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Institutes of Eminence status given without field visits, rankings

Economic Times | Anubhuti Vishnoi | ET BureauJul 13, 2018 | Opinion |

NEW DELHI: The choice of six Institutes of Eminence—three each in the public and private domains—has sparked controversy, particularly over one of them, but how did the committee arrive at its picks—and so quickly? Did the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) that assessed all 113 eligible institutes follow selection guidelines to the letter? A close examination of the process followed suggests perhaps not. On the other hand, EEC chairman N Gopalaswami offered a strong defence of the committee’s method of functioning and said that strict adherence would have led to the compilation taking a year or so.  The EEC didn’t conduct any field visit or tabular rankings of the institutes, both of which are in the University Grants Commission (Declaration of Government Educational Institutions as Institutions of Eminence) Guidelines, 2017. To be sure, the field visits are only recommendatory in nature but a tabular appraisal of all institutes and their ranking is required.  The appraisal methodology detailed in the EEC report mentions various aspects taken into consideration but gives no information on specific parameters and weightage of each in overall assessment/score of an institute. There is no statistical or comparative assessment of applicants in the report.

The EEC processed the 113 applications in 45-50 days, mainly on the basis of their detailed applications and presentations which were seen and discussed over eight separate days with the institutes between April 2 and May 8. EEC was announced in February and as per its report started work on April 2 with a briefing by the human resource development secretary and the University Grants Commission (UGC) chairman.  The committee submitted its report before the end of May. Gopalaswami told ET that field visits were not mandatory and the committee was of the view that comparative rankings would not be fair. “No field visits were conducted as we did not feel they were necessary,” Gopalaswami told ET. “UGC guidelines do allow it but it was not mandatory. If we were to conduct field visits of all 113 institutes, it would probably take a year. We also did not do any ranking of institutes because we felt that it may not be fair to do so. In many cases, the difference between institutes was very narrow and so to rank them would not really be proper, it was felt.” The ex-chief election commissioner maintained that due process had been followed.

“Institutes applied with considerable information,” he said. “Then they were called for individual presentations that lasted 10-15 minutes, followed by about another 15 minutes of the EEC seeking clarifications and questions on the institute concerned. We felt satisfied with this process. It was conducted in a transparent manner, all relevant questions were asked of them. The key criterion was whether an institute can achieve a place in the top 500 of global rankings in next 10 years and this was assessed on a range of parameters like faculty-student ratio, vacancies, research output and so on.” EEC members Tarun Khanna of Harvard Business School and Renu Khator, president of the University of Houston, declined to comment, saying the chairman was best placed to do so. Pritam Singh, former director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, could not be contacted. While all members attended the first round of meetings in Delhi, some of the subsequent ones had Khanna and Khator participating via video conference.

THREE QUESTIONS
While the scheme led to lengthy exchanges between the HRD ministry and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over final contours, eyebrows were raised when the government decided to extend deadline for submission of applications to February from January, despite about 80 having already been received. The extension was given to allow more time to some institutes that had not readied the comprehensive application, according to people aware of the matter, including that of a leading private player whose institute did not eventually make it to the list of six.  Second, EEC abruptly scrapped a shortlist of 40 institutes in April and decided instead to assess all 113.  The decision was apparently guided by the PMO, which felt some key institutes had been left out of the shortlist and it would be worthwhile to give a chance to all in the fray.  Third, the EEC assessed all 113 eligible institutes in April and May and submitted a report to the government in mid-May. The findings sparked to confusion all the way from the PMO to the HRD ministry as they found no more than eight eligible for the status of eminence in the public category and three among the private ones, whereas the 2016 budget clearly allowed for 20 institutes. Through June, government attempts to find a ‘resolution’ to this situation failed and it was finally decided to pick an equal number of institutes from both categories to ensure fairness.- Courtesy

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Proposed Jio institute gets eminence status with IITs and IISc

The Indian Express | Express News Service | New Delhi | July 10, 2018 |

The Institutions of Eminence are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions. For instance, they will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students and have a flexible course duration and structure.

Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio Institute has found a place among IIT-Delhi (in pic), IIT-Bombay, IISc among others. (File photo from IE)

The government Monday awarded Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to three public and three private institutions — IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), BITS-Pilani, Manipal Academy of High Education, and Reliance Foundation’s proposed Jio Institute near Navi Mumbai. The University Grants Commission (UGC) approved six names against the promised 20 slots. The government’s formal notification is expected soon. The Union Cabinet had approved UGC’s ‘Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities Regulations 2017’, in August, 2017. The regulations are aimed at creating an enabling architecture for 10 public and 10 private institutions to emerge as world-class institutions, since the country has little representation in the international ranking of educational institutions. Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag. The private IoEs can also come up as greenfield ventures, provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

The IoEs are proposed to have greater autonomy compared to other higher education institutions. For instance, they will be free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students, and have a flexible course duration and structure. Their academic collaborations with foreign institutions will be exempt from approvals of government or UGC except institutions based on a list of negative countries prepared by the External Affairs and Home ministries. Once identified, the target for the IoEs would be to break into the top 500 in at least one internationally reputed ranking framework in 10 years and come up in the top 100 over time. The 10 government institutions, in addition to autonomy, will also get Rs 1,000 crore each from the HRD Ministry to achieve world-class status. The government will offer no financial assistance to the private institutions.

A total of 114 institutions and universities – 74 from public sector and 40 from private sector – had applied for IoE status. Out of these, 11 are central universities, 27 are state universities, 10 are state private universities and the remaining are institutes of national importance (INIs), deemed universities, stand-alone institutions and organisations that intend to establish universities. The Empowered Expert Committee (EEC), which was entrusted to find 20 institutions out of 114 applicants, could only identify 11, of which six have been awarded the eminence tag, for now. The four-member EEC is headed by former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and has Renu Khator, president of University of Houston, R Pritam Singh from the Management Development Institute and Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School, as its other members. The committee had each of the 114 applicants submit their presentations in advance. The members then met each applicant for about half an hour, of which 15 minutes were earmarked for a presentation and the remaining time spent on questions regarding the proposal.  Asked why the committee couldn’t finalise names of 20 IoEs, Gopalaswami told The Indian Express, “That was maximum. Is there a rule that if the government prescribes a maximum, we should suggest the maximum even if the institution is not suitable? The basic criterion is not the number. The basic criterion is whether the institution has the capability (to break into the top 100 global rankings).”

The Indian Express has learnt that IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Madras, Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jadavpur University were among 11 names suggested by EEC, but were not awarded the status. “Out of the 11 names suggested by the EEC, only three were private. So, a decision was taken to announce equal number of institutes from public and private sector, which, consequently, limited the announcement of public institutions to three for now,” government sources said. Out of the three private IoEs announced Monday, Reliance Foundation’s Jio Institute which, at this moment, is just a proposal on paper, was selected under the greenfield category. According to sources, there were 10 other applicants under this category, namely Vedanta’s proposed university in Odisha, Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad, Satya Bharti Foundation, Indian Institute of Human Settlement in Benguluru, Indian Institute of Public Health in Gandhinagar, Maharashtra Institute of Technology in Pune, KREA University in Chennai, DICE Knowledge Foundation, Acharya Institutes in Bengaluru and Indus Tech University in Delhi.

According to the proposal submitted by the Reliance Foundation, the Jio Institute is proposed to have 10 schools offering over 50 disciplines, including humanities, engineering, medical sciences, sports, law, performing arts, sciences and urban planning.  The Foundation has promised to hire faculty from the top 500 global universities, a residential university city for its teachers, set up inter-disciplinary research centres to provide solutions for real-world challenges and commit Rs 9,500 crore towards the institute’s funding, among other things. Justifying Reliance Foundation’s selection over other 10 applicants, the HRD Ministry said in a statement issued on Monday that the Jio Institute proposal satisfied four parameters – availability of land, a core team with high qualifications and experience, funding and a strategic vision plan.

