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Delhi University, IIT among 100 seeking world-class university tag from UGC

Business Standard | Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  | December 12, 2017 |

The UGC had in September started inviting applications from all institutions that are keen to enter the top 100 of global rankings with the government’s assistance.

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) has received 100 applications, maximum being from public institutions, including seven IITs, for the Human Resource Development Ministry’s ambitious 20 world-class institutions project, according to an official data.  The 90-day deadline of receiving applications from all institutions expires today.  Under public sector, 10 central universities, 25 state universities, six deemed to be universities, 20 institutions of national importance and six stand-alone institutions have applied. Under private sector, nine private universities and 16 deemed to be universities have applied in brown field category and eight institutions have applied in the green field category.  “Overwhelming response to the idea of institutions of eminence. This is how world-class uiversities were built in various countries. The same thing will happen in India,” Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said.  Among those who have applied from the public sector are seven Indian Institutes of Technology (Madras, Delhi, Bombay, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Guwahati, Roorkee), Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jadhavpur University, Goa University, Panjab University and Mangalore University.

From the private sector, the O P Jindal Global University, Ashoka University, Manipal University and Amity University, among others, have applied for the tag.  The UGC had in September started inviting applications from all institutions that are keen to enter the top 100 of global rankings with the government’s assistance.  The Centre wants to establish a total of 20 ‘Institutes of Eminence‘ — a distinct category of deemed-to-be- universities, supporting them to become “World Class” institutions.  By March-April 2018, 20 (10 each from public and private category) institutions will be accorded the eminence status with a mandate to achieve the world-class status over a period of 10 years. The selected institutions will have the freedom to choose their own path to become world-class institutions.  “They will be provided with greater autonomy to admit up to 30 per cent foreign students, to recruit up to 25 per cent foreign faculty, to offer online courses up to 20 per cent of its programmes, to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking institutions without permission of the UGC,” a senior HRD Ministry official said. The instituions will also be free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction and will have a flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree and fixing of curriculum. As per the guidelines issued by the UGC, institutions in the top 50 of the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings or those ranking among top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS University Rankings or Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities were eligible to apply. New institutions were required to submit a 15-year vision plan to be among the top 500 globally ranked institutions, while existing institutions among the top 500 had to offer a plan to improve their ranking to be among the top 100 in the next 10 years. A screening committee will go through the applications and select the institutions. – Courtesy

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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

UGC allows candidates registered for PhD before 2009 to be appointed assistant professors

The Free Press Journal Bureau | |

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New Delhi : Those with PhD before 2009 shall be appointed assistant professors without undertaking the National Eligibility Test (NET). The University Grants Commission (UGC) even relaxed the condition that they should have published at least two papers after securing the degree. Those who earned their PhDs since 2009 are exempt from the NET irrespective of their published papers – provided the institutions that awarded the doctorates to them followed the commission’s 2009 quality guidelines.  “The research papers of the candidate from his/her research work published beyond the period of acquiring his/ her PhD degree are also acceptable provided it is certified by the PhD degree awarding university,” says the clarification issued by commission secretary P. K. Thakur. It also allowed post- PhD seminar presentations by the candidates to count while determining NET exemption.

Candidates for teaching jobs at universities and colleges need to qualify through the NET or the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET), whichever is relevant, but PhD holders initially enjoyed a blanket exemption. This led to complaints that many of them were not good enough, thanks to a lack of standardisation in doctorate programmes. In 2009, the regulator came up with norms relating to entrance tests and course work for PhD programmes, and said the existing doctorates must take the NET/ SLET to secure teaching jobs. This triggered protests, and the government set up a committee. It said pre- 2009 PhD holders should be exempt from these exams if they had been interviewed on their theses by experts, had their theses externally assessed, and had two publications and two presentations under their belt.  – Courtesy

Click here to Download the UGC Circular : Published on 08-12-2017 :  UGC Public Notice reg.: PhD Degrees registered prior to July 11, 2009 , 1 page, pdf

UGC to revise NET syllabus for first time in 10 years, may reduce test frequency

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey| 14 November 2017 | New Delhi |

