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Major blow to Deemed Universities: SC stays engineering admission without AICTE approval

Tech stay on deemed varsities  | The Telegraph | Basant Kumar Mohanty | Mar 26, 2018 |

Deemed Universities will now have to seek approval for continuing or commencing engineering courses.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has imposed an interim stay on engineering admissions at deemed universities that lack the regulator’s approval for these courses, hanging a cloud over 30 such institutions months before the new academic session starts. The technical education regulator, All India Council of Technical Education, had approached the apex court asking that the petitions moved by deemed universities in various high courts challenging its approval rules be transferred to Delhi High Court. These rules require all deemed universities to seek the council’s approval for their engineering courses. The apex court on Friday issued notices to these institutions on the matter of transferring their high court petitions. “In the meanwhile, there will be stay of admission without approval of the AICTE,” the bench of Justices A.K. Goel, R.F. Nariman and U.U. Lalit said on Friday. The next hearing is on May 11.

Last November, the apex court had ruled that deemed universities that had obtained the tag by virtue of their excellence in a particular field would need the regulator’s approval to offer courses in new areas. The council then introduced a provision in its Approval Process Handbook 2018-19, saying “institutions deemed to be universities and private universities seeking approval for the first time from AICTE shall submit an application as a new technical institution for all their existing technical courses”. Some of the affected institutions then approached high courts pleading that engineering was the core expertise that had earned them the “deemed university” status, so they should not need to seek the regulator’s approval. They received interim protection and did not apply to the council for approval. Lawyer Ravi Bhardwaj said Friday’s interim stay would apply to all the deemed universities that had failed to apply for approval before the last date, February 5.

Council chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said nearly 50 deemed universities had applied for approval. Of the 123 deemed universities, about 80 offer technology courses. Among the institutions that have challenged the regulator’s norms are the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Vellore Institute of Technology and the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. Friday’s ruling has hung a cloud also over the MTech course offered by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, a deemed university that two council sources said had probably not applied for approval. Sahasrabudhe, however, said the UGC, the higher education regulator, had last month allowed institutions with accreditation scores above 3.25 to offer new courses without approval. The IISc qualifies by this criterion, and where the commission grants an exemption, the council is expected to follow suit. – Courtesy

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Off-campus colleges of of deemed universities face heat from AICTE

The Times of India | Pushpa Narayan | TNN |  Feb 5, 2018 |   Off-campus colleges face heat from AICTE |


CHENNAI: Off-campus units of deemed universities, 1.5km or farther from the institution’s main campus, are staring at trouble, with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) mandating that they register separately to engineering courses under a new set of new guidelines the council issued last week.  On January 26, the council released 10 guidelines based on its Approval Process Handbook 2018-19 and a November 2017 Supreme Court order, which said all deemed universities should apply as new institutes for approval of all courses in engineering and technology, pharmacy, architecture, applied arts and crafts, management and MCA. “Universities running their programs or courses from multiple locations… in the same city or different cities should apply separately for all their campuses (multiple locations) AICTE approval,” it said.

This has triggered debate among administrators, educationalists and policymakers, as some universities run more than one unit that the Union HRD ministry has not notified as an off-campus facility. The apex court order said all institutions offering technical education would function under AICTE, but UGC would retain the power to grant institutions university status.  AICTE officials said they had started the exercise because deemed universities did not share information on their campus, seat or student numbers or graduate and placement data. “AICTE will only check if the facilities available are [proportionate to the number of students and courses] based on standard quality norms,” said AICTE chairman Anil Shastrabudhe. “UGC permits [off-campus colleges, so] if the universities have colleges, there [should be] no problem. We want to ensure that they have [adequate] facilities.” The Supreme Court said deemed universities offering technical and engineering courses must come under AICTE,” said Rabu Manohar, a senior counsel of the Centre. “Most of these universities never had AICTE approval for engineering courses. It’s time for them to fall in line under AICTE or they will be in contempt of the apex court.”Academicians disagree. They ask: Will these campuses register under a deemed university? If so, will AICTE step in the shoes of the UGC? Some senior academicians like former Anna University vice-chancellor M Ananthakrishnan want more drastic action.  “Off-campus campuses are illegal; the authorities should close them,” he said. “We need a uniform law and better enforcement.”- Courtesy

