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No Student Of Failed Deemed University Will Suffer, Assures Sibal

In a bid to assuage students thrown into uncertainty, government on Tuesday made it clear that not a single student of any failed deemed university would be affected and indicated scrapping of granting such status
PTI January 20, 2010 19:20 IST

In a bid to assuage students thrown into uncertainty, government on Tuesday made it clear that not a single student of any failed deemed university would be affected and indicated scrapping of granting such status in future.

"Not a single child, not a single student will be adversely affected. Students of that university will get a university degree," HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said addressing the Social Editors Conference in Delhi.

He was replying to a question as to what would happen to the future of the students of 44 deemed universities that have been recommended for being stripped of the status by an expert committee whose report has been accepted by the government.

Nearly two lakh students are pursuing higher studies in these 44 institutions in 13 states which have been recommended for non-continuation of the deemed status as neither on past performance nor on their promise for the future have the attributes to retain the deemed status.

"We are restructuring the higher education sector. Hopefully, the deemed university concept will go," he said. Sibal said not a single deemed university has been de-recognized so far.

"The Government has accepted the findings of the expert committee and submitted its findings to the Supreme Court which will decide the course of action to be taken," he said.

"The Supreme Court will decide the course of action...we will take care of all the students (of the deemed universities)," Sibal said.

An expert committee headed by P N Tandon has reviewed the functioning of 126 of the 130 deemed universities. It has found 44 deemed universities unworthy for the status.

Asked whether the unfit 44 deemed universities would be reverted to the status of college, he said, "I do not want to preempt what the Supreme Court will decide."

The matter will come before the Supreme Court on January 25.

"Not a single student's interest will be jeopardised. University degree will be given to them," he said, allaying any fear among the students and their parents.

 The committee has found the failed deemed universities were being run as family fiefdoms rather than on academic considerations. The committee found 44 other such institutes having deficiencies and suggested that they should be given three years time to rectify. It found 38 others as up to mark.

 The government had set up a task force to suggest measures for implementing the recommendations of the committee. The task force said the failed deemed universities would be allowed to go back as affiliated colleges of their original universities.

 Sibal said the government has started the process of reforms in higher education. Under the reforms, it will create a National Council for Higher Education as an overarching body which will subsume existing regulatory institutions like UGC, AICTE, DEC and NCTE.

Under the new regime in higher education, the concept of deemed university could be abolished.

Sibal outlined the proposed bills for setting up of an accreditation body and having special tribunals for deciding matters related to disputes in campuses and having a law to check malpractices in institutes.

He said the country needs 30,000 to 40,000 more colleges and nearly 1,000 universities to achieve the target of 30 per cent enrolment rate in higher education by 2030. The present enrolment rate is 12.4 per cent.

Sibal harped on reforms of education at school level to ensure that education becomes child centric.

"The reforms will focus on making the education child centric. The child should be able to study as per his liking. The contents need change. Children should get high moral value," he said.

Sibal said the exam should test the real talent of the student rather than testing the memorising abilities.

 Sibal said the focus of the universities should be centres of research rather than affiliating institutions. "Research creates knowledge," he said.

He said the government wants to introduce a series of vocational courses at senior secondary level to help students pursue their courses of choice.

Asked about the exorbitant fees changed by institutes, he said the government is in the process of expanding the higher education sector in bag way.

"Certain institute charge high fees because of the gap between demand and supply. We have started expanding the higher education sector which will take care of the problem of demand and supply. The government will set up a funding corporation for providing loans to needy students," he said.

The results of the reforms will be felt in next three to four years, Sibal said.

"Never in the history of the country, the focus on education has been so sharp," he added.

The ministry's decision amounts to an acknowlegement of irregularties in conferring the "deemed" tag to these institutions under the first UPA government in which Arjun Singh was the HRD minister, reports Times of India. 

The 44 "deemed" universities, including one promoted by I&B minister of state S Jagathrakshakan, three government-sponsored ones, and some in the NCR, such as Manav Rachna, Shobit and Santosh, are spread across the country. These deemed universities were found deficient on many grounds -- ranging from lack of infrastructure to lack of evidence of expertise in disciplines they claim to specialize in. 

The big step was taken after clearance from the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and is also an indictment of the manner in which the "deemed" status was doled out during the tenure of the last HRD minister, Arjun Singh. 

