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Supreme Court closes deemed university case, HRD seeks legal opinion

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UGC approves new guidelines for Deemed Universities

Economic Times | By PTI | 16 Jun, 2016 |

NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved new regulations for Deemed Universities as per which there will be no bar on the number of off-campus centres such institutions may set up, though quality has to be assured.  The new guidelines also gives a time bar of seven months for the UGC and HRD ministry to take a call on setting up new centres. According to the new guidelines for Deemed Universities which was announced today by HRD minister Smriti Irani at a Press Conference, it has also been decided that Universities will not be able to charge more than Rs 10,000 at the time of counselling. “Capitation fee will not be allowed,” she added.  There have been complaints of students being asked to pay full fees which they had to struggle to recover in case they did not want to join. The new guidelines, Irani said, encourages transparency and focus on quality.  She said there is no cap on the number of off-campus centres an institution may set up but quality has to be of the highest order.  She added that to encourage transparency, it has been decided that the visits of expert committees for inspection to such institutions will be videotaped and put on the website within 24 hours.  In another departure from the previous guidelines, the new guidelines allow the persons who establish a Deemed University to occupy the post of Chancellor or Pro Chancellor.
Deemed Universities have also been given more freedom in opening new departments related to core areas, for which they now don’t have to immediately seek the permission of the regulator. The new regulations also allow setting up of off-campus centres abroad but for that additional permission of the MHA and MEA would be needed.  When asked about the existing cases of unpermitted off-campus centres by some institutions, Irani said they may be looked at in the light of the new guidelines.  A statement released today said that after receiving them from the UGC, the HRD ministry has concurred with the recommendations for notification.  According to the timelines assigned for different stages for processing of applications – information seeking by UGC (2 months), submission of reports by the Expert committee (3 months) and approval and advice of UGC (1.5 months) and Government decision (2 months). –  Courtesy       /    MHRD Circular : MHRD concurs with UGC recommendations to remove subjectivity and bring in more transparency

UGC eases entry norms for deemed universities

The Indian Express | Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:May 25, 2016 |

In a decision taken last week, the higher education regulator had removed restrictions on the appointment of deemed university chancellors allowing promoters of the institution to occupy the post.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) Tuesday announced a series of changes to the regulation governing deemed universities that would relax entry norms and dilute government control over such institutions. In a decision taken last week, the higher education regulator had removed restrictions on the appointment of deemed university chancellors allowing promoters of the institution to occupy the post. This was prohibited under the old regulation of 2010.  Another amendment provides for government nominees only in universities which are either controlled by the Centre or receive at least half of their funds from it. For the remaining, UGC will appoint a nominee out of a panel of names made by a search committee. The eligibility criterion for recognising institutions as deemed universities under the ‘De Novo’ category has also been made more flexible. UGC has now introduced the Letter of Intent (or LOI) concept, which will allow promoters to acquire deemed status for a proposed education institution based on some terms of agreement. The applicant is then required to establish the university within three years of acquiring the deemed status as opposed to the old regulation in which the promoter is eligible to apply only after setting up the institution.

Under the land norms, the Commission dropped the rigid parameter of having a five-acre campus in urban metropolitan and seven-acre campus in urban non-metropolitan area and replaced it with the condition that 40 per cent of the land area in a deemed university must be open spaces with 10 square metre per student floor space.  Additionally, to ensure quality, institutions vying for the ‘deemed university’ tag will have to either get the highest NAAC or NBA accreditation rating for three cycles consecutively or an ‘A’ grade at the time of application and a position among the top 20 institutions under the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF). Deemed universities will be able to open off-campus centres only after five years of their existence. Speaking to reporters, Higher Education secretary VS Oberoi, who is also a member of the UGC, said that the new regulations are aimed at reducing “subjectivity” and “government interference”.  There are currently 123 deemed universities of which 35 are either run or funded by government and the remaining are private.  –  Courtesy

HRD ministry is set to create a registry of experts to represent the Centre as nominees in private deemed universities

The Telegraph | Saturday , April 23 , 2016 |  Basant Kumar Mohanty |  Registry plan for deemed varsities |

