UGC constitutes Committee regarding unauthorized Off Campuses of Deemed Universities

UGC has decided to constitute a 5 Member Committee to consider the issue related to the off-campuses established/started by some Institutions Deemed to be Universities without prior approval of UGC/Ministry of HRD.

On November 9, 2015, UGC, Higher Education Regulatory Authority in the Country had issued Notices to 10 Deemed Universities directing them to close down their off-campus, which have not been permitted / approved by UGC / MHRD.

The Institutes, which received notices were Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University, BITS, Pilani, Indian School of Mines-Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science & Technology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (UP) and Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education-Gwalior.

The Notice created furor in the academic circles as it involved career of many students pursuing their education and several of those who have graduated. All the concerned Deemed Universities protested the Notice and also met the concerned officials and expressed their grievance.

However, BITS Pilani went on aggressive pitch and filed a Petition challenging the closure order before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. While seeking setting aside of the Order dated 09.11.2015, BITS, Pilani had also sought stay on the Notice. The Delhi High Court was pleased to direct the MHRD / UGC not to take any coercive step in the matter.

Later, by way of flaunted discrimination, an unauthorized off campus of a Government funded Deemed University was regularized.

UGC after considering the representation of all the concerned Deemed Universities has decided to constitute under the Chairmanship of Prof. H. Devaraj. Other members of the Committee are Prof. Mohammad Miyan, Prof. Sanjay Govind Dhande and Dr. K.N. Shanti.

As per UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 and Guidelines prevailing earlier, an Off Campus can be started only with the permission of UGC / MHRD as the case may be. It is the case of UGC / MHRD in respect of the stated Deemed Universities that no approval has been granted by UGC / MHRD and hence these campuses being illegal, should be shut down immediately.

EduLegaL View:

Another unfortunate example of historical functioning style, first create panic and chaos, then ask them to make representation and then appoint a Committee to look into the matter and then decide as it pleases you !

The action or rather ill-action of UGC was completely an ill-prepared action. After having given Deemed University/s “legitimate expectation” by not taking any action when they had full knowledge of existence of Off-Campus/es, UGC was disabled by principle of “promissory estoppel” from taking any action against the Deemed Universities much less abrupt closure of the running Institutions at the Off-Campus/es. But wisdom was not on their side and they took hasty decision.

The fate of the unfortunate order was known from the time it was issued and it has turned out to be as expected.

Ravi Bhardwaj | Founder & Principal Consultant, EduLegaL | mail@edulegal.in

UGC to consider Ph.D period as teaching experience

UGC realizing the scarcity of qualified faculty and with objective to encourage research students has now notified on 01.03.2016 Ph.D research period should be considered as experience for recruitment and promotion in the higher educational institutions. UGC has taken this decision in it’s 512th meeting held recently.

The UGC circular published on its website as Clarification on counting of the period of active service spent on pursuing Ph.D.”, which reads that the period of active service spent on pursuing Research Degree i.e. for acquiring Ph.D degree simultaneously, without taking any kind of leave, may be counted as teaching experience for the purpose of direct recruitment/ promotion to the post of Associate Professor and above.

EduLegaL View

It is clear from usage of expression “simultaneously” that this is applicable only to whom those who are already in service and pursuing Ph.D. simultaneously as a part time course and in that sense, it fails to meet the vision that it desired to.

However, the condition of “without taking any leave” is really harsh as it is unimaginable that a person will not take leave during 2-3 year of coursework. This harsh condition leaves this resolution only as an eyewash.

In any case, an employed faculty pursuing Ph.D., simultaneously will have his employment counted even otherwise as “experience”, then what is the benefit of this Notification?

Sometimes, the clarification creates more doubts than clarity !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Advertising Council finds Educational Ads fake, false and misleading

Advertising Standards Council of India [ASCI]  has been receiving several complaints from parents and students against misleading claims being made in advertisement of various educational institutions pertaining to claims of success in competitive examinations, guaranteed placement and passing, recognition and affiliation, ranking of the institutions, etc.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have made claims of Ranking in the Entrance Examinations, Number of successful students, Coaching and Learning Material Preparations and Contents, Test Series, Coaching Pedagogy to influence the aspirants to join their Institutes.

In December 2015, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

1] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd.: The claims in the advertisement, “2116 T.I.M.E students into the IIMs alone – a total of 7379 final selections in CAT- 2014” and “Process and Results validated by an independent third party on 21/09/2015”, were not substantiated.

2] CATKing (CLAP Digital Marketing Course): The claims in the advertisement with reference to Mr Rahul Singh – “He pursued his MBA from SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai”, “He also achieved a degree in Master of Information Technology from Virginia Tech”, and “Certification from a Harvard Business School Alumni”, were false, not substantiated with evidence, and were misleading.