Gopalaswami said, “The applicant has to prove and demonstrate that it has a plan of action ready, that they are prepared in every which way and it is a doable plan. You cannot say that you have identified land, but don’t have possession of the said land or that it is under legal dispute. In each case, we questioned them about their plan and then we made our assessment, whether it is a feasible one or not. The committee then decided that the most feasible of all was only this (Reliance Foundation) proposal.” The Jio Institute doesn’t get the IoE status right away, but a Letter of Intent, instead, for three years. In this time, it has to achieve all the milestones that it has promised to the EEC and the latter, after a review, will finally award the status to the institute. As for the existing institutions that were named as IoEs on Monday, they will formally get the tag as soon as they sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the government. Asked why an applicant with a good track record — ISB-Hyderabad, for instance — lost out to a proposed institute, Gopalaswami said, “Firstly, what came before us was not ISB, but a new institution they were also proposing to set up. Secondly, we haven’t selected any management institution, not even IIM-Ahmedabad, because they don’t figure in the international rankings. You have to be a comprehensive university, not a sectoral one.” The EEC has recommended that the government should start a special programme for sectoral institutions like IIMs, TISS, TIFR and invest in them with a different set of defined goals.

Asked why the government decided to even consider greenfield projects, when there are already many good institutes existing in the private sector, higher education secretary R Subrahmanyam told The Indian Express, “Why not greenfield? The idea is to invite the best to set up world-class institutions. If a new player has the wherewithal to do it, then there is no reason that they should not be encouraged.” The UGC has requested the expert group to continue their selection process to suggest nine more institutions it deems fit for the eminence tag, so that announcements for the remaining IOEs (seven public and seven private) can be made at the earliest. “We have identified the shortcomings (of the applicants who have not been selected) and asked them to come back after making amends,” Gopalaswami said. “This decision is a landmark decision for following reasons – This was never thought of & tried; it is more than a graded autonomy, it is really a full autonomy to the institutes; the institutes can take their own decisions,” HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted. “While today’s decision gives virtually full autonomy, it will also ensure that no student will be denied opportunity of education with various measures like scholarships, interest waiver, fee waiver and ensure all equity principles,” he posted. – Courtesy

Jio Institute only has ‘Letter of Intent’ not ‘IOE’ status: Higher Education Secretary  –    Jul 10, 2018, Deccan Chronicle

New Delhi, Jul 10 (ANI): As the Jio Institute, an education venture by Reliance Foundations, is yet to be set …

New Delhi, Jul 10 (ANI): As the Jio Institute, an education venture by Reliance Foundations, is yet to be set up, it is already embroiled in rumors that it has got an institute of eminence tag. On the issue of its status as ‘eminent institute’ R Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Higher Education said, “Regulation of Institutes of Eminence has given 3 categories, 1st- public institutions in which IITs were considered, 2nd category- private institutions in which BITS Pilani and Manipal are there. The third category is Greenfield private institutions which are not there right now but where well meaning responsible private investment wants to bring global standards to the country, they should be welcomed. As Jio institute is starting on a greenfield mode, they will only get ‘Letter of Intent’ which states they must set-up in 3 years. If they setup, then they get ‘IOE’ status, right now they don’t have the tag, they only have letter of intent”. These institutions will also receive funding from the government to help make them world-class institutions..  Courtesy

UGC Circular : Published on 11-07-2018 :  Institutions of Eminence – Report of the Empowered Expert Committee and Resolution of the Commission (UGC)

Modi government to dissolve UGC, set up new Higher Education Commission of India (HECI)

The Economic Times | Anubhuti Vishnoi |  ET Bureau Jun 28, 2018 |

In one of the biggest move towards reforming higher education in India, the Modi government today announced a complete overhaul of the apex higher education regulator- University Grants Commission, repeal of the UGC Act, 1951 and a fresh legislation to set up the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI).  Stopping short of setting up a single higher education regulator subsuming all regulatory bodies as was envisaged earlier, the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has decided to revamp UGC and its parent legislation completely so that the HERC focusses on setting up academic standards and ensure their implementation rather than invest its energies on grant giving. The HECI will also be backed with penal powers to order closure of institutes that violate set norms, imposition of fines where necessary and provisions for imprisonment up to three years where necessary.  The HECI Act, 2018 is expected to be piloted in Parliament in the upcoming monsoon session. Considering that the Modi government’s term is coming to an end, it will be challenging to get parliamentary passage for a fresh legislation.

