In a bold departure from the University Grants Commission's (UGC) recent guidelines for discontinuing the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree, the West Bengal government has firmly asserted its refusal to adhere to the directive. The state's Education Minister, Bratya Basu, declared this decision less than 24 hours after the UGC issued a notification cautioning students against enrolling in MPhil degree courses, asserting they are no longer officially recognized.
Ministerial Defiance: State to Chart Its Own Course
Minister Basu stated unequivocally, "The state education department will not be accepting this new directive imposed by the UGC. The state will follow its own independent education policy. We first need to have a clear idea on the matter. The central bodies cannot impose anything on the state. We will follow our own guidelines as suggested by our experts."
This decision intensifies the existing tension in West Bengal's education sector, already mired in a protracted conflict between the state education department and the Governor's house concerning the appointments and removals of interim vice-chancellors in various state universities.
Legal Impasse: State's Options Limited
Legal experts opine that, despite the state's defiant stance, it may have limited legal options in the long run. They argue that in matters related to education, falling under the concurrent list, the state government cannot make decisions conflicting with the Central Act. "If any State Act or amendment in the Act has a factor of tussle with a Central Act in a matter related to any concurrent list subject, the clause of the Central Act will be supreme in the matter," legal sources explain.
The UGC's directive to discontinue MPhil programs comes after the commission earlier instructed all higher educational institutions to cease offering MPhil programs—a directive some universities were disregarding.
(Inputs from IANS)