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P N Tandon committee report on deemed universities, 2009

SC relief to deemed universities
NEW DELHI :
Forty-one deemed universities facing de-recognition got a reprieve on April 19 with the Supreme Court accepting the gradation given by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and approved by the UGC.

The varsities were facing de-recognition on the basis of recommendations by the Tandon committee (see below), which said they were not complying with several norms, including adequate infrastructure.

Following opposition from the institutes, the court had asked the NAAC to take a fresh look at their status.

After a review, the NAAC approved all the varsities except seven. The UGC too accepted its report. The seven varsities could function but need to improve standards, the UGC counsel told the court.

The Apex Court agreed to consider an objection against deemed universities calling themselves as universities, thereby misleading students. A Bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and SK Singh would also go into the validity of such universities having off-campus centres.

The Bench slated July 12 for hearing arguments on the two issues as PIL petitioner Viplav Sharma’s counsel Sanjay Hegde contended that such universities had no right to drop the word “deemed” or run their institutions outside their recognised campuses.

NAAC has graded the deemed universities in three categories: A, B and C. Institutions coming under the C grade would have to be derecognised. The Bench, however, permitted the institutions to appeal against the gradation seeking a higher grade and directed the appellate authority to dispose of such pleas within 12 weeks.

The apex court clarified that only two issues—the use of the word “deemed” and off-campus centres—were yet to be resolved in the case while the status of such universities would be treated as closed.

Initially, 44 deemed universities had faced de-recognition for offering poor quality of education in the wake of the Tandon committee report.

The Tandon committee had assessed the quality of the deemed universities on nine parameters. These include aspects of governance, quality of innovations in teaching and learning processes, research output and its impact, doctoral and other research degree programmes, faculty resources and the admission processes.

The NAAC, in pursuance of the apex court order, has already assessed and accredited 38 deemed universities and granted grade ‘A’ to 17, ‘B’ to 20 and grade ‘C’ to one.

List of damned deemed varsities
NEW DELHI :
The following are the universities which are to be stripped of their deemed status: Vignan’s Foundation for Science, Technology and Research, Guntur; Andhra Pradesh; Lingaya’s University, Faridabad; St Peter’s Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai; Noorul Islam Centre for Higher Education, Kanyakumari; Jaypee Institute of Information
Technology, Noida.

Shobhit Institute of Engineering and Technology, Meerut; Sumandeep Vidyapeet, Vadodara, Gujarat; Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Satara, Maharashtra; D Y Patil Medical College, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, Meenakshi Academy of Higher Education and Research, Chennai.

Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Kanchipuram; HIHT University, Dehradun; Santosh University, Ghaziabad; Maharshi Markandeshwar University, Ambala, Haryana; Manav Rachna International University, Faridabad; Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune; Siksha “O” Anusandha, Bhubaneswar; Janardan Rai Nagar, Udaipur, Rajasthan; Institute of Advanced Studies in Education of Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr, Rajasthan; Mody Institute of Technology, Sikar, Rajasthan; Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, Chennai; Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chennai; Kalasalingam Academy of Research and Education, Virdhunagar, Tamil Nadu.

Periryar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology, Thanjavur; Academy of Maritime Education and Training, Chennai; Vel’s Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies, Chennai; Karpagam Academy of Higher Education, Coimbatore; Vel Tech Rangaraja, Dr Sagunthal R&D Institute of Science, Chennai; Gurukul Kangri, Haridwar; Graphic Era University, Dehradun; Nehru Gram Bharati vishwavidyalaya, Allahabad; Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry; Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu; Bharath Institute of Higher Education & Research, Chennai; Ponnaiya Ramajayam Institute of Science and Technology, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu; Nava Nalanda Mahavira, Nalanda, Bihar; Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu and National Museum, Institute of the History of Art Conservation and Musi cology, Janpath, New Delhi.

CAG casts shadow
on HRD Ministry

NEW DELHI : The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has found irregularities in the conferment of deemed university status to four private institutions found lacking in the minimum eligibility criteria. The CAG findings have thus cast a shadow on the HRD Ministry and UGC.

In its report on Autonomous Bodies tabled in Parliament on May 7, the CAG said the HRD Ministry had unduly granted the ‘confirmed deemed university status’ to Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) in Hyderabad, Manav Rachana International University (MRIU) in Faridabad, Nehru Gram Bharati Vishwavidyalaya (NGBV) in Allahabad and Modi Institute of Education and Research (MIER) in Rajasthan against the recommendation of expert committees.