The Madras High Court directive to AICTE on approval for deemed-to-be universities

Outlook | 29 January 2018  | Chennai |

Chennai, Jan 29 : The Madras High Court today directed the technical education regulator AICTE not to take any punitive action against certain deemed-to-be universities in Tamil Nadu which have not responded to its notice seeking applications for approval of courses for 2018-19. Justice R Mahadevan passed the interim order effective for two weeks when a batch of petitions, including those from the Vellore Institute of Technology and Veltech Deemed University, came up for hearing. The petitioners prayed the court to declare as unconstitutional and ultra vires of the University Grants Commission Act the public notice issued by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) last year and as inapplicable to them. They contended that they were governed by the UGC and AICTE had no power to ask them to seek approval as new institutions.

VIT’s counsel submitted that the AICTE vide its notice has invited applications for approval from all the existing and proposed technical institutions for conducting technical programmes/courses, including course of management for 2018-19 academic year. The last date for submitting applications by new institutions was January 31. The notice stated that deemed-to-be universities seeking approval for the first time from the AICTE (in compliance with a Supreme Court order of November 3, 2017) should submit an application as a new technical institution. The counsel contended that the apex court order was applicable only to institutions offering technical course degrees awarded by the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode and not the deemed-to-be universities. Veltech Deemed University submitted that after being declared a deemed-to-be university, it was functioning under the guidelines of the UGC which along with the Human Resources Development Ministry was monitoring its activities. Hence, the AICTE has no power to seek its approval by the petitioner university as a new one, counsel for the university argued. – Courtesy

UGC cuts short names of these deemed universities after Supreme Court mandate

Financial Express | FE Online | New Delhi | January 14, 2018 |

Even before some of the universities getting the university status had begun to call themselves universities on their own.

In November last year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) was asked by the Supreme Court of India to stop using the word ‘university’ in the names of deemed universities. After that the government has compiled names of the varsities this week, however, names of the 10 such institutes have weird sounding names. For example, Santosh University’s name in Ghaziabad has been cropped to “Santosh”. And from now on, Dehradun’s Graphic Era University will be called “Graphic Era”. Symbiosis International University from Pune will be known as “Symbiosis International”. Christ University from Bengaluru has been changed to only “Christ”, and Jain University will be known as “Jain”. On Friday, the HRD Ministry These institutions are among 14 deemed-to-be universities that were intimated of their new names by the HRD Ministry on Friday. Following the Supreme Court verdict, back in November last year, the UGC had issued a warning to 123 deemed-to-be universities. The warning called for strong action if they dropped the word ‘university’ from their names. Even before some of the universities getting the university status had begun to call themselves universities on their own. However, the government was to be at fault in naming 14 of such institutions. The notification issued by the HRD Ministry announced their deemed status referred to them as universities.

In order to rectify their mistakes, the UGC ordered these institutions to go for alternative names which do not have the word ‘university’. After the issuance of the suggestion by the UGC, names of four were accepted. The HRD Ministry on Friday informed the 14 institutions of their new names. The four deemed universities whose suggested alternative names found favour with the government are: Manav Rachna International University will now be known as Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies. Lingaya’s University will be known as Lingaya’s Vidyapeeth. Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeswara University in Mysuru will now be known as JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research and Gurukul Kangri Vishwavidyalaya in Haridwar will be known as Gurukul Kangri Vidyapeeth. – Courtesy

Centre gives nod for India’s first National Rail and Transportation University (NRTU) at Vadodara

Digital Learning | |

The Union Cabinet has approved to set up the first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara. The university, an initiative of Ministry of Railways, will be established as a Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016, a statement by union government said. The initiative will help the ministry to skill its human resources and build capability. According to the statement from the Central Government, it will be a catalyst for transformation of rail and transport sector towards New India, said the statement. The university is likely to launch its first programme in July 2018 as the Government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018. Under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, the Ministry of Railways will create a not-for-profit company to manage the proposed university. Along with providing financial and infrastructural support to the university, the company will also appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university. Board of Management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.