The HECI will not subsume the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) as was originally envisaged as there were concerns red flagged over cadre merger and other technical issues. Both, the AICTE Act and the NCTE Act will be revised to fall in tune with the new HERC Act and reflect the same basic principle of focus on effective regulations for academic standards rather than administrative grant giving functions, sources told ET. The provisions of the new HECI Act, 2018 will override the Architects Act as far as academic standards are concerned.  The key thrust areas of the HECI will be downsizing over governance of institutions, bring in disclosure based regulatory regime and powers of enforcement of regulations. A huge focus will be there on academic quality with emphasis on improving learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, use of technology and so on. The HECI will also set standards for opening and closure of institutes, provide greater flexibility and autonomy to institutes and lays tankards for appointments to critical leadership positions at institutions across spectrums and even for those falling under state laws. An advisory council with the HRD minister, Higher Education Secretary and state higher education council heads besides experts will be set up under the HERC Act to advise on various issues every six months.

The UGC and its regulatory regime have been criticised by a number of committees and their reports for its restrictive and suffocating processes. Several committees including the Prof Yash Pal committee and the National Knowledge Commission of the UPA era and the Hari Gautam committee in the Modi regime have recommended a single education regulator to rid higher education of red tape and lethargy. While plans for a single regulator were at an advanced stage, these were dropped after a May meeting chaired by the HRD minister in Mussorie. The meeting saw concerns being raised about the feasibility of merging bodies like UGC and AICTE besides the challenges of establishing a full-fledged new regulatory structure, with a fresh legislation.  The AICTE had red flagged at the Mussorie meeting that they had already brought in several reform measures in their regulatory approach and their merger at this stage into a HEERA like body was hardly then justifiable. That a range of measures for reform in UGC were brought in following announcements in the 2017 budget was also pointed out. Building on these, it is being felt, may be easier than starting from scratch on a new regulator. Accordingly, while UGC will undergo a major overhaul, the legislation’s governing AICTE and NCTE will be amended to bring in changes if necessary. – Courtesy

The Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar has appealed to all educationists, stakeholders and general public to furnish comments and suggestions by 7th July 2018 till 5 p.m.on the draft Bill.

The human resources development ministry has extended the deadline for receiving feedback and suggestions from stakeholders on scrapping of the Universities Grant Commission and the draft bill for replacing it with the Higher Education Commission for India till July 20.

The comments may be mailed to reformofugc@gmail.com  –   MHRD Circular, 3 pages, pdf   –    Click here to view / download MHRD HECI Draft Bill – 14 pages, pdf

HRD Ministry mandates universities to hold convocation every year

The Week | PTI | New Delhi June 17, 2018 |

Representational Image

The HRD Ministry has written to all universities mandating them to hold convocation every year after few universities were found skipping the event. “Convocation ceremonies must be held regularly and degrees awarded annually as the event carries a huge significance for graduating students and is a moment of pride for their families,” a senior HRD Ministry official said. “It was found that some universities were not doing the exercise regularly due to either financial or time constraints. However, they are supposed to do it every year,” the official added. The Ministry has also asked all universities to send details of the last convocation held by them. For instance, West Bengal’s Visva Bharati University held its convocation in May after five years. The Central University of Tripura held its convocation after four years this year where they awarded degrees to all scholars from the last four years. Forty-six years after its first and only convocation, the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) held its second convocation this year.  – Courtesy

Ph.D Mandatory For Assistant Professor Recruitment in Universities From 2021

Education | NDTV Education Team |  June 13, 2018 |

Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has notified that Ph.D will be mandatory for the direct recruitment of assistant professors in Indian universities.

