Deemed universities may no longer need government’s nod before starting either an off-campus or an off-shore centre, if the University Grants Commission (UGC) were to accept some of the changes proposed by the HRD Ministry in the ‘Deemed to be Universities Regulations 2016’.
The incumbent government, in its bid to liberalise higher education, has suggested over 30 changes to the regulation, which was revised recently after the BJP came to power at the Centre. The proposal, sources said, is being deliberated by the Commission.
Deemed-to-be-university is an accreditation awarded by UGC to a higher education institution that enjoy the status and privileges of a university.
Under the current regulation, deemed universities have to fulfill a host of conditions before being permitted to establish an off-campus or a off-shore centre. For instance, the institution should have had the ‘deemed tag’ for at least five years, should offer postgraduate programmes, have adequate financial resources for starting the centre and seek prior approval of the Centre.
All of the above conditions have been replaced by one in the proposal — a deemed university can start an off-campus/off-shore centre, provided it has secured either the highest rating from NAAC or has had two-third of its courses accredited with the highest grade by NBA and, also, figures within the top 100 institutions of the country in the National Institute Ranking Framework.
The proposal is significant against the backdrop of the frequent run-ins many deemed universities had with UGC over government nod for their off-campus centres. In 2015, 10 deemed universities were issued notices to explain why their off-campus centres should not be wound up by the Commission for not being started with government’s prior approval. BITS Pilani and BIT Mesra were among the 10 institutions put on notice and that conflict hasn’t been resolved yet.
Apart from the above, the ministry has also proposed the following changes:
* The government wants a new provision that mandates that a deemed university should have at least 5,000 students on roll and not less than 250 regular
* Currently, an institution, to be eligible for deemed tag, should be accredited by NAAC or NBA continuously for three cycles. Ministry wants to reduce it to two cycles.
* A deemed university is expected to have adequate number of full-time fully qualified faculty. Government wants UGC to replace this with a specified teacher-student ratio of 1:20
* Ministry wants the provision that mandates a government representative on the board of Management to be deleted.
* Currently, a provision states that no deemed university shall demand, charge or accept capitation fee or donation for admission. The government has proposed that this should be removed.
* The clause that states that an institution applying for deemed university status should not have violated any UGC rule in the period of 5 years before application should also be deleted, according to the ministry’s suggestions
* As per the regulations, UGC can direct any upward revision of the deemed university’s corpus. Ministry also wants this done away with.