Six universities and a technical college in Gujarat have applied for the Centre of Excellence status, which will be awarded for the first time by the state government.
The educational institutes have applied for the status by paying an application fee of Rs 10 lakh along with a security deposit of Rs 5 lakh after the government made changes to the application process.
The institutes which are granted the status will be exempted from the Fee Regulation Committee (technical) and Admission Committee for Professional Courses (ACPC), thus granting them complete autonomy in the admission process and fee regulation.
The institutes that have submitted their applications are Nirma University Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad University, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU) Gandhinagar, Charotar University of Science and Technology (CHARUSAT) Anand, Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT) Gandhinagar, Marwadi University Rajkot and CEPT University Ahmedabad. Barring CEPT University which is an autonomous institute, all others are private institutes.
As defined by the state government, “Centre of Excellence means the colleges, institutions or private universities which impart quality education, path breaking research, innovative teaching methodologies, quality extension services, high employability and entrepreneurship or institutions in Gujarat, setup by such institutes and institutes of strategic or security-related interest as notified by the state government or Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be University as declared by UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities ) Regulations , 2017”.
Based on the feedback sought the state government from private universities, the framework was designed for the application and award selection processes. “The scheme existed earlier, but there were no applicants as it lacked clarity and there were very high chances for the applicants to lose the application fee,” said one of the contenders.
The state government notified the procedure for declaration of ‘Centre of Excellence’ in the official gazette on March 13, 2020.
Speaking about the changes in the application process, Principal Secretary, Education, Anju Sharma said, “While the entire process has been made online, the applicants can now self-evaluate their institute based on the information they feed on the form under different categories to have an idea where do they stand. And only then can deposit the application fee. This option was not there earlier.”
“This is the first time a CoE call has come to which Ahmedabad University has applied,” said Ahmedabad University Vice Chancellor Prof Pankaj Chandra.
Naresh Jadeja, registrar of Marwadi University in Rajkot, which scores an overall 84 per cent in self-evaluation told The Indian Express, “More than the exemption from centralised admissions and fee regulation committee, it will be a recognition from the state government. The efforts and practices adopted by the university will be recognised by the government which might help the institute in the future as the state government would prioritise the CoE status for future assistance or schemes.”
The scrutiny process by the four-member high-level committee will commence on July 20. “Scrutiny of the applications by the committee will start from coming Monday followed by campus visits,” said Director, Technical Education, G T Pandya.
Pandya is the ex-officio member secretary of the committee which will be chaired by a person nominated by the state government selected from former directors of premier institutes or former vice-chancellors or renowned educationists.
The process of awarding CoE is expected to complete within three months of the last date of application which was July 7.
However, there is a provision where the state government can review or revoke the CoE status if it comes to its notice that the said institute has misused the autonomy in the admission process or fee regulation.
Also, if these applicants are not awarded the CoE status, they will not be eligible to apply for the next two calendar years.
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