New Delhi:  Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has notified that Ph.D will be mandatory for the direct recruitment of assistant professors in Indian universities. The new UGC regulation in this regard will be in place from July 2021 and the same rule will also be applied for promotion to Assistant Professor (Selection Grade) in colleges, said a statement from the ministry. Currently, those who hold Ph.D degree or are UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) qualified with masters degree are eligible to apply for assistant professor, the entry level position, in universities. “Ph.D Degree shall be mandatory requirement for Direct Recruitment to the post of Assistant Professors in University with the effect from 1st July, 2021. However, Masters degree with NET or Ph.D. will continue to be the minimum eligibility requirement for Direct Recruitment to the post of Assistant Professors in colleges,” said the statement. The Regulations mandate introduction of one month induction programme for newly recruited Assistant Professors in Universities/Colleges/Higher Education Institutions.

According to new rules, incentives to teachers as provided in the earlier Regulations of 2010 and subsequent amendments have been retained and these include incentives for MPhil/Ph.D.  The new regulations have done away with the Academic Performance Indicator (API) based appraisal and according to HRD, a new simplified teacher evaluation grading system has been introduced and research score added for Universities to improve research output.  Announcing the new regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC), HRD minister Prakash Javadekar said API, which was resisted by many as research was made compulsory for college teachers, has been scrapped so that they could focus on teaching students. “Now college teachers would not have to mandatorily do research but will have to essentially concentrate and give better education to undergraduate students,” he told reporters here.

The new regulation has a special provision for recruitment of Assistant Professors in Universities and Colleges for Ph.D Degree holders from a University/institution in the top 500 Global rankings. Hindustan Times reported that international rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), the Times Higher Education (THE) or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Shanghai) will be considered for this. Promotion criteria under UGC’s Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) for teachers has been made more research oriented while in case of College teachers, CAS criteria is more focused on teaching, the regulation maintains.  For the first time, the new regulation directs that the provision for promotion in Colleges will be up to Professor level.  It also mandates that research dusters will be created in the Universities within the State for Sharing research facilities, skills and infrastructure to ensure optimal utilization of resources and creating synergies among higher education institutions. UGC had earlier released a draft regulation of Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities & Colleges and measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) 2018 on February 9, which invited criticism from several quarters.  UGC had sought feedback from stakeholders and general public on the Draft Regulation till February 28, 2018.

Other highlights of the regulation

Weightages are assigned for CAS in respect of MOOCs and E-content in Universities and Colleges.
Upto 10% of the existing sanctioned strength of Professors in Universities shalt be appointed as Senior Professors in the Universities.
Senior Professors in Universities will be appointed through direct recruitment and through promotion under CAS.
Universities will accord permission and provide need based facilities to college teachers to supervise Ph.D/M.Phil scholars.
Special category of medal winners in Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in eligibility criteria for Assistant Director/College Director, Physical Education and Sports, and Deputy Director, Physical Education and Sports in Universities has been made to promote sports in Universities and Colleges. – Courtesy

UGC pitches examination reform in higher educational institutions

DECCAN CHRONICLE | Jun 11, 2018 |

Suggestions have been sought from academics, students, controllers of examinations and the general public. The suggestions have to be sent in not more than 150 words for each theme in the prescribed format by June 22 to cflouqc@gmail.com

 

Hyderabad: The UGC has sought suggestions on exam reforms in higher educational institutions. Suggestions have been sought from academics, students, controllers of examinations and the general public. A statement released by the UGC says: “Examination reform is one of the major tasks and a committee has been constituted to recommend and suggest reforms in the examination system.” Suggestions are invited on themes like objectives and models of examination system which can be followed in India, structural and procedural changes needed, grade and credit transfer, moderation procedure, on-demand, internal and external examinations. The suggestions have to be sent in not more than 150 words for each theme in the prescribed format by June 22 to cflouqc@gmail.com.  /   UGC Circular – Published on 07-06-2018 – 2 pages, pdf – UGC Letter reg.: Examination reforms in the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Freshers in all universities to undergo induction programmes in line with IITs

Hindustan Times | Jun 04, 2018 | HT Correspondent |  New Delhi |

Freshers joining universities across the country will undergo an induction programme similar to one followed by IITs, according to the UGC Quality Mandate issued on Monday.

