The Economic Times | By Anubhuti Vishnoi, ET Bureau | 16 November, 2015 |
NEW DELHI: India’s higher education regulator has directed ten institutions, including some premier ones such as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Homi Bhabha National Institute, to immediately shut down their off-campus centres, saying these are “unauthorised” and have been set up against the rules. University Grants Commission (UGC) Deputy Secretary Sunita Siwach on November 9 shot off notices to these ten institutions, pointing out that the off-campus centres set up by them have been established in violation of clause 6 of the UGC guidelines and Article 12(5) of the Deemed University regulations of 2010. The regulator gave the institutions a month to submit an action taken report. Prof RB Grover, vice-chancellor of Homi Bhabha National Institute, expressed surprise at UGC’s move. “We have not yet received the communication but we are quite taken aback at this. This has to be some misunderstanding and we would like a dialogue with them on the matter,” he said. “It is quite surprising as UGC as per its own gazette notification has approved HBNI as a deemed university with all its ten constituents. If there are some recent changes, then they must give us sufficient time to meet new requirements. Asking us to close these down will be very perturbing,” said Grover. UGC Chairman Prof Ved Prakash could not be reached for comment despite several attempts. The others put on notice by the UGC include Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies ( NMIMS) University, Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, and Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra.
The list also includes Indian School of Mines Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science and Technology (PRIST), Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Uttar Pradesh and the youth affairs ministry sponsored The Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education (LNIPE) in Gwalior. “We have received such a letter from UGC and we are quite surprised,” said RK Singh, director, IVRI. “We are writing back to them to inform that these centres were with IVRI even before we were recognised as a deemed to be university by UGC. And these are anyway research centres. We do follow all UGC regulations and we are writing back on this issue with our views,” he said. The UGC said in its notice that the off-campus centres have been established by these deemed universities “without prior approval of the ministry of human resource and development” and failing closure, “necessary action” will be taken.
The notice said the new centre of TIFR in Hyderbabad is unauthorised, as is Homi Bhabha National Institute’s Bhubaneswar centre; NIMIS’ Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Shibpur centres; and PRIST’s campus in Chennai, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Puducherry and Trichy. The UGC also raised the red flag against IVRI’s centres in Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mukteshwar, Palampur and Pune, along with LNIPE’s Guwahati campus. Six of BIT Ranchi’s centres in Allahabad, Deoghar, Kolkata, Lalpur, Noida and Patna, BITS Pilani’s Goa and Hyderabad centres, besides ISM Dhanbad’s centre in Kolkata and Bansathali University’s Rajasthan campus, have also been termed unauthorised. Prof DC Panigrahi, director of ISM Dhanbad, said that the Kolkata centre is not really an off-campus centre but an industry-institute collaboration centre without any faculty or laboratory facilities. Such a notice can hardly apply to the Kolkata centre, he said. Prof VS Rao, vice-chancellor of BITS Pilani said although the institution was yet to receive the communication, it has been applying for recognition of its off-campus centres since 2010, but no progress has been made in the past five years. Prof Amol Dighe, dean of graduate studies at TIFR, said the institute had not yet received the UGC letter. As per a 2009 review of deemed universities conducted by a committee of the human resources development ministry, all these universities are top rated, except PRIST, which was found deficient and even recommended for withdrawal of the status.
ET View: No Off-Campus Until Quality Check
The UGC is correct in asking these institutes to shut down their offcampus centres. That these institutions are ‘prestigious’ can’t be a reason for not implementing the 2010 regulations. The UGC can consider going by a strict interpretation of the regulations, as it is doing. Another option is to amend them to create a new class of deemed universities. It could also exempt deemed universities which set up centres prior to the 2010 regulation and meet the quality norms. Whatever the decision, the UGC must be transparent. – Courtesy