Officials said the exam’s curriculum will be tweaked to reflect changes in what is being taught in colleges across the country. The curriculum of NET, a countrywide examination mandatory for people eyeing teaching jobs in colleges and universities in India, will be revised for the first time in a decade, officials of the University Grants Commission have told Hindustan Times. The UGC, India’s apex education regulator, has set up committees to revise the syllabus of each of the subjects to reflect changes in what is being taught in higher education institutions across the country, according to senior officials. “The syllabus for the exam has stayed the same though most universities have changed their curriculum over a period of time. We need to reflect those changes… The committees will prepare the draft syllabus and submit it for approval. Once approved a decision will be taken on when to implement it,” said a senior UGC official, requesting anonymity since the information was privileged.

Securing a qualifying score in the National Eligibility Test is must for those applying to be assistant professors – the first rung in college teaching — and for junior research fellows. The test is held twice a year, first in July and later in December.   For now, 25 committees have been drawn up for separate subjects. NET is held for 90 subjects and officials said more committees will be set up to cover all subjects.  According to the source, the panels include people actively engaged in teaching and research. This is “to ensure the syllabus is more dynamic and is able to meet the current requirement”, the official said. There is also a plan to turn hold the test only once a year. A senior Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry official said the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has said that it is difficult to carry out the examination twice. Sources said poor response to the test — 6.5 lakh students register on an average and approximately 1.5 lakh take it, with a pass percentage of only 3.9% — is being seen as a factor behind the proposal to reduce the frequency. This year, the summer NET exam was delayed and held on November 5. – 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

Supreme Court bans deemed universities from offering engineering courses in distance mode

Deccan Herald | DH News Service | New Delhi, Nov 3 2017 |

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit also raised serious questions over the institutions being allowed to use the word ‘university’ and asked the government to restrain them from use of the word.

Supreme Court on Friday ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed a group of deemed universities to offer engineering courses in distance education, as it took a critical view of such institutions. A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit also raised serious questions over the institutions being allowed to use the word ‘university’ and asked the government to restrain them from use of the word. In a series of orders, the bench banned deemed universities from offering engineering courses through distance education from 2018-19 academic year, instructing them not to do so without the sanction of AICTE.  Lamenting that extensive commercialization has robbed higher education of credibility and standard; the bench said it seriously compromised knowledge and impacted excellence and merit. It also asked government to set up a three-member panel to develop roadmap to strengthen higher education and come up with a regulatory system in six months.

“The UGC had completely failed to remedy the situation,” the bench said in its 118-page judgement highlighting failure of monitoring and regulating ‘deemed-to-be-universities.’ “Serious question has therefore arisen as to the manning of the UGC itself for its effective working,” it noted. IT ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed Vinayaka Mission’s research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu, IASE Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr Rajasthan, JRN Vidyapeeth Udaipur, Rajasthan and Allahabad Agriculture Research Institute, Allahabad to offer B Tech and B E courses in distance education mode. It also ordered the UGC to consider if the ‘deemed university’ status enjoyed by the institutions could be withdrawn as they violated policies and norms.

Citing the affidavit of the then UGC Chairman Ved Prakash detailing how the institutes were allowed to offer courses, the bench raised serious doubt over the approach and conduct of the higher education regulator. “On one hand, the authorities were proclaiming their policy statements and on the other, despite there being complaints, they went about granting permissions,” it noted. The issue came up before the apex court following conflicting orders by Orissa and Punjab and Haryana High Courts. While the Orissa HC had approved engineering degrees awarded to serving diploma holders through ‘Off-Campus Study Centres’, Punjab and Haryana HC took a contrary view. The court ordered to suspend degrees awarded to students by the four institutions in the 2001-05 academic session. It asked AICTE to hold a test in May 2018-19 and recall degrees given to students who fail. Asking the varsities to refund fees collected on the course if the students do not wish to appear for the AICTE test, the court also ordered to withdraw any jobs or benefits taken by the students on the basis of those degrees. It ordered to cancel degrees awarded after the academic session 2001-05 and withdraw any jobs given on that basis. – Courtesy   /   Click here to download / view the Judgement – 118 pages, pdf