The proposed university will function at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara, Gujarat. Academy’s existing infrastructure and land will be utilised, and suitably modified and modernized for the purpose of the university. The university is expected to have 3000 full time students. The funding of the new University/Institute is to entirely come from Ministry of Railways. “This university will set Indian Railways on the path of modernisation and help India become a global leader in transport sector by enhancing productivity and promoting ‘Make in India’,” the statement said. “It will support ‘Startup India’ and ‘Skill India’ by channeling technology and delivering knowhow, and foster entrepreneurship, generating large scale employment opportunities. This will lead to transformation of railway and transportation sector and enable faster movement of people and goods. Through global partnerships and accessing cutting edge technologies, India will emerge as a global centre of expertise,” added the statement. – Courtesy

Breathe life into deemed universities

The New Indian Express | S Vaidhyasubramaniam  |  12th December 2017  | Opinion |

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My phone finally stopped ringing after a series of calls from my students and well-wishers.  Everybody had one question: “Since the Supreme Court has disallowed deemed universities from using the word ‘university’, what will be the validity of the degrees issued so far and what is the course of action?” I told everybody that the past, present and future degrees are valid as per Section 22 of the The University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (UGC Act) and the course of action would be based on a recall of the past and understanding of the present. Let us begin with the past. The First Education Commission report of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1948-49) devoted a chapter on the genesis of deemed universities. The report recommended that the government evolve a method of creating university charters similar to many countries, where universities are set up not through acts of legislature but through charters granted by the head of the state. Thus was born the concept of deemed university under Section 3 of the UGC Act. As recommended by the commission, the National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill which unfortunately got derailed, aimed for a permanent parliamentary solution to the deemed university nomenclature. The need to fix this was born out of a legitimate concern from global peers who constantly wanted to know “when will deemed universities become universities?” not knowing that they are universities for all practical purposes.

This deemed university conundrum was discussed by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Prem Chand Jain vs R K Chabra, (1984) in which the court left it to the Centre to interpret or amend, if necessary Section 23 of the UGC Act. Empowered by this order, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) directed the UGC to form a committee comprising the MHRD Secretary and Chairmen of UGC and AICTE. This committee recommended that since deemed universities are public universities established by an executive charter, they can use the word ‘university.’ Based on this, the UGC during September 2006 allowed deemed universities to use the word university. What appeared to be a settled case, assumed gargantuan proportions in the November 3 order of the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corp. Ltd. Vs Sri Rabi Sankar Patro resulting in the on-going melee. This case was a service matter issue arising out of the validity of engineering degrees offered in distance education mode by only four deemed universities in India. None of the other 120 plus deemed universities were before the SC as the larger issue was not about the deeming fiction which is a subject matter of another batch of cases pending before the apex court. The court was also not made fully aware of the conscious permission of the UGC to use the word ‘university’ pursuant to the liberty granted by the Supreme Court in Prem Chand Jain’s case. Also, the Supreme Court attempted to distinguish the present case from the Bharathidasan University case (2001) delivered by a coordinating bench.

In an attempt to bring clarity to the issue, some deemed universities and associations approached the SC with modification and impleading applications on various grounds including the fact that the interpreter of law allows the interpreter to inquire not into the subjective intent of the author, but rather the intent the author would have had, had he or she acted reasonably. This spirit of purposive construction highlighted by Aharon Barak in Purposive Interpretation in Law, (2007) was appreciated by the Supreme Court in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs Nusli Neville Wadia, (2008). The Supreme Court also appreciated the principles of Casus Omissus in UCO Bank vs Rajinder Lal Capoor (2008) which as per G P Singh’s Interpretation of Statutes, is an application of the general principle that a matter which should have been, but has not been provided for in a statute cannot be supplied by courts, as doing so will be legislation and not construction. But all of these arguments advanced before the SC went in vain and the applications were dismissed making the November 3 order—which includes formation of a committee to frame new monitoring mechanism and regulations for deemed universities—effective without any modification. Under these circumstances, the following options in the interest of progressive policy making lie before the Centre and its statutory agencies such as UGC, AICTE, etc.

