Curtains down on Viplav Sharma Case in SC, Decade of suffering for Deemed Universities ends, what next?

SC2A case, pending for last 1 decade has finally come to an end in Supreme Court on 26.08.2016. The PIL has been disposed off simplicitor noting the acceptance of assessment done by NAAC and criticizing the manner in which grading of the Deemed Universities was done by a Tandon Committee, by ignoring the Statutory Authorities and on basis of power-point presentation and not physical inspection.

During the intervening period, Deemed Universities were being treated as sub-standard institutions unworthy of academic and geographical expansion on basis of findings of Tandon Committee and infact some odd 40 of them were “doomed”, as they were de-recognised by the Central Government on the basis of findings of the Supreme Court.

In the year 2006, one Viplav Sharma filed a Petition [PIL] in Supreme Court raising some issues relating to Deemed Universities. During the course of proceeding, MHRD constituted a committee headed by Prof. Tandon to review the functioning of the Deemed Universities. The Committee on basis of power point presentation in a room, without conducting physical inspection graded Deemed Universities in A, B and C Categories. According to the Tandon Committee while “A”, satisfied the satisfied the criteria of Deemed Universities, “B” Category were granted 3 years to take corrective measures and “C” Category Universities were sought to be de-recognised. The then Central Government accepted the report of Tandon Committee. All the “C” Category Deemed University challenging the findings and approached Supreme Court, which ordered maintaining “STATUS QUO” in the matter.

The findings of Tandon Committee also prompted MHRD / UGC to notify the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, which was also challenged by several Deemed Universities in different High Court in the country. By Judgement dated 22.05.2014, the Regulations were quashed and were declared to be invalid and unconstitutional.

UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 declared illegal by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court

Summary of the Judgement of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court on UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010

Later, Supreme Court, though without commenting on legality of the Tandon Committee, expressed opinion that it is UGC which is mandated body to review Universities and asked UGC to inspect all the Deemed Universities and submit report.

For some reason, best known to UGC, it also followed the same process and methodology of Tandon Committee to assess the Deemed Universities. On being pointed out, SC reprimanded the UGC and asked them to assess Deemed Universities after conducting physical inspection.

SC disapproves UGC process of inspection by photographs and video-camera

UGC conducted inspection and found 7 of them to be still deficient, to which it granted a year to improve and remaining were cleared subject to approval by MHRD.

In the meantime, Supreme Court taking cognizance of the fact that NAAC, is a statutory autonomous body constituted under UGC Act, 1956 to undertake the functioning of assessment and accreditation, directed NAAC to assess the “C” Category Deemed Universities. NAAC after conducting inspection submitted its report. Surprisingly and contrastingly, many of those who were doomed by Tandon Committee got flying ranks from NAAC.

Decide on universities’ accreditation: SC to NAAC

Failed by Tandon Committee, passed by NAAC

During the proceedings on 19.04.2016, Supreme while accepting the NAAC Assessment, expressed its strong desire to dispose the PIL, with the observation that, “….. in all possibility, we would have closed the matter and a decade old public interest litigation which has, as submitted at the Bar, yielded certain results would have come to an end …..” . However, then Petitioner raised the contention that the Deemed Universities cannot use the expression “University”, in its name, as they are not Universities within the meaning of Section 2[f] and Section 23 of the UGC Act, 1956. The Supreme Court keeping this issue open categorically observed that for all other purpose the Petition will not be heard on any other issue.

After come hearing which happened on 12.07.2016, 27.07.2016 and 29.07.2016, in the hearing dated 12.08.2016, the Petitioner expressed its desire to withdraw the Petition in light of order dated 19.04.2016. Finally in the hearing on 26.08.2016, the Supreme Court observing that, issue of using expression “University” by Deemed University was not an issue in the PIL , disposed the Petition. However, it did allow the Petitioner to take appropriate recourse available under the law regarding the issue of using of expression “University” by Deemed Universities.

So, finally curtain was drawn on the decade old Petition, which questioned the very existence of the Deemed Universities.

EduLegaL View:

EduLegaLIt was necessary that faith in power and mandate of statutory authorities should be restored. Tandon Committee had eroded this faith, which was further compounded by the inaction and reliance of MHRD on its findings. Finally and again Indian Judiciary has ended the continued agony and pain of a decade for Deemed Universities.