According to rules, ‘confirmed deemed university status’ is conferred to such institutions which at least have ten years of standing. Institutions offering courses in emerging areas with promises of excellence and at least five years of standing can however be considered for provisional deemed university status under de-novo category.

However, the HRD Ministry conferred confirmed deemed university status to ICFAI in December 2008 despite the expert committee recommending provisional status, the report said. In addition, the AICTE had informed the UGC in January 2006 that ICFAI had been conducting technical programmes without the approval of the council.

However, all these shortcomings were ignored by both the UGC and the HRD Ministry in grant of deemed status, the report said.

In case of MRIU, the Ministry conferred the deemed university status in October 2008 despite the expert committee recommending for provisional status.

The AICTE too had given an adverse report against this institute. Similarly, NGBV and MIER were conferred full-fledged deemed university status against the recommendation of the expert committee for provisional status. When an expert committee recommends for provisional status, it indicates that the institute does not meet the requirements for confirmed deemed University status, the report pointed out.

Tandon's road map to protect students
NEW DELHI : The P N TanP N Tandondon Review Committee, which recommended de-recognition of 44 deemed universities, has also drawn up a road map to protect the interests of the students of the 44 condemned deemed universities.

According to the road map drawn by the P N Tandon Review Committee turned Task Force the students fate was of prime concern.

The Task Force divided the deemed universities broadly into six groups. The first group comprises institutions offering programmes in engineering and technology only. Nearly 20,000 students study in such institutions.

These institutions, which can be re-designated as engineering or technical colleges, can be affiliated to the State Technical Universities or other state universities having corresponding  territorial jurisdiction. The affiliating universities will guide these institutions in correcting aberrations and deficiencies. Students already enrolled with these institutions may continue their academic programmes and receive the degrees from the affiliating universities.

The second group deals with those running courses only in medical and allied fields. Approximately 5,000 to 10,000 students fall under this category. These institutions were originally established as medical or dental colleges. So, they can revert to their earlier status in their respective disciplines by seeking affiliation to the corresponding state medical universities.

The third group pertains to those which run arts, science, commerce, law and management courses alone and there are 2,000 to 3,000 students. These institutions can be affiliated to the state universities having corresponding territorial jurisdiction after meeting the requisite norms and standards for affiliation.

The fourth group, which has the largest strength of students, represents those institutions which offer programmes in several disciplines such as engineering, medicine, arts and science. Around 60,000 to 1 lakh students belong to this group. The institutions can be affiliated to the respective state universities, depending upon disciplines.

The committee has made it clear that fresh admission of students in all these categories of institutions will have to be governed by the norms of the respective affiliating universities.

Some institutions, which originally started in one State but established “off-campus” centres in several locations within the State, in other States and even in foreign countries, belong to the fifth group. They have about 10,000 to 15,000 students. The institutions under this category should be reverted to their original status and affiliated to the corresponding technical, medical or general or open universities within the State concerned. Programmes run in foreign countries have to be affiliated to the respective State university, if permissible under the law governing that university or else, they have to be dealt with under the relevant laws of the host country.

The sixth category refers to those which were established primarily to preserve and promote special areas such as heritage, sports and youth development. A few hundred students are pursuing courses in these institutions, which should seek recognition from an appropriate State or Central university.
 

 

 Stick-&-carrot policy for deemed varsities

By Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI :
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has approved amendments to UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 that would restrict early fee realisation from students but grant relief in land requirement and opening of off-campus centres.  

In the revised regulations to be notified soon, UGC has tightened norms for giving deemed university status to higher educational institutions, made the approval of applications a time-bound process and removed a provision that so far restricted the deemed universities from opening more than six off-shore campuses.

However, the norms for opening off-shore campuses by the deemed universities have been tightened as it would require the institutions to get clearance from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs before opening their campuses abroad.

This will be applicable to all deemed universities, whether run and managed by private entities or run or funded to any extent by the government.

"The deemed universities can collect a maximum Rs 10,000 as counselling fee and the students will pay full tuition fee only at the time of their admission. This has been done to ensure that students do not have to struggle to get refund of their money they deposit as tuition fee from the universities in case they do not get admission. The revised regulations of the UGC have been approved and will soon be notified," HRD Minister Smriti Irani said.

The minister said that applications by higher educational institutions for deemed-to-be-university status will be considered within six to seven months under the revised regulations. Besides, the inspection team will video record the entire infrastructure and other facilities, and upload it on the UGC's website within 24 hours.