Freshers joining universities across the country will undergo an induction programme similar to one followed by IITs, according to the UGC Quality Mandate issued on Monday. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the mandate for universities across the country and is looking to strives to achieve the objectives set in the mandate by 2022. Under the mandate, students will undergo an induction programme before they start their sessions. The commission has also given a go-ahead to introducing a learning outcome-based curriculum framework which will also require revision of curriculum at regular intervals. In addition to this, under examination reforms, institutions will test a student’s understanding of a concept, and they way that knowledge is applied. The progress of students will also be tracked after the completion of their course in order to build a close association with the institute and to know how they are progressing, officials said.

“Social and industry connect for every institution: every institution shall adopt at least 5 villages for exchange of knowledge and for the overall social/economic betterment of the village communities,” reads the quality mandate document.  The commission has also asked higher educational institutions to improve the graduate outcomes for the students, so that at least 50% of them secure access to employment/self-employment or engage themselves in pursuit of higher education. Institutes have also been asked to ensure that teacher vacancies do not exceed 10% of the sanctioned strength; and all the teachers are oriented with the latest and emerging trends in their respective domains of knowledge and pedagogies . – Courtesy   /   UGC Circular : Published on 04-06-2018,  UGC Letter reg.: UGC Quality Mandate for improving quality in Higher Educational Institutions, 3 pages, pdf

UGC Circular on Quality Mandate

‘UGC, AICTE merger may not come about till 2019’

Times of India | IANS |  Jun 1, 2018 |

NEW DELHI: The proposed merger of the two apex bodies for higher education – the UGC and the AICTE – may not come about before 2019 as it has been shelved till the Narendra Modi government gets a majority in the upper house of Parliament, an informed source has said. The Human Resource Development Ministry had last year proposed to fuse the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) into the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA).  A ministry source however told IANS that since the establishing HEERA will require approval in both houses of Parliament, the government may wait till it has majority in the Rajya Sabha. “This is one of the political factors. Apart from this, the framework of the body is still being worked upon. But the idea of bringing it before the Parliament has been postponed for now,” the source said. The proposed agency may have two Vice Chairpersons to look after the work which at present come under the UGC and the AICTE.  UGC is a statutory body established to accord degrees and grants and to set up quality benchmarks for the higher education institutes, while AICTE, also a statutory body, came up to oversee setting up of technical institutes and their quality.  – Courtesy

UGC scraps 100% weight for interview in PhD, MPhil, brings in test

The Indian Express | Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | May 25, 2018 |

The University Grants Commission on Thursday scrapped oral interviews, or viva voce, as the sole criterion for admission to Ph.D and M.Phil programmes.

Representational Image

ROLLING BACK the controversial selection rule for research students, the University Grants Commission (UGC) on Thursday scrapped oral interviews, or viva voce, as the sole criterion for admission to Ph.D and M.Phil programmes. The higher education regulator has amended the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil/ Ph.D Degree) Regulations 2016 to give 70 per cent weightage to performance in the written entrance test and 30 per cent to the oral interview for the final selection of a candidate, The Indian Express has learnt. The Commission has also permitted relaxation of five percentage points in the minimum marks to be scored in the written test by SC, ST and OBC candidates. So, while a general candidate will have to secure at least 50 per cent in the entrance examination to qualify for the interview or viva voce, a candidate from the reserved category will have to score 45 per cent.

In 2016, the UGC had introduced a new regulation to streamline the process for admission to Ph.D and M.Phil programmes across all educational institutions. These rules barred universities from offering Ph.D programmes in distance education mode. The UGC notification also made entrance exams mandatory for admission and stipulated that aspirants would have to score at least 50 per cent in the written test to qualify for the interview, on the basis of which the final selection would be done. In other words, the rules gave 100 per cent weightage to viva voce for admission. The entrance test was only qualifying in nature. Before this, universities did not follow a uniform policy for admissions. While some institutions factored in a candidate’s performance both in the written test and the interview for final selection, there were others who granted admission only on the basis of the former. The new regulation sparked widespread protests by SC, ST and OBC students, who felt that allowing interviews to be the deciding factor for admission could abet discrimination. This rule, they said, put students from marginalised sections, who may not have strong communication skills, at a disadvantage. Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) probably saw the strongest student agitation on the new research admission rules. In addition to the clause on written test and interviews, another contentious provision of the new regulation angered the student and teacher community in JNU — the cap on the number of Ph.D students a teacher can supervise.