New Delhi, April 22: The Smriti Irani-headed HRD ministry is set to create a registry of experts to represent the Centre as nominees in private deemed universities, mirroring an earlier proposal by former minister Kapil Sibal. The University Grants Commission last week approved procedures for such selections, which were so far being made by its chairman in the absence of guidelines and were often criticised as arbitrary. A search committee will pick the nominees to the governing boards and finance committees of the 88 private deemed universities in the country, similar to the system followed in the case of IIT directors who are also picked by such panels. The UGC will set up the search panel for the deemed universities, sources said. Sibal had as HRD minister moved the Higher Education Research Bill that sought to set up a National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) as an overarching body to regulate higher education. The bill had provisions for the NCHER to create a registry of candidates who could be appointed vice-chancellors in deemed, state and central varsities, and nobody outside the list could be considered.

The provision was later revised to include only central universities after objections from several states which saw the move as a threat to their powers. The Narendra Modi government last year withdrew the bill from Parliament. Asked about the latest move, Sibal termed it “politically motivated” and suspected the government wanted to nominate people with RSS backgrounds to the deemed varsities. “The UGC registry will open the gates for RSS ideologues. This is part of the saffronisation agenda,” the Congress leader said. The ministry is likely to approve the registry plan in a week, after which the UGC will frame the eligibility criteria for the nominees. The higher education regulator is likely to prepare a registry of 150 to 200 individuals and may invite applications for inclusion in the list. The search panel, comprising experts, will scrutinise the applications and finalise names from among the candidates.  Two lists are likely to be prepared, one of those who could be sent as nominees to the governing bodies of the deemed universities, and the other to the finance committees of such institutes. For the governing bodies, priority will be given to those with academic experience, while those with knowledge of finance – like chartered accountants or corporate professionals – will be preferred for nominations to the finance committees, UGC sources said. The lists will be posted on the UGC website. Under the current system, the government often has no representation at meetings of the private deemed universities because the UGC is unable to decide on the nominees. –  Courtesy

Supreme Court nod to NAAC accreditation for 38 deemed universities

Live Mint | Tue, April 19 2016 |  Shreeja Sen |

In September, the court had asked NAAC to assess and propose accreditation for those deemed-to-be-universities which applied for it. NAAC submitted a list of 38 universities across several states, including Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, which the apex court has now accepted.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the accreditation of 38 deemed-to-be-universities as proposed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), in a move that could bring huge relief to students across the country.  “As advised at present, we are inclined to direct that the accreditation given by the NAAC shall come into effect,” a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh said. In September, the court had asked NAAC to assess and propose accreditation for those deemed-to-be-universities which applied for it. NAAC submitted a list of 38 universities across several states, including Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, which the apex court has now accepted. The court has asked the Centre to respond to the development. –  Courtesy

Can audit private deemed universities: CAG to HRD Ministry

Economic Times | By Anubhuti Vishnoi | ET Bureau | March 10, 2016 |

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller & Auditor General of India has finally opened a window which could allow for a government audit of private deemed to be universities. The CAG is learnt to have communicated to the human resource development ministry that there are provisions in the CAG Act under which a proposal for auditing the deemed varsities can be considered. The CAG usually runs its scrutiny on the finances of those institutions that receive considerable government funding. Of the 120-odd deemed universities, the Centre fully funds three government-run deemed varsities and partially funds about 20 private ones. Nearly 85 are completely privately run. An HRD ministry backed review of deemed universities in 2009 by the Tandon committee had run into a legal tangle that is still unresolved and stiffly opposed by private deemed varsities. It is learnt that the CAG has sought well outlined specific proposals for such an audit if it is to be conducted also allowing for providing opportunity to the deemed universities to make representations on the matter. The HRD ministry had last year written to the UGC recommending an audit of all 120 deemed to be universities citing the apex higher education regulator’s 2000 as well as 2010 regulations, which provide for auditing of all deemed varsities. The UGC, however, had shot back pointing out that this was not legally tenable in case of the private deemed varsities as they did not receive any government funding.