Specific timeline

Both the industry and educationists have been complaining of inordinate delay in the processing of applications. Now specific timelines have been assigned at different stages including 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).

The visit of the expert committee, essentially confirmatory of faculty availability and of the quality and infrastructure will be recorded and uploaded on the UGC website within 24 hours.

The revised regulations provide an impetus to accreditation and other measures of quality. Institutions seeking de-novo to apply for Deemed To Be Universities (DTBUs) would need to have the highest NAAC/NBA grading for two cycles or alternatively have the highest NAAC/NBA grading at the time of application and be in the top 20 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

The revised regulations have brought in the Letter of Intent (LOI) concept wherein the applicant, society, trust or Section 8 Company will set up the institution and indicate its readiness for commencement of the academic operations, as per the plan presented and agreed within three years of the issue of LOI. Similar provisions have been made for off-campuses.

Recognizing that the land is a scare and valuable resource, the land requirement has been modified, to focus on the built up area. The earlier specifications in acres of land (5 – 10 acres) have been replaced with the stipulation with the minimum open space should be 40% of the total area, that academic infrastructure should be at least 15,000 sq. m. and that there must be accommodation for students and teachers.

Institutions, under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) can have a credit exchange matrix with other UGC recognized institutions for the benefit of their students.

Keeping in view the need to maintain academic currency and quality in the new provision, it has been mandated that such institutions will review the syllabus every 3 years at least.

The revised regulation makes it mandatory for the institution to have 3 cells – anti-ragging, anti discrimination and gender sensitization as well as an internal complaints committee for prevention of sexual harassment. There will be barrier free access for specially-abled students in all places. There will also be adequate health care facilities for students, staff and faculty within the campus.

In the context of governance, there would be a GoI nominee on the Board of Management for DTBUs only in case it is controlled by the Central Government or receives more than 50% of its funding from the government. In other cases, the UGC will provide nominees from a panel of names recommended by a search committee of academic experts.

Under 2010 regulations, the Chancellors could not be a member of the society, trust or Section 8 Company nor a close relative of its President. In the amended regulations this restriction has been removed.

Industry collaborations and research projects would not need specific approval of the UGC nor would be for new departments in core subjects for which the institution was established. It has been made mandatory for the DTBU to participate in the National Institutions Ranking Framework (NIRF) and in the Know Your College (KYC) portal and mobile app application. Responding to complaints from students, it has been decided that full fee would only be paid at the time of admission, and not during counseling or pre-admission process. No capitation fees will be allowed.

The ceiling of 6 off-campuses has been removed. After 5 years of its establishment, the institution may set up off-campuses provided it has got NAAC ‘A’ accreditation. Similar provisions would apply for off-shore campuses with the additional stipulation that clearance of the MEA and MHA is requested.

Govt nominees on deemed varsity boards

NEW DELHI :  On February 8 the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) notified significant rules to monitor private deemed varsities by nominating education experts on the governing bodies of all private deemed universities.

The rules called UGC (Institutions deemed to be Universities) (Third Amendment) Regulations, 2016 say that a search committee will select 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.

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.

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.

Govt to have proper criteria for deemed varsities

Fom Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI : 
Allowing a surprise relief to deemed universities, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) told the Supreme Court on February 23, 2015 that it proposes to frame criteria to deal with the issue of recognition of private universities in the country.

"The Union of India has taken a decision that the proper criteria or guidelines should be laid down after consulting all the stakeholders so that the issue is settled once and for all," the counsel, appearing for MHRD told a bench of justices Dipak Misra and Vikramjit Sen.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ministry, said that a decision had been taken not to opt for gradation of deemed universities and that there should be an objective criteria to bring about uniformity and to avoid arbitrariness.

He told a Bench of justices Dipak Misra and Vikramajit Sen that the government would consult all the stakeholders including the All India Council for Technical Education, University Grants Commission, National Assessment and Accreditation Council and National Board of Accreditation and come out with new guidelines in three months.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, appearing for UGC said of the 41 deemed universities (which were sought to be de-recognised) physical inspection was conducted in eight of them.

Out of the eight, seven, despite certain deficiencies, can be granted recognition for one more year, he said, adding that the eighth -- Gurukul Kangra Vishwavidyalaya -- lacks teaching and infrastructural facilities.

Senior advocate P H Parekh, appearing for Gurukul Kangra Vishwavidyalaya, said that the government aid has been stopped and moreover, the institution neither has any management quota nor it levies any capitation fees.

