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UGC to review status of deemed universities

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Live Mint | Tue, January 05 2016  |  Prashant K. Nanda |

The move comes two months after UGC asked 10 deemed universities including BITS Pilani to shut their off-campus centre.

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) is set to review the deemed university status enjoyed by 125 educational institutions in India, a move that could spark another face-off after a previous attempt in 2009. The human resource development (HRD) ministry has given the go-ahead to UGC to review the status for all deemed universities, including reputed institutions such as BITS Pilani, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), at least two government officials said, requesting anonymity. Deemed universities have greater freedom in setting syllabi, admitting students and charging fees than regular ones.  Among other recommendations, the P.N. Tandon committee in 2009 suggested blacklisting 44 deemed universities, saying they lacked required quality. Renowned educationists such as Goverdhan Mehta, M. Anandakrishnan, Mrinal Miri and then HRD ministry joint secretary Sunil Kumar were part of the panel. When the ministry indicated its willingness to accept the recommendations, deemed universities went to court, and the matter is still sub-judice.

“Since the deemed universities are still functioning and admitting students, it is essential that they are reviewed by the regulator,” said the first of the two officials cited earlier. According to the second official, UGC initially asked the ministry if it should review just C-category deemed universities (which the Tandon committee had advised for blacklisting), but the government told it to review all 125 institutions. The move comes two months after UGC asked 10 deemed universities including BITS Pilani to shut their off-campus centres. The regulator had said these centres were set up without following rules. BITS Pilani secured a stay on the UGC directive from the Supreme Court, and others have written to UGC to explain their positions. “Off-campus closure issue is different and the review should be viewed from the angle that all need to adhere to the deemed university rules, maintain quality worthy of a university. The review will take into account all aspects—from its physical infrastructure to intellectual infrastructure like research, patent, quality of faculty, etc.,” the second official said. The officials said some of the deemed universities are yet to measure up to the expectations. If found wanting, these institutes can face several penalties, ranging from suspension of admission to fines.

Prashant Bhalla, chancellor of the Manav Rachna International University, a deemed university in Haryana, said he does not understand the logic of a fresh survey when the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has already graded these institutes. NAAC is the official accrediting body for universities and colleges. “In the last few months, NAAC completed the accreditation process and graded them and a fresh round of review by UGC may lead to confusion,” he said, adding his university was graded A. The government should promote more private participation for the sake of education, and viewing private firms with suspicion will not help, said Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternate president, Education Promotion Society of India, a private education providers’ body, adding, “Quality check is welcome, but there should be a mechanism to reduce unwanted hassles.” India has 740-odd universities, of which 125 are deemed universities and the rest are central universities, state private universities and state public universities. Deemed universities are created by an executive order and the rest by an Act of either Parliament or state legislatures. – Courtesy


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