3] CL Educate Ltd (CAT 16/17 Program): The claims in the advertisement, “Your Gateway to IIM”, “Closest to CAT”, “9629 IIM Calls by CL students in CAT’14”, “The most comprehensive CAT ‘16/17 classroom program”, were not substantiated with supporting data. Also, the claim, “9629 IIM Calls by CL students in CAT’14”, is misleading, as it does not match with the CA report on pages 6, 7, 8 – Clause 6 – Conclusion, the total adds up to 8793 only as against 9629 IIM calls as claimed in the advertisement.

false advertisement

4] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd. (TIME Tuitions):The advertisement’s claims, “T.I.M.E., the national Leader in entrance exam training with 200+ centres across India” was not substantiated with supporting data.

5] Triumphant Institute of Management Education Pvt. Ltd (Aqua Regia the Science Quiz 2015): The claim in the advertisement, “Aqua Regia the Science Quiz 2015 – Certified by Guinness World Records & Limca Book of Records as the Largest Quiz Ever”, was not substantiated with supporting data.

6] Triumphant Institute of Management Education (Times Google Search Result Validation): The claim in the advertisement, “Best Coaching Institute for CAT, GATE, Bank Exams, CSAT….” is an absolute claim and was not substantiated with comparative data versus other institutes.

7] Shyamli Institute of Hotel Management: The claims in the advertisement, “recognition of hotel management courses by UGC & AICTE”, “UGC & AICTE approved” and “job guarantee” (Naukri Sunishit) were not substantiated.

5] Knowledge Station India Private Limited (The Santa Kidz): The advertisement’s claim, “Rajasthan’s No. 1 School“, was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other institutes. Also, the claim, “India’s 1st Brain School with D.M.I Technology”, was not substantiated and was considered to be misleading by ambiguity as the advertisement does not give any credible references to authenticate the D.M.I. technology or how the school provides the implied unique brain development benefits of D.M.I Technology over conventional practices followed in other schools.

9] Mahendra Education Pvt. Ltd (Mahendra’s No.1 Institute): The claim in the advertisement, “No. 1 Institute in India”, was not substantiated.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

EduLegaL View: 

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions.

Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these coaching institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC again amends the quashed / sub-judice Deemed University Regulations

University Grants Commission has again amended substantive provisions of UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 relating to appointment of Vice Chancellor and Off Campus Centre being run by Centrally funded Deemed Universities.

UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 were notified on 21.05.2010 on the basis of recommendations of Tandon Committee / Task Force constituted by MHRD. On notified, several Deemed Universities had challenged the constitutional validity of the Regulations in several High Courts.

Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 had quashed the Regulations being unconstitutional. Madras High Court had upheld the validity, however, when the same was challenged, the judgement was stayed. Similarly litigations are pending in Punjab and Haryana High Court, Uttarakhand High Court, Bombay High Court [Aurangabad Bench]. Later, MHRD has filed Transfer Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court seeking to transfer all the matters relating to the Regulations to Supreme Court, which is also pending.

In the recent amendment, UGC has enlarged the scope of Regulation 12, which relates to Off Campus Centres of Deemed Universities established and managed by Government. Originally as the Regulations stood, there was no restriction placed on the number of Off-Campus, being run by a Deemed University. Later by amendment in 2014, UGC had restricted the expansion of the DUs to limit the number of Off Campus Centre to maximum of Six Off Campuses beyond its geographical boundaries. However, by the amendment notified in 2016, UGC has removed the numerical restriction for Deemed Universities established and managed by Government.

Second amendment relates to appointment of Vice Chancellor, by which UGC has wisely undone the previous amendment and restored the original position. By the amendment in the year 2014, UGC had completely done away with the procedure prescribed in the earlier Regulations and prescribed that the process of selection of Vice Chancellor shall be in accordance with the UGC Minimum Qualification for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff Regulations, 2010. However, it has now taken a u-turn and restored the original position to specify that Chancellor shall make the appointment of Vice Chancellor from the 3 names recommended by the Selection Committee.

It further proceeds to prescribe different composition of Selection Committee for Institutions being completely funded by Central / State Government, being funded more than or equal to 50 % or being funded less than 50 % by providing nominees of MHRD / UGC, as the case may be.

EduLegaL View

It is a known fact that the removal of restriction as regards Off Campus Centre for Government Universities was mainly to accommodate several Government Deemed Universities, which were running illegal / unauthorized campuses.

Under our Constitution, discrimination is permitted, but then the grounds for discrimination has to be “reasonable”. I do not see any reasonability in discriminating against the private Deemed Universities and not allowing them to expand as much as Government Deemed Universities. The occasion and cause for amendment is also suspicious obviously to legalise the illegality by Government machinery.

UGC cannot also loose sight of the fact that the UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010 has been declared unconstitutional and invalid by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court, while deciding bunch of Petitions filed by several Deemed Universities. Similarly there is STATUS QUO as respect the said Regulations in favour of several Deemed Universities by order of Hon’ble Madras High Court.

 The Argument can continue !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in