"You cannot claim grant as a matter of right," the bench said and asked the university to respond to the Centre's report which would to be filed in the next three weeks.

Senior advocates Rajeev Dhawan and Vikas Singh, appearing for some private universities, said that they are not opposed to the statutory physical verification of the universities by the authorities but the stigma of adverse grading like 'B' and 'C' should must go.

Earlier, the court had rapped the University Grant Commission (UGC) for going into "slumber" over conducting physical verification of infrastructure and faculty strength of deemed universities, which were black-listed by a committee appointed by the Centre.

The remarks were made when ASG Maninder Singh, appearing for UGC, was trying to explain the circumstances for the delay by submitting that there was a need to modify the apex court order as the commission cannot go the way P N Tandon Committee made categorisation of the deemed universities like "A", "B" and "C" depending on the fulfillment of criteria.

UGC had said it can only do the inspection and after seeking response of such universities, place the report with the Centre which has to express its view before the apex court.

The bench on September 26 had ruled out the suggestion of verification through photographs and videography, saying it was not an acceptable mode of determining the credentials.

It had asked UGC to complete within three months the physical verification of 41 deemed universities.

It had said that after completing the procedure of verification and rectification of deficiencies, UGC will file its report both to the Centre and the apex court.

The Supreme Court had earlier last year directed UGC to examine all the reports of the 41 deemed to-be universities and advise the central government.

These universities had gone to the Supreme Court after they were put in the 'C' category in 2009 by P N Tandon Committee, a retired professor of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

After the apex court's direction, UGC had set up a committee under its Vice Chairperson H Devaraj, which heard all the 41 deemed universities separately.

A decision to issue show cause notice was taken for seven such deficient deemed universities by the Centre as to why they should not be denotified. But later it was left to the apex court.

Earlier, 44 deemed universities were found to be unfit for the status by the Tandon committee. However, the number came down to 41 after two of them surrendered the deemed varsity tax, while the third one was converted into a centre of national importance.

SC tells UGC to hurry up on 41 deemed varsities

From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI :
On January 8, 2015 the Supreme Court gave Central government five-weeks' time to submit its report on the status of the 41 deemed universities that had faced de-recognition for offering poor quality of education.

A bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Vikramajit Sen told Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta that the government should go through the recommendations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) on 33 such universities that had already been given to it, keeping in mind all relevant factors, including UGC’s methodology for assessing the educational quality.

“Why are you moving at snail’s pace? You are a statutory body but unfortunately you are not doing your statutory duty,” the court told Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the UGC.

The Bench asked the UGC to submit to the government within four weeks its recommendations on eight more deemed universities whose infrastructure, including faculty members, was physically verified by it through inspections at the instance of the apex court. The Centre would get just one week for giving its views on these eight reports.

The court was peeved at the way the UGC had determined the standard of education imparted by these educational institutions, merely going by the photographs and videographs submitted by them instead of undertaking inspections.

The Bench made it clear that the Centre should give adequate importance to the UGC reports based on physical verification. It was hearing a PIL by an advocate Viplav Sharma, taking exception to the mushrooming of 132 deemed universities as a result of indiscriminate conferment of such status on colleges without properly assessing them.

In the wake of the PIL, the Centre had set up the Prof PN Tandon panel to re-assess their quality. The panel had suggested de-recognition of 44 deemed universities, forcing them to approach the SC and obtain a status quo order, pending a decision on their contention that only UGC had the power to recommend their de-recognition. Subsequently, three of them surrendered their deemed status and became colleges affiliated to state universities.

Appearing for the PIL petitioner, advocate Santosh Hegde pleaded for physical verification of all the 41 deemed universities, instead of restricting the inspections only to the eight institutions that had approached the SC as they had put under “C” category based on the assessment done by photographs and videographs.

The SC Bench slated the next hearing for February 23 for considering the Centre’s report on these 41 institutions.

Regulations 2010 on deemed varsities quashed

From Our Correspondent
BANGALORE
: On May 22, 2014 the vacation bench of the High Court of Karnataka quashed the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations 2010, terming it ‘unconstitutional and invalid.’

The bench also quashed the circular issued by the UGC in 2010-11 asking all existing deemed-to-be universities to comply with the new regulations.