Action 1: As observed by the SC obiter dicta, the UGC Act of 1956 needs amendment to Section 23 to include deemed universities declared under Section 3 of the UGC Act to also use the word ‘university.’
Action 2: Approval from AICTE for engineering courses made mandatory only for those institutions that were not offering any technical education on the date of conferment of deemed university. This was distinguished by the SC in the present case and the AICTE Act rightly doesn’t include deemed universities in its definition of an institution. This was upheld by a coordinating bench of the Supreme Court in the Bharathidasan University case. A subordinate regulation to rope in all deemed universities not only needs an amendment of the AICTE Act but will also be a retrograde measure.

Action 3: The new committee must be guided by the proposed UGC Deemed Universities Graded Autonomy Regulations that is to be notified anytime soon. This is inherently designed to identify and encourage good performers and to take action against erring ones and aligns well the apex court’s recent directive to UGC.

Final recommendation: Amend to oxygenate and not mend to strangulate. – Courtesy

HRD ministry sets up committee to suggest ways to regulate deemed universities

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey |  New DelhiDec 05, 2017 |

The panel will suggest a regulatory road map for deemed universities and is expected to submit its report to the government within four months.

The Union human resource development (HRD) ministry on Monday set up a three-member committee in line with a Supreme Court order to examine the working of deemed universities and suggest an “oversight” and “regulatory mechanism” for these institutions within four months. The Supreme Court last month cancelled the degrees awarded by four of them as they were conducting distance education programmes in technical education without necessary approval. It asked the government to set up a panel of eminent persons who have held high positions in the field of education, investigation, administration or law at national level within one month, to examine issues related to distance education, deemed universities and suggest a regulatory mechanism for them. The committee is headed by former chief justice of Patna high court L Narasimhan Reddy. Sukhbir Singh Sandhu , additional secretary in the HRD Ministry and Anil Sahasrabuddhe , chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) are the other two members.

JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan, Advanced Studies in Education, Rajasthan (IASE), Allahabad Agricultural Institute, (AAI) and Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu, (VMRF)— were conducting distance engineering programmes without necessary approvals, including that from the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the AICTE. The Supreme Court last month had suspended the degrees awarded by them between the period 2001 and 2005 and cancelled the degrees awarded to students admitted after 2005. Sources said apart from finding out how these four universities were given post facto approvals it will also look into the overall functioning of the deemed universities in the country. It is likely to submit its report within four months, officials said. “The committee is likely to examine the issues whether more institutes were given permission by UGC to conduct distance education programme in technical education. The committee will also suggest a road map for strengthening and setting up of oversight and regulatory mechanism in the field of higher education and allied issues. The HRD ministry will examine the report and action will be taken accordingly,” said a senior HRD official. The Supreme Court had also restrained “all deemed-to-be universities to carry on any courses in distance education mode from the academic session 2018-2019 onwards unless and until it is permissible to conduct such courses in distance education mode and specific permissions are granted by the concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned statutory authorities”. – Courtesy

AICTE to conduct test for students whose distance engineering degrees were suspended by SC

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey | Dec 03, 2017 | New Delhi |

All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has started the process of registration of such students who will get an opportunity to write a test following which their degrees will stand validated.

Days after the University Grants Commission (UGC) suspended the degrees awarded to students of four deemed universities, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has started the process of registration of such students who will get an opportunity to write a test following which their degrees will stand validated. The AICTE and UGC on Sunday started the registration of candidates enrolled in deemed-to-be universities from 2001 to 2005 and were awarded degrees/diplomas in engineering through distance mode. Candidates have been given time till January 15 to register for the test. The degrees will remain suspended till they clear it, officials said. Officials said that the entrance exam will be conducted in May or June. “All the degrees of the students remain suspended. The last date for registration is January 15 and students need to register online. A written as well as practical examination will be conducted for the students,” reads the public notice issued by AICTE.