According to the new rules, a professor cannot guide more than three M.Phil and eight Ph.D scholars, an associate professor a maximum of two M.Phil and six Ph.D scholars, and an assistant professor not more than one M.Phil and four Ph.D scholars. Since JNU had already exceeded the cap by a huge margin, it led to a big cut in its intake last year. This cap remains unchanged, said sources. On Thursday, the UGC approved the establishment of an inter-university centre for yogic sciences in Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bengaluru, a deemed university founded by H R Nagendra, who is also Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s yoga consultant. The Commission has passed a budget of over Rs 100 crore for the same. The Commission also approved new regulations that permit educational institutions to offer graduate, post-graduate and diploma programmes online. It also agreed to recommend regularisation of the Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Shibpur off-campus centres of Narsee Monjee Institute of Studies and the Hyderabad and Noida off-campus centres of the Pune-based Symbiosis International to the HRD Ministry.

BOX IN TURN

Autonomy to 9 more Universities

THE UGC granted autonomy to nine more deemed universities on Thursday. While TIFR in Mumbai, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi, and Bharati Vidyapeeth in Pune were among those given autonomy under Category I, BITS-Pilani and SRM Institute of Technology and Science in Chennai were granted autonomy under Category II. The graded autonomy regulation gives institutions the freedom to start new courses, new departments, off-campus centres, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, admit foreign students, pay variable incentive packages to their teachers and enter into academic collaboration with top 500 universities of the world without seeking UGC’s permission. – Courtesy

UGC allows top universities and colleges to offer online degree courses

Deccan herald | Prakash Kumar | DH News Service, New Delhi | May 24 2018 |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the UGC (Online Courses) regulations for degrees in non-technical disciplines. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the UGC (Online Courses) regulations for degrees in non-technical disciplines. (Representative image) In a landmark reform, universities and higher educational institutions from this academic session will be able to offer graduate, postgraduate and diploma programmes online in non-technical disciplines. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved the UGC (Online Courses) regulations for such degrees. The regulations will be made applicable from the academic session 2018-19, the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The higher education institutions, which have been in existence for at least five years and are accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a valid minimum score of 3.26 on a 4-point scale will be eligible to start online courses. Institutions willing to offer online courses under the UGC regulations should also be listed in the top-100 in overall category in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) for at least two years, a UGC official said.

However, NAAC and NIRF conditions shall not be applicable to existing government open universities till NAAC or similar accreditation system or NIRF are made available. The move is aimed at increasing the gross enrollment ratio (GER) in higher education from the current 25.2% to at least 30% by 2022. As per the regulations, the higher educational institutions can offer certificate, diploma and degree programmes in full-fledged online mode in only those disciplines in which it has already been offering the same or similar programmes or courses at graduation level in regular mode of classroom teaching or in open and distance learning mode, the official said. Online programmes requiring practicals or laboratory courses as a curricular requirement shall not be permitted. The examinations of the students to be enrolled in the online courses will be conducted in proctored mode and in conformity with any norms for such examinations stipulated by the Commission. The online learning shall have minimum four quadrants: video lectures, e-content, self-assessment and discussion forum to clarify doubts, the official added. Aadhaar and Passport shall be used to authenticate the Indian and foreign students respectively for all online interactions including teaching-learning and examinations. The learners engagement will be monitored via participation in asynchronous or synchronous discussions, assignment activity and programme involvement. The analytics of learning management system shall be used for ensuring the learners participation at least for two hours every fortnight, the official added. UGC Online course. – Courtesy