The petitioners - JSS, Siddhartha, KLE, BLDE, Devaraj Urs, Manipal, Yenepoya and Symbiosis Universities - had challenged the constitutionality and legality of the Regulation. They had argued that if a vice-chancellor from outside is appointed then that person would have the powers to nominate three academicians to the board and this would take away the powers vested with the management.

The Regulation would also enable persons to interfere in the administration and admission process of private unaided institutions, which was against the Supreme Court directions in the TMA Pai Foundation case.

The Union government and the UGC had argued that the Regulations 2010 was aimed at bringing transparency, accountability and quality in deemed  universities as they "are run by private trusts, usually by family members and friends. However, the petitioners said that under the guise of Regulations, the Centre was virtually seeking to wrest control of these institutions.

Justice Anand Byrareddy, who allowed the petition, said in his order: “The UGC abdicated its power and it seems that it’s not even the author of these regulations.” The judge said that 47 regulation was against the Supreme Court’s verdicts in TMA Pai Foundation, PA Inamdar and other cases, as it would dilute the managements’ control in admission and fee fixation.

Interference either by the UGC or the Union government in these processes of private unaided and minority educational institutions through the regulation is impermissible, the High Court said.

Pointing out that it was not the UGC that authored the regulation but the Ministry concerned, the High Court said that by such an action, the UGC had abdicated its discretion to frame regulations, and hence the regulation was also in violation of Section 26 of the UGC Act.

UGC move to bail out damned deemed varsities

By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI
: Under pressure, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended a fresh inspection and review of 44 deemed universities that were found unfit by a government committee in 2009.

The move is expected to bail out 44 deemed universities dubbed “unworthy” and put in the “C” category by the P.N. Tandon panel, which had called for them to be stripped of the “deemed university” status immediately. The 44 deemed varsities had moved the Supreme Court, where the case is still lingering on.

In January last year, the apex court had directed the Centre to seek UGC's comments on the Tandon panel’s recommendations. It said that the commission should take a stand after examining the Tandon findings, the commission’s own review report of 2009, the report of an officers’ committee in 2011, and the response of each of the 44 institutions.

At the end of a three-day meeting of all its members last year, the commission concluded that there is a lot of discrepancy between the findings of the various reports. So, it has decided on fresh inspections, multiple sources in the commission and the Union Human Resource Development Ministry said.

While the Tandon panel found the performance of these institutions unsatisfactory on nine parameters, including teaching and research, the commission’s 2009 report had rated these institutions as performing at the expected level.

In their responses to the Tandon findings, all the 44 institutions have claimed that they have improved their infrastructure and standards of research and teaching and pleaded that their deemed university status not be withdrawn.

A senior commission official said: “The commission members felt that there was no unanimity in the findings of the reviews. So, withdrawing the deemed tag from 44 institutions on the strength of just one report would not be fair.”
This stand will be conveyed to the ministry, which will place it in the Supreme Court before the next hearing.

The Tandon committee had examined 126 deemed universities and found 44 of them “unworthy”. These institutions had scored less than 15 out of 45.
It had found 44 others deficient on many counts and put them in the “B” category. The performances of 38 were found satisfactory.

SC grants more time to damned deemed varsities

By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI
: On January 21 last year the Supreme Court granted two months’ lease of life to 44 deemed universities who were indicted by the two inquiry committees. 

The apex court bench. comprising Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Vikramjit Sen passed the order while disposing of a 2006 PIL seeking de-recognition of the 44 deemed universities on the ground that they did not meet the standards fixed for the “deemed” status.  

The PIL alleged that the deemed universities were only money-spinners and treated as personal fiefs by their owners, with scant concern for academic excellence. 

In its order the bench granted the University Grants Commission (UGC) two months to decide whether the damned universities planned to be de-recognised by the Centre should be allowed to continue. It, however, clarified that while the recommendations of the UGC on their status were “not binding” on the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) it must give “due weightage” to its opinion. 

According to the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010, the MHRD and the UGC can carry out an inspection of the institutions deemed to be a university. 

The MHRD had moved to withdraw their recognition, based on reports of two inquiry committees, after which the deemed universities challenged the MHRD’s powers to take action and argued that only the UGC could do so. 

In its order the court said the UGC should give due prior notices to the universities on their alleged failure to meet standards and hear their explanations. The commission should also examine the reports of all panels. 

The bench said : “We feel it appropriate to give a direction to the UGC to examine all the reports, with notice to all the 44 institutions concerned. Institutions are free to raise their objections against the reports and the UGC has to consider the same and take an independent decision in accordance with law, if necessary, after affording a hearing, within a period of two months.” 