In a response on the matter to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the HRD ministry, however, has maintained that “the UGC is not opposing the auditing of deemed universities by CAG”. The CAG has now responded to the HRD ministry saying that “specific proposals under Section 20 of the CAG’s (Duties, Power and Conditions of Service) Act, 1971” can be moved by the ministry and these could be taken up by the CAG for “their consideration and appropriate action”. The HRD ministry has also shared the same information with the Rajya Sabha in this parliament session. The HRD ministry claims that the move towards auditing is in keeping with the Clause 20 of the 2010 Deemed University Regulations, which provide for a CAG audit of all deemed to be universities. The ministry has argued that the 2010 regulations do not make any distinction between private and government funded deemed to be universities and hence all of them uniformly attract its provisions. The move is also aimed at ensuring greater quality control and checking unfair financial practices at the private deemed varsities.-  Courtesy

UGC asks student to be beware of misleading advertisements given by institutions regarding Distance Education Programmes

Zee News | Thursday, February 11, 2016  |  PTI  |

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission said that several higher educational institutions are issuing “misleading” advertisements and offering programmes in “gross violation” of norms and asked students to not fall for them. In a public notice, the UGC said it had noticed that some Universities, Deemed Universities or Institutions were offering programmes through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode in “gross violation” of the policy of UGC or erstwhile Distance Education Council (DEC).  These institutions, the notice said, are issuing “misleading” advertisements that their programmes are recognised by the UGC. Emphasising that the list of permitted programmes through distance mode is posted on UGC website, the higher education regulator clarified that no institution is permitted to offer Diploma, Bachelor or Masters level programme under ODL mode in Engineering and Technology.

“Also, UGC has not accorded recognition to any University/institution to offer online programmes,” the regulator said. –  Courtesy

UGC Circular / Notice :  Published on 11/02/2016  : UGC Public Notice reg.: Distance Education Programmes  

HRD ministry accepts UGC proposal allowing private deemed universities upto six campuses beyond approved geographical boundaries

Zee News | February 9, 2016 |  PTI  |

In a relief for several premier institutions that had received notices for off-campus centres, the HRD ministry has accepted a UGC proposal which allows private (rpt) private deemed universities upto six campuses beyond approved geographical boundaries.

New Delhi: In a relief for several premier institutions that had received notices for off-campus centres, the HRD ministry has accepted a UGC proposal which allows private (rpt) private deemed universities upto six campuses beyond approved geographical boundaries.  However, government run deemed Universities like the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, can expand much further as the restriction of having not more than six off-campuses does not apply to them. Several leading institutions including the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBMI), Mumbai, Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, Indian School of Mines Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research are learnt to have been issued notices by the UGC over over their off-campus centres.

In another key development, the ministry has also approved a UGC proposal laying the criteria for appointment of Vice Chancellors. Now a candidate to be appointed a Vice Chancellor of a deemed University should have a minimum of ten years of experience as professor in University system or ten years of equivalent experience in a reputed research or academic organisation. The details for composition of search and selection committees for selection have also been finalised. “The Commission (UGC) had in a recent meeting approved these amendments in the UGC regulations for deemed institutions which have found concurrence of the ministry,” a senior HRD ministry official said. The Vice Chancellor shall be a whole time salaried officer of the Institution appointed by the Visitor or Chancellor from a panel of three names suggested by a search cum selection committee. As per the new norms, in case the management control of an institution deemed to be a University is with the Centre or the State governments, the VC shall be appointed in accordance with procedure laid down by these governments. In case where funding of the institution deemed to be a University is more than or equal to 50 per cent, the search cum selection committee should comprise a nominee of the chancellor, a nominee of the government who shall be an eminent academic nominated in consultation with UGC and a nominee of Board of management. In cases where the funding is less than 50 per cent of expenditure, the search cum selection committee should include a nominee of the Visitor or Chancellor, who would head it. Other members of the search cum selection committee would include a nominee of Chairman UGC and a nominee of a Syndicate or Executive council or Board of Management of the Deemed University. –  Courtesy

Deemed university programmes before May 21, 2010 valid: Delhi High Court (HC)

Jeevan Prakash Sharma | Hindustan Times | January 15, 2016 |

Students heaved a sigh of relief after a recent Delhi High Court (HC) order that any new course/department started by deemed universities without taking the consent of the University Grants Commission (UGC) before May 21, 2010, was valid.