Distance education: institutes must become deemed-to-be varsities

Deccan Chronicle | Prakash Kumar | DH News Service | Oct 19 2017 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has amended its ODL regulations for this

NEW DELHI : Standalone higher educational institutions, which offer various certificate and post-graduate diploma programmes in the open and distance learning (ODL) mode, will have to qualify for deemed university status to continue their operations from the next academic session. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has amended its ODL regulations for this.  The revised UGC (ODL) regulations, 2017 are applicable to all standalone institutions which have been offering distance education with the approval of the erstwhile Distance Education Council (DEC) under the Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou).  The standalone higher educational institutions include those which are not affiliated or recognised by any university.

“Certificates, diplomas or post-graduate diplomas awarded by the standalone institutions, which have also been approved by the commission based on the policies of the then Distance Education Council till the academic year 2016-17, shall remain valid programmes till the academic session 2017-18,” the UGC said, notifying the changes in its ODL regulations in an official gazette on October 11. “Thereafter, they shall be free to get their standalone institution status converted to university or deemed-to-be-university for the purpose of these ODL regulations, failing which, the commission shall not accord any approval to the ODL programmes of standalone institutions,” it said. This comes after many standalone institutions faced UGC regulations banning them from offering any distance education programmes earlier this year, even though they were running the courses with the approval of the DEC. Some of these institutions, including Maharashtra Academy of Engineering and Research, approached the Delhi High Court, seeking relief. Hearing their petition, a division bench of the high court recently directed the government to let all approved standalone institutions continue offering distance education programmes, as approved by the DEC, in the current academic session of 2017-18. It also held that petitioners may, in the meantime, commence the process of admissions to the courses they offer. – Courtesy

‘Muslim’ from AMU, ‘Hindu’ from BHU should be dropped, says UGC

India Today | New Delhi, October 9, 2017 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended to drop words such as ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ in names of universities–Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University.

Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University

In a major announcement, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended to drop words such as ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ in names of universities–Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University. The UGC panel suggested that these words do not reflect their secular character.

Reasons behind recommendation:

As reported by PTI, the panel was formed to probe the alleged irregularities in 10 central universities and the recommendations have been made in the audit report of AMU.

Here’s what the panel said:

While speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the panel members said centrally funded universities are secular institutions but such words related to religion in their names do not reflect that character.

Besides AMU and BHU, other universities that were audited by the panel are the following:

  • Pondicherry University
  • Allahabad University
  • Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand
  • Central University of Jharkhand
  • Central University of Rajasthan
  • Central University of Jammu
  • Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Wardha
  • University of Tripura
  • Hari Singh Gour University in Madhya Pradesh

Furthermore, panel said, the universities can be simply called Aligarh University and Banaras University or be renamed after their founders. – Courtesy

UGC’s approved journal list has 111 more predatory journals

The Hindu | Srinivasan Ramani |  R. Prasad  |  Chennai, September 14 |

Directory of Open Access Journals flags them “for suspected editorial misconduct”

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The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) approved list of journals or white list appears more grey than white. In June this year, the UGC released a revised list of 33,112 approved journals in which university/college faculty and students may publish papers. It has now come to light that UGC’s revised list contains 111 potential predatory or fraudulent journals. Last week, The Hindu reported that the revised list contains 84 predatory journals that are found in librarian Jeffrey Beall’s (University of Colorado, Denver) list of “potential, possible, or probable” predatory journals, bringing the total to 195. The journals from the UGC white list (45,925, including inactive journals at ugc.ac.in) were “web-scraped” and individually “string-matched” with the list of journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) flagged as “suspected editorial misconduct by publisher”.

Earlier, the same list was compared with Mr. Beall’s list. An exact string match between the names of journals in the lists was taken as the criteria to flag the journal as predatory. Of the 586 journals that the DOAJ had recently removed from its directory on grounds of “suspected editorial misconduct by publisher”, the UGC list contains 114. Three of the 114 journals have an overlap with Mr. Beall’s list. By all accounts, the probability of the revised list containing more predatory journals cannot be ruled out. For instance, the UGC list has included some journals, which have all the tell-tale signs of predatory journals. They are neither found in Mr. Beall’s list nor are they among the DOAJ’s rejected journals.