Once that is done, the court said the UGC must “tender its advice” to the MHRD. “Needless to say that the advice of the UGC is not binding on the Union of India but (it) has to be given due weight since the UGC is an expert statutory authority.” 

The court clarified that it was not ruling on the merits of any of the reports. “We make it clear that we have not given our stamp of approval to any of the reports and it is for the UGC to consider all the reports, with notice to the 44 institutions, in accordance with the law,” Justice Radhakrishnan, writing the order, said. 

In their appeals, the varsities have argued that the power to de-recognise them vested in the UGC and not in the Centre. The court has, however, so far refrained from deciding who has the powers to take such action. 

The ministry had earlier told the court that one of the panels, Tandon Committee, examined the functioning of various institutions and found that the 44 did not satisfy any of the requirements. The ministry had also said it would put in place a mechanism to ensure that the future of the students was not affected. 

“We have now two parallel inquiries, one conducted by the UGC directly and another conducted by the Central government through Tandon. But we find that UGC had no occasion to examine the Tandon Committee report. Further, we also notice that there is another report of the Committee of officers, which has also not been placed before the UGC,” the bench noted. 

The 44 institutions were tested on nine parameters. These included conformity with UGC guidelines, governance, innovations in teaching, research output, faculty and admission processes. 

The Tandon Committee had initially examined all 126 deemed universities in the country and classified them into A, B and C categories. The 44 varsities fell in category C, which signified the worst performance requiring revocation of recognition. It was suggested that those in the other two categories could continue. 

In its report to the Human Resources Ministry, P N Tandon, emeritus professor of neuro-surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, and comprising Goverdhan Mehta, a former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Anandakrishnan, former vice chancellor of Anna Technical University, Chennai; and Prof Mrinal Miri, former vice chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, made the de-recognition recommendation of these universities. 

The panel had reportedly indicted the 44 varsities for “thoughtless introduction” of new study programmes beyond their mandate and failing to engage in any meaningful research activity. 

During the hearing, government counsel submitted that no final decision has been taken by the central government, either on the basis of the report of the UGC or that of Prof Tandon’s report. Different senior counsel, representing those varsities, submitted that they had complied with the statutory requirements laid down under the Medical Council of India Act, Dental Council of India Act, and others.

Deemed varsities bite uniform accounting bait

By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI :
On June 25, 2013 the vice-chancellors of various Deemed Universities agreed in principle to accept the uniform accounting standards devised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and gave a reluctant nod to Kapil Sibal's single test engineering admission plan.

The meeting was held here under the Chairmanship of Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Kapil Sibal on June 25 to brief the VCs about the Joint Entrance Examination and to appeal to them to implement uniform accounting standards.

In his inaugural address, the minister suggested setting up of a Council for all the deemed universities to co-ordinate matters of common interest with representation of Vice Chancellors, prominent academicians and UGC/MHRD.

The minister explained the concept of the proposed JEE and invited them to  join it. Deemed universities, he said, would be free to choose appropriate weightage for Class XII Boards and JEE MAIN/ AIEEE normalised on percentile basis. Those wanting to give 100% weightage to Class XII Board marks performance for admission were also welcome.

At present, several deemed universities conduct their own entrance tests, while some adopt AIEEE scores and the rest take state Common Entrance Exam results.

Sibal clarified that their involvement will not affect the management quota as also reservation for the weaker sections of the society. Top HRD officials from technical and higher education department were also present in the meeting.

The second presentation was on adoption of uniform accounting  standards in all deemed universities. It was decided to organize the Capacity Building Programme, on uniform accounting standards through UGC and its adoption by deemed universities in collaboration with ICAI. A standard e-package of the accounting system would be provided to all the educational institutions including deemed universities.

UGC Regulations for Deemed University

SC allows more time to damned deemed varsities

NEW DELHI : On April 11, 2013 the Supreme Court once again allowed the 44 condemned deemed universities to have their way. It allowed them to enjoy their deemed university status till July 19 thereby allowing them to go ahead with admissions for the 2011-12 session.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma posted the hearing for July 19, 2013, extending till then its order restraining the government on an objection raised by one of the institutions, the J R N Rajasthan Vidyapeeth deemed university, contending that Sunil Kumar IAS was the Convenor of the P N Tandon Committee, which had recommended the de-recognition of these institutions after finding that they lacked proper faculty and infrastructural facilities.