Students holding degrees granted before May 21, 2010, from deemed universities heaved a sigh of relief after a recent Delhi high court (HC) order that any new course/department started by deemed universities without taking the consent of the University Grants Commission (UGC) before May 21, 2010, was valid.  Many deemed universities had started courses at different points of time without taking requisite UGC permissions. However, Delhi HC order also states that UGC approvals are mandatory for new programmes/departments launched after May 21, 2010. UGC had argued before Delhi HC that deemed universities should have started degree courses in accordance with its (UGC’s) 2000 and 2004 guidelines, which mandated all deemed universities to first seek its approval. However, Delhi HC, prioritising regulations instead of guidelines, ruled that guidelines could not be laid down without framing regulations, “which it (UGC) did only by inclusion of Regulation 12 in the Regulations of the year 2010 which came into force on 21st May, 2010.” The guidelines of year 2000 or of 2004 or the instructions issued by UGC requiring deemed universities to obtain its prior approval before starting a new course “are of no avail and UGC could not have insisted so without framing the Regulation,” HC said. For UGC, the news has its positives as well as negatives. While the Division Bench of the Delhi HC upheld the UGC (institutions deemed to be universities) Regulations 2010, a Single Bench of Karnataka HC had earlier struck down the Regulations, which UGC has challenged in the Division Bench.

“Now when the Division Bench of the Delhi HC has upheld the validity of Regulation 2010, it will make our case quite strong in the Karnataka HC . However, Delhi HC’s ruling that UGC can’t regulate such a matter by issuing guidelines instead of regulations is a big setback for us. It puts a question mark on several important guidelines which UGC has issued from time to time. We may challenge it in the Supreme Court,” a UGC source says. The matter came to Delhi HC when the Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Science, (formerly Allahabad Agricultural Institute) filed a writ petition and said that UGC by a letter dated December 3, 2014, had informed the university that it had not taken approvals to start the departments of: i) public health, ii) pharmaceutical sciences, iii) medical laboratory technology (MLT), and, iv) nursing. The letter said that as per the UGC norms already circulated to the deemed university it can start only those courses which are allied to courses already approved by the UGC. Prior UGC approval is required for programmes which are not allied to the courses already approved.

The university was also informed by UGC that the courses being offered by its departments of i) public health, ii) pharmaceutical sciences, iii) MLT, (iv) radio imaging technology, and v) physiotherapy, were not allied to the courses approved by the UGC and hence “cannot be termed as valid”. The UGC also instructed the university not to admit students to the said courses.  The university challenged the validity of UGC’s letter and also questioned the validity of its previous guidelines of 2000 and 2004 and Regulation 2010, arguing that there was no provision in the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, which required a deemed university to seek UGC approval for starting a course. Giving partial relief to both the university and UGC, the Division Bench said, “…even though UGC Act does not make any distinction between a university and a deemed university but the two cannot possibly fall in one class and UGC would be entitled to make such a provision for deemed universities only.” –  Courtesy

UGC likely to review 125 deemed universities

Asian Age | | Age Correspondent | New Delhi |

The university grants commission (UGC) is likely to review the deemed university status enjoyed by 125 educational institutions in the country. It is understood that the human resource development ministry has given the go ahead to UGC to review the status for all deemed universities. Sources stated that the UGC initially asked the ministry if it should review just C-category deemed universities — which the Tandon committee had advised for blacklisting. However, the government is understood to be in favour of reviewing all 125 institutions. The P.N. Tandon committee in 2009 suggested blacklisting 44 deemed universities, saying they lacked required quality.

The move comes two months after UGC asked 10 deemed universities to shut their off-campus centres. The regulator had said these centres were set up without following rules. Sources stated that the review has been prompted as some of the deemed universities are way below expectations. After the review, if any of these are found wanting they are likely to face severe penalties, ranging from suspension of admission to fines. The move could trigger further controversy as several of these institutions have been graded by the national assessment and accreditation council (NAAC). Over the last few months, the NAAC completed the accreditation process and graded them and a fresh round of review by UGC may lead to confusion, sources said. –  Courtesy