 Malpractices aplenty

A few of the predatory journals that have been removed from the DOAJ database want the authors to assign copyright to the journals, which goes against the grain of open access, while a few others offer an e-certificate to authors of published papers and a hard copy of the certificate for a fee. One journal also offers authors a unique payment option — by paying a registration fee of ₹3,000, authors will be allowed to publish multiple articles without paying any article processing charge. Most journals have fake impact factors (an indicator of importance of the journal in the field). In a sting operation in late 2012, a “mundane paper with grave errors” was sent to 167 journals included in the DOAJ database and 121 from Mr. Beall’s list. While 82% publishers in Mr. Beall’s list accepted the questionable paper, nearly 45% of DOAJ publishers did not reject the paper. About six months after the results of the sting operation were published in October 2013 in the journal Science, the DOAJ began its mammoth exercise of removing the bad apples. The DOAJ has cleaned up its database by removing nearly 3,800 journals. Following the introduction of new criteria for listing in March 2014, DOAJ has received 1,600 applications from Open Access journal publishers in India, which is the “highest number” in the world. But of the 1,600, only 4% (74) were from genuine journal publishers and accepted for inclusion in the DOAJ directory. – Courtesy

UGC Invites proposal for Institutions of Eminence (IOEs)

ND TV | Education | Pres Trust of India |  September 12, 2017 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has rolled out an application process for varsities and institutes seeking the “eminence” tag.

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) has rolled out an application process for varsities and institutes seeking the “eminence” tag. The establishment of 20 world-class institutions, 10 public and the rest private, is one of the flagship projects of the Ministry of Human Resource Development for internationalisation of Indian campuses and creating world class universities. The government will invest Rs. 10,000 crore in 10 public higher education institutions to be shortlisted with a mission to make them “world-class” and the investment will be done over a period of 10 years, which is over and above the regular grants. The UGC today announced the initiation of the 90 days application process from interested public and private institutions. By March-April 2018, 20 (10 each from public and private category) institutions will be according the status of “Institutions of Eminence” with a mandate to achieve world- class status over a period of 10 years.

“The process for setting up of Institutions of Eminence gets underway from September 13 with the invitation for applications. “The institutions which can apply are divided into three categories – existing government educational institutions, existing private higher educational institutions and sponsoring organization for setting up of private institutions,” Kewal Kumar Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of HRD told reporters. As per the guidelines issued by the UGC, institutions in the top 50 of the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) rankings or those who have secured ranking among top 500 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS University Rankings or Shanghai Ranking Academic Ranking of World Universities are eligible to apply. New institutions need to submit a 15-year vision plan to be among the top 500 globally ranked institutions, while existing institutions among the top 500 would have to offer a plan to improve their ranking to be among the top 100 in the next 10 years.

“The mission is to set up universities with all India character and with international standards. For a large country like India the possibility of providing globally recognized best education is what we are trying to create,” said Mr Sharma. The institutions declared as Institutions of Eminence will be free from the usual regulatory mechanism to choose their path to become institutions of global repute with emphasis on multi-disciplinary initiatives, high quality research, global best practices and international collaborations. Unlike the other institutions in the country, these institutions will have the liberty to enroll upto 30 per cent foreign students. Moreover, selected public institutions will be able to recruit upto 25 per cent foreign faculty, while there will be no such limit for selected private institutions. “The universities will have the freedom of devising their own courses, create centres without coming to UGC, fix their own fee structure, but with a need blind mechanism so that the best students are not denied education for fund crunch,” a senior UGC official said. The HRD Ministry will set up an empowered expert committee which will process the application and the process of shortlisting the institutions is likely to be completed by March-April 2018. – Courtesy   /   UGC Circular – Published on 12/09/2017 : UGC Invites proposal for Institutions of Eminence (IOEs)