 Four institutes — JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan, Advanced Studies in Education, Rajasthan (IASE), Allahabad Agricultural Institute, (AAI), and Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu, (VMRF)— have been conducting distance engineering programmes without necessary approvals, including that from the UGC or AICTE. The Supreme Court last month had suspended the degrees awarded by them between 2001 and 2005 while the degrees awarded through distance learning by the deemed universities to students admitted after 2005 stand cancelled. The universities have been directed by the court to return the tuition fee and other expenditure incurred by the students. The Supreme Court had also restrained “all deemed-to-be universities to carry on any courses in distance education mode from the academic session 2018-2019 onwards unless and until it is permissible to conduct such courses in distance education mode and specific permissions are granted by the concerned statutory/regulatory authorities in respect of each of those courses and unless the off-campus centres/study centres are individually inspected and found adequate by the concerned statutory authorities”. AICTE rules mandate that engineering degrees cannot be offered through distance education mode. – Courtesy

AICTE approval must for deemed universities offering technical courses : Supreme Court order

One India . com | Saturday, December 2, 2017 |

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE)’s approval has been made compulsory for deemed universities offering technical and engineering courses. Deemed universities earlier used to report to the University Grants Commission (UGC).  A recent Supreme Court direction says that deemed universities should abide by AICTE norms for technical and engineering education. The apex court’s direction came as it was felt that deemed universities used to take their own decision on matters like increasing seats or starting a new course as there was no regulating authority.  A New Indian Express Report quoted AICTE chairman Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe as saying that “UGC has issued fresh guidelines mandating AICTE approval from now on.” Earlier, the Supreme Court held that the engineering degrees obtained through correspondence courses from deemed universities in the past 16 years were invalid.  A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit noted that the UGC and the AICTE did not approve distance learning programmes in engineering studies and the approval granted by the Distance Education Council (DEC) for such courses was illegal. – Courtesy

AICTE approval must for deemed-to-be universities: Supreme Court order – India Today, New Delhi, December 3, 2017

The All India Council for Technical Education is the statutory body and a national-level council for technical education, under Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Following the recent direction of the Supreme Court, the UGC has issued fresh guidelines to all deemed-to-be universities asking them to abide by AICTE norms for technical and engineering education. It was felt that deemed universities used to take their own decision on matters like increasing seats or starting a new course as there was no regulating authority.  All these years, such universities had been reporting to the University Grants Commission (UGC). Earlier, the Supreme Court held that the engineering degrees obtained through correspondence courses from deemed universities in the past 16 years were invalid.

Here’s what the Chairman of AICTE said:

“It has been noted that some deemed-to-be universities, which are offering technical, engineering, architecture and pharmacy courses, are not following AICTE rules.” Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe told Indian Express.

What does the decision say?

  • Such universities have to apply to their regulatory body even for increasing seats or starting a new course or the degrees they offer will be suspended
  • Degrees offered by deemed to be universities for technical and engineering courses through distance mode stands suspended
  • Such universities are not allowed to offer technical or engineering course through distance mode according to AICTE and UGC norms

In Karnataka, there are over five deemed-to-be universities which are offering technical courses. They include Sri Siddartha Academy for Higher Education, Tumakuru; KLE Institute, Belagavi; JSS Institute, Mysuru and Manipal Institute, Manipal. –  Courtesy

Deemed varsities cannot use ‘University’ in their names, rules Supreme Court

Zee news India | By Zee Media Bureau |  Nov 08, 2017 |

Deemed varsities can no longer use the word “university” in their names, ruled the Supreme Court. The top court further asked the University Grants Commission to implement the order within a month.

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NEW DELHI:  Deemed varsities can no longer use the word “university” in their names, ruled the Supreme Court. The top court further asked the University Grants Commission to implement the order within a month.  The SC was listening to a case involving the entitlement of the Deemed varsities to start engineering courses through distance mode and award degrees for the same. The order was passed on Friday, November 3.  SC’s decision has come as a major blow for several varsities. There are 117 deemed varsities in India, many of them seeking the status of full-fledged private universities.

The court further added that varsities and institutes can award degrees but cannot use the word “University” by virtue of Section 23 of the UGC Act.  “I wish the Supreme Court while this direction, should have detailed and discussed these provisions of UGC Act, 1956. I am also surprised to note that the Supreme Court feels that the Deemed Universities are unregulated, which is not the case, in fact they are the most regulated rather controlled segment,” said Ravi Bhardwaj, a lawyer who has represented deemed universities in court. – Courtesy

UGC Circular : Published on 10-11-2017 : UGC Letter to Deemed to be Universitites regd. Use of the word ‘University’ by Institutions Deemed to be Universities-Directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court