The apex court also effectively eliminated the role of the Tandon Committee in the process of re-assessment by directing the A.S. Thakur committee to hear the 44 institutions and submit its report to the government, which in turn would prepare “a reasoned report” and hand it over to the court for deciding their status.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaisingh, appearing for the Centre, had sought three months additional time - one month for the Thakur committee to hear the 44 institutions, another to finalise its recommendations and a further one month for the government to prepare its report based on the panel’s recommendations.

The Thakur committee comprising Additional Secretary A.S. Thakur (Technical Education), Sunil Kumar, Additional Secretary (Higher Education) and N.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary (Technology Enabled Learning) was given six weeks to submit its inspection report to the government and further four weeks were allowed to the ministry to submit a report to the court.
 
Meanwhile, the bench directed that the government should exclude Mr Sunil Kumar from the committee of the HRD ministry probing into the case as he himself had declined to be a member of the panel.

MHRD secys to hear 44 deemed varsities' plea

From Our Correspondent
NEW DELHI
: Three additional secretaries of the Union Human Resource Development Ministry have been deputed to hear each of the 44 deemed universities found unfit to retain the deemed university status so that the ministry could prepare a report for the apex court which was to hear the case on April 25, 2013.

Additional Secretary A.S. Thakur (Technical Education) would head the team while Sunil Kumar, Additional Secretary (Higher Education) and N.K. Sinha, Additional Secretary (Technology Enabled Learning) would be the members of the team.

The team has been set up on the orders of the Supreme Court (on January 11, 2013) which said that the damned 44 deemed universities deserve a chance to be heard before their deemed university status is scrapped.

The Ministry issued notices to the universities and their response was forwarded to the review team. Each institution was individually heard by the three-member team of officials which prepared a reasoned report and, thereafter prepared a comprehensive report, which was submitted to the Supreme Court.

A review committee comprising P.N. Tandon, Mrinal Miri, Goverdhan Mehta and Anandakrishnan had reviewed the deemed-to-be-universities and divided them in three categories.

As many as 44 such universities were found unfit to become deemed university on an aggregate assessment.

Backgrounder : SC relief to 44 doomed varsities

NEW DELHI : In a major relief to over two lakh students, the Supreme Court directed the Union Human Resource Development Ministry on January 25 2013 to maintain “status quo” on its decision on the 44 condemned deemed universities till the matter was taken up for further hearing on March 8, 2010.

“We shall not pass any ex parte orders,” a two-judge bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari said. “They (the institutions) will be heard. No student or institution’s interests will be affected,” it added, issuing notices to to all 44 deemed universities to present their case and fixing the next hearing for March 8, 2010.

Hearing arguments in Viplav Sharma vs Union of India case the bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik said that till then “status quo” will be maintained on the government order, which means the HRD Ministry’s order will be in suspended animation.

The institutions face de-recognition after P N Tandon committee report slammed them for poor performance and bad management. The committee said that they were being run as family fiefs rather than on academic considerations.

Acting on the recommendations, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had said on January 18 that it was planning to withdraw the deemed status to the 44 institutions — which were among the 126 that had been granted such a tag by former HRD minister Arjun Singh.

The court directed the Attorney-General, Mr Goolam E. Vahanvati, to place before it the report of the task force set up by the HRD minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, to examine the functioning of 126 deemed universities as well as the report of the review committee as the ministry had acted on the recommendations of these two panels.

It further directed Mr Vahanvati to submit an affidavit on the steps the ministry proposed to take to safeguard the interests of over two lakh students of these 44 deemed universities.

This order, with multiple directions, came after a battery of the country’s top legal brains, appearing for different deemed universities, assailed the MHRD action, citing several “loopholes”. The court was hearing a pending PIL by advocate Viplav Sharma, challenging the grant of deemed university status to several institutions by the former HRD minister, Mr Arjun Singh, in a “reckless” manner.

Senior advocates — Mr Fali S. Nariman, Mr K. Parasaran, Mr K.K. Venugopal, Mr Rajiv Dhawan and others took on the government, saying it had acted merely on the reports of the task force and review committee despite these bodies having no statutory status, while recommendations of the University Grants Commission, a statutory body, were overlooked.

Assuring students and the universities, the bench said: “Presently our anxiety is what will happen to all those students. Public interest is paramount. When the matter is before court, the government cannot do anything. We ourselves want to look into it. If there is any violation of the principles of natural justice, we will look into it. Rest assured, nothing will
happen to your institutions and your students till we dispose the matter.”

