On February 10, 2020, a grand celebration was held to celebrate an ‘in principle’ approval for the establishment of a Mizoram University extension in Lunglei, a district headquarter in southern Mizoram. Higher and Technical Education Minister, Dr. H Lalthangliana was the Chief Guest at the program. Two and a half years later, any word or sight of the University is yet to be seen.

To worsen matters, Mizoram government leaders were at a loss for words when a few weeks back, they came to know that the Central Ministry expects the state to self-finance the proposed University extension.

As per the terms laid out by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, the land for the new campus is required to be provided by the State Government free of cost and necessary funds for creation of infrastructure are to be arranged by the University under Window III of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) Scheme. HEFA is a joint venture of MHRD Government of India and Canara Bank for financing creation of capital assets in premier educational institutions in India.

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“We made an agreement with the Central government on the condition that we will have to provide the land free from all encumbrances. We have made arrangements to use the Pukpui Engineering College structure constructed with a 26 crore budget to be used as the college building for the meantime. It has an academic block and an administrative block. We will make arrangements for the water, electricity and link road construction. But, in the meantime, there is news from the central ministry that we should be self-financing,” Dr. Vanlaltanpuia, a legislative member who holds the portfolio of Mizoram Youth Commission Chairman and Higher and Technical Education Board Vice Chairman told EastMojo.

Taking quick stock of the situation, Dr. Vanlaltanpuia made a trip to Delhi in the last week of July to raise the issue with Central ministry leaders. He met the Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan in his Office at Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi informing him that the state has been looking forward to the MZU South Campus. He further informed him that while the state has received the approval in principle from the Ministry and taken necessary initiatives to prepare the land required for it, the Ministry had issued a letter saying the University should be self-financing but such was not possible for a poor state like Mizoram.

The MLA said while MZU as a Central University is being supported by the Central ministry, it is unusual that the South Campus should be expected to self-finance.

“I met Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State and RK Ranjan Singh, Union Minister of State for External Affairs. I was assisted by the Rajya Sabha MP. We explained to him that the Central University is going to be extended in the South campus and there will be a lot of contradictions if the south campus has to be self financed. They said they will take the matter seriously and enquire which other Universities have an extension. All correspondence is taken care of by the university, not the state government. We are intervening on political leverage. The technical correspondences are addressed to Mizoram University. The Chief Minister and Health Minister have written a Demi Official letter to the Central Ministry,” said the MYC Chairman.

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EastMojo reached out for comments to Professor Jagadish K Patnaik, the Pro Vice Chancellor of Mizoram University on the University’s correspondence and response to the Central Ministry’s notification.

“We have to take an official decision regarding that; there will be a meeting of stakeholders. At the moment, it is not confirmed yet what steps we will take.”

Word of the proposed extended University has been making the rounds. Questions on the same were raised at the state assembly session in February 2021 to Dr. Lalthangliana. He responded saying, the Southern campus of Mizoram University would begin from the July session of that year and that the classes for the southern campus will commence once approval is received from the Union ministry of human resource development.

Dr. Vanlaltanpuia explained how the University extension could be useful for the state economy, “This was really unexpected, we are having a great expectation or hope that this is going to be funded by the central ministry. This could create a lot of job opportunities, and our economy will be enhanced. It is evident from the fact that Mizoram University in Tanhril has really boosted our economic activity. Even NEHU has an extension in Tura that is looked after by an Assistant Registrar. It has a center in Kohima. Before, even Aizawl was an extended campus of NEHU. We can start the classes temporarily. But our state is not in the capacity to self finance. The University and the state government can never afford it.”

“Even ASEAN meetings suggested we should have good institutions which can be shared together by the ASEAN countries. And with Mizoram being in the frontier, if there is a good institution, it would be convenient to access by countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and other neighboring countries.”

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