A major obstacle in appointing Ombudsperson at higher education institutes, that the person has to be a retired judge not below the rank of the district judge, has been done away with by the University Grants Commission (UGC), paving the way for swift and commodious way for their appointment.
In its new draft regulation on grievance redressal, the Commission has laid down revamped criteria for the appointment of the Ombudsperson, widening the eligibility to the post to any retired Vice Chancellor, Registrar or faculty member, with an experience of at least 10 years.
The commission has posted the draft proposal online inviting recommendations from the general public, which they can submit till December 31 this year.
Speaking to IANS earlier, UGC Secretary Rajnish Jain had accepted receiving complaints from the education institutes related to their inability to appoint an ombudsperson.
Though he did not reveal the nature of complaints raised, it is apparent that a part of the blame lay with the commission for the non-appointment of ombudsperson, since it was the commission which was supposed to recommend three names for the position screened through a search committee to the institution.
As per the latest draft also, it is the commission which is tasked with the recommendation of names, but one can hope the task to be a little easier for it after the removal of criterion of district judge.
According to the UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations 2012, all higher education institutes are required to appoint an ombudsperson for redressing grievances of students. But a superficial survey reveals that none of the central universities, at least in Delhi, has this figure to arbitrate as an impartial authority, or if they have, they have been appointed against the eligibility criteria.
The 2012 regulations, as do the latest, issued last week, stipulate that the ombudsperson must not hold, or have held, any office of profit in the university where he or she is appointed.
However, in a clear violation of the regulation, Jawaharlal Nehru University has appointed as Ombudsman its own Rector and a professor at the university, who is charged with hearing grievances of only faculty members and not of students at that.
Although Delhi University and Jamia Milia Islamia, both central universities, have a grievance cell or committee, they too have no ombudsperson -- the authority provisioned for in the regulation to hear grievances of students after they have "availed of remedies available in such institutions for redress of grievance".
(Vishal Narayan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(With inputs from agencies.)