Appearing for the MHRD, Vahanvati sought two weeks to file a comprehensive reply on the issue. He said the government was fully conscious of the uncertainties that the students studying in these universities might face.

The Arguments

“It is the UGC, a statutory body, which recommends whether such status is granted or taken away,” said senior lawyer Rajeev Dhavan. “It cannot be taken away on the recommendation of a non-statutory body,” he said, speaking on behalf of one of the institutions.

Others pointed out that the 44 deemed universities set to lose their status had been praised by the UGC. The court then directed the government to produce the reports of the UGC, the Tandon panel and the task force set up to implement the Tandon committee proposals.

Tremors in Higher Education

After a gap of five years country's Higher Education sector experienced  another set of tremors on January 18, 2013 -- like the ones experienced after the Chattisgarh universities case judgement in which 112 private universities were scrapped by the Supreme Court in one go.

The new tremors were caused by Human Resource Development Ministry's decision to banish 44 deemed universities (listed above) owned by powerful politicians and influential businessmen in the country.

On January 18 the MHRD under, Mr Kapil Sibal, in a virtual rebuff to his predecessor, Mr Arjun Singh's policy of conferring "deemed university" status to 126 institutions, submitted in the Supreme Court that only 36 institutions were fully qualified to be upgraded while 44 "deemed universities" have "abysmal" infrastructure facilities and that their deemed university status needs to be withdrawn.

In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in Viplav Sharma vs Union of India case, the government submitted the  P N Tandon committee report, which lists 44 erring institutions for de-recognition. Of these, the highest 16 are in Tamil Nadu, followed by 6 in Karnataka, 4 in Uttar Pradesh, 3 each in Haryana and Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, and one each in Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and New Delhi.

Of the deficient institutions, 41 are privately managed, and three are government funded, including Nava Nalanda Mahavihara in Nalanda, Bihar; Rajiv Gandhi National Youth Development Institute, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu; and National Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology, New Delhi.

The de-recognition move, if it comes through following the SC intervention, would affect the futures of over 2 lakh students, with 2,03,322 currently pursuing courses with the erring institutions. Accordingly, the task force constituted to implement the committee recommendations has said that the erring universities could seek affiliation to the state university of their jurisdiction to enable students to complete courses. “Existing colleges not found suitable to continue should revert to their status as affiliated college of the state university of jurisdiction to enable the students to finish courses and obtain degrees,” the task force said.

It has further advised the government to make every effort to facilitate migration or re-enrolment of the students to equivalent courses in other institutions in case their own institution, after losing its deemed tag, is unable to attain affiliation of the state university concerned.

The government counsel told Justices Dalveer Bhandari and A.K. Patnaik that while approving deemed university status to only 36 institutions, 44 others had been put on "watch list" for three years to see whether they improve their standard, infrastructure and teaching facilities.

The universities run by some of the top guns in Tamil Nadu, such as Union minister S. Jagathrakshakan, AIADMK Lok Sabha member M. Thambidurai and the Dravida Kazhagam leader K. Veeramani have been recommended for withdrawal of the "deemed university" status by the ministry, as the state earned the dubious distinction of earning the "highest score" of 16 of its
varsities in the national `black-list' of 44.

The 44 institutions which will lose their deemed varsity status have violated the guidelines prescribing excellence in teaching and research or innovations, and introduced unrelated degree programmes beyond the mandate of the grant of the status, the MHRD council told the court.

In the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the MHRD said that the Prof. P N Tandon Committee found that with the notable exception of some publicly funded institutions, none of them could produce evidence of quality research, going by publications in leading journals.

Many institutions, which attained the deemed university status from being colleges, increased their intake disproportionately and, in some cases, exponentially in relation to the qualified faculty strength and academic infrastructure. Several institutions prescribed fees considerably higher than that recommended by official committees.

The decision on according affiliation to and registering students enrolled in the 44 institutions with the relevant State university for the purpose of award of degrees would be taken up in consultation with the State governments.

Regarding foreign institutions, the affidavit said: “The Centre is in the process of finalising a legislative proposal for regulating the entry and operations of foreign education providers and the same has to be introduced in Parliament after obtaining necessary approval within the government.”

The Centre was awaiting the final report of the Task Force on the draft regulations submitted by the University Grants Commission for declaring institutions deemed universities. The guidelines, after consideration by the Centre, would be conveyed to the UGC for being notified, the affidavit said.

 

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