alleged that Mehta doesn’t possess the qualification necessary for appointment as registrar.
Talking about the registrar’s crucial role in the functioning of a university, former GU vice-chancellor K S Shastri said that the registrar is the custodian of the seal, records and property of a university. “He can sue and be sued for the university. He is the statutory officer of the university. If the post of registrar is vacant for a couple of months, an acting or in-charge registrar can be appointed. However, asking an in-charge registrar to run the university for a long time can have an impact on the functioning of the whole university,” he said.
Former V-C AU Patel talked about the stringent rules and eligibility criteria for candidates keen to be appointed as registrar.
“The eligibility criteria for full-time registrars are very stringent. The candidate should have a PhD and should be of the rank of professor. But the pay-scales of professors differ from those of registrars. The registrar’s pay-scales are not as high as that of professors but the registrar is responsible for the whole university,” Patel said.
He further said that this is why no PhD-degree holder is interested in becoming a registrar. This leaves universities with no choice but to appoint less qualified officers as in-charge registrars, Patel said.
Officials in the state education department also know about the importance of fulltime registrars for universities. Principal Secretary, state education department, Hasmukh Adhia said that the power to appoint registrars lies with the universities.
“The posts ought to be filled up by the universities themselves. However, if the universities communicate to the state government to appoint administrative officials as registrars, the government can help,” he said.