Although the list includes many that were given deemed status during Murli Manohar Joshi's time, the list of those red-pencilled indicates how during Arjun Singh's tenure, the "deemed" status was virtually up for grabs. 

The HRD ministry emphasized that the affected students would be taken care of. The ministry's task force has recomended that institutions not found fit for deemed university status "revert to status quo ante as an affiliated college of the state university of jurisdiction so that students would be able to complete their ongoing courses and obtain degree from the affiliating university." Similarly, medical and dental colleges not found suitable can affiliate to state university or state medical university. 

In case, the institution is unable to obtain affiliation, efforts would be made to facilitate the migration/re-enrolment of the affected students in other institutions. Doctoral students will have to re-register in affiliating universities and those in distance education should either go to IGNOU or state open universities. While these safeguards have been recommended, the students are nonetheless likely to go through a phase of uncertainty as they move from one university to another. 

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in the Viplav Sharma vs Union of India case, the HRD ministry said the review committee found only 38 institutes fit to have the deemed university status. Another 44 were found "deficient" in some aspects which need to be rectified over the next three years. With Supreme Court likely to approve HRD's action, it is unlikely that government will have to face any litigation. 

These 44 deemed universities have 1,19,363 students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. In addition, there are 2,124 students pursuing research at MPhil and PhD levels and another estimated 74,808 students pursuing distance education programmes. As many as 41 of the 44 deemed universities have several constitutent institutions under them, which would further swell the number of affected students. 

Tamil Nadu has the distinction of having 16 of the 44 derecognized deemed universities, 15 of them private and one government-sponsored. Among those found undeserving of deemed status in Tamil Nadu is Bharath Institute of Higher Education & Research -- with six constituent institutions -- run by S Jagatharakshakan, MoS information & broadcasting. 

Karnataka has six derecognized deemed universities; Uttar Pradesh four; Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Maharashtra three each; Gujarat, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, one each. The three government-run institutions to be de-recognized are Nava Nalanda Mahavira in Bihar, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Tamil Nadu, and National Museum Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology, New Delhi. 

The HRD ministry's review committee found following glaring omissions in case of 44 deemed universities: 

* Undesirable management structure where families rather than professional academics controlled the functioning

* Several institutions had violated the principles and guidelines prescribing excellence in teaching and research and were engaged in introduction of thoughtless programmes

* Little evidence of noticeable efforts in case of emerging areas of knowledge

* Little evidence of commitment towards research

* Institutions increased their intake capacity disproportionately

* Undergraduate and post-graduate courses were fragmented with concocted nomenclatures

* Higher fee structure than prescribed

Following is the list of Deemed Universities which are to be de-recognized: 

1. Vignan's Foundation for Science, Technology and Research, Guntur AP
2. St Peter's Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai
3. Noorul Islam Centre for Higher Education, Kanyakumari, TN
4. Sumandeep Vidyapeeth University, Piparia, Vadodara, Gujarat
5. Shri Devraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and Research, Kolar, Karnataka
6. Yenepoya University, University Road, Mangalore
7. BLDE University, Solapur Road, Bijapur, Maharashtra
8. Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences, Satara, Maharashtra
9. DY Patil Medical College, Kolhapur, Maharashtra
10. Meenakshi Academy of Higher Education and Research, Chennai
11. Chettinad Academy of Research and Education CARE, Kancheepuram, TN
12. Sri Siddhartha Academy of Higher Education, Tumkur, Karnataka
13. Jain University, Bangalore
14. Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, Pune
15. Siksha O Anusandhan, Bhubaneswar, Orissa
16. Institute of Advanced Studies in Education IASE of Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahar
17. Mody Institute of Technology and Science, Sikar, Rajasthan
18. DR MGR Educational and Research Institute, Chennai
19. Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, Chennai
20. Kalasalingam Academy of Research and Education, Virudhunagar, TN
21. Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology PMIST, Thanjavur, TN  
22. Academy of Maritime Education and Training AMET Chennai
23. Vel's Institute of Science, Technology and Advanced Studies, Chennai
24. Karpagam Academy of Higher Education, Coimbatore
25. Vel Tech Rangarajan Dr Sagunthala R&D Institute of Scienc e and Technology, Chennai
26. Nehru Gram Bharati Vishwavidyalaya, Allahabad
27. Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry
28. Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation, Salem, TN
29. Bharath Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai
30. Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science and Technology, Thanjavur, TN
31. Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development Sriperumbudur, TN