Issue, is what next, MHRD should disown Tandon Committee and its findings and should come clear on its policy relating to Deemed Universities. Right to establish and administer educational institution is a fundamental right, and it cannot be restricted by executive fiats, in nature of Tandon Committee. The field can only be governed and regulated by a just and fair law.

This conclusively proves that the “drawing room” method of out-sourced assessment by Tandon Committee was completely flawed. Eventually, the law of the country prevailed and Institutions have been given justice after long tiring struggle of 10 years. In true words, meaning, mandate and manifestation of law and supremacy of a statutory academic regulators has been restored.

Ravi Bhardwaj

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Advertising watchdog pulls up 23 educational institutions for misleading ads

In May 2016, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against twenty-three different educational institutions for violating ‘ASCI Guidelines for Advertisement of Educational Institutions.’

1ASCI_380These institutions include not only private coaching classes but also online certification training providers, private educational societies, and a UGC recognised University. The upheld complaints relate to false claims regarding high rankings in competitive exams, high salary packages in placements, and claims of having the best faculty. Other complaints included unsubstantiated claims of providing hundred percent placement or being the best in their respective field.

The guidelines were issued by the ASCI after taking into consideration the high value that parents put on the education of their children and great personal sacrifices they make for ensuring it. The advertising content guidelines apply to ads of all educational institutions, coaching classes, and educational programmes.

The guideline, among other things, mandates institutions to not make claims regarding extent of batch placed, highest or average compensation of students placed, or marks and ranking of students passed out unless they are substantiated with evidence. They also forbid advertisements which lead the public to believe that enrolment in the institution will provide the student a job unless the advertiser is able to submit substantiation to such effect and also assume full responsibility of the same.

They further prohibit institutions and programs from claiming recognition, authorisation, accreditation, or affiliations without having proper evidence.

Against this context, the notification released by the ASCI on August 4, 2016 mentions that the CCC found following claims in the advertisements by 23 different educational institutions as not substantiated and, thus, violating the ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions:

  • Apeejay Education Society: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 6.2 L & Avg Salary 3.6 L”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the students have availed the claimed salary packages.
  • Clat Forum: The advertisement’s claims, “Meet the toppers of CLAT”, “Neha Lodha” shown as “Clat ’15 Topper”, were false and were misleading by implication. As per data submitted by the complainant and information available in the Public domain, Akash Jain was the Clat ’15 Topper.
  • Simplilearn Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Simplilearn.com): The advertisement’s claim, “World’s largest Professional Certifications Company” was not substantiated and was grossly misleading.
  • Aldine Ventures Pvt. Ltd. (Aldine CA): The advertisement’s claim, “study from India’s best final faculty” and “Study from India’s best CPT faculty”, were false and misleading. The advertisement contravened Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions and Programs.  
  • Bhanwar Rathore Design Studio: The advertisement’s claims, “India’s No.1 Design Entrance Coaching Canter” and “Highest selection record from BRDS as compared to any coaching institute in India,” were not substantiated with authentic comparative data or with a third party certification. Such a comparative claims are not practically possible given the vast nature of the field of education and presence of a large number of institutes across India.  
  • Legal Edge Tutorials: The advertisement showcasing the comparative data of various criteria indicated, showing Legal Edge to be better than other similar institutes, is not substantiated and is misleading.  
  • Made Easy Institute (GATE, ESE & PSUs Exams): The advertisement’s claims, “India’s Best Institute for IES, GATE & PSUs”, “Crack in 1st attempt”, “ Best faculty”, “Best study material”, “Best results”, “Best pool of faculty in India”, “Best infrastructure & support”, “Maximum selections with toppers”, “The ONLY institute which has consistently produced Toppers in ESE, GATE and PSUs”, “The results in ESE 2015 4 streams 4 first ranks, 38 selections in top 10, 350 selections out of total 434 vacancies” and “The results in GATE 2016 1st Ranks in ME, EE, EC, CS, IN & PI, 53 selections in top 10, 96 selections in top20 & 368 selections in top 100”, were not substantiated with authentic evidence. There was no validation by an independent third party for the claims as well. Also, the claims were considered to be misleading by exaggeration 
  • Pratham Education (Crash Course Batch 2016): The advertisement’s claims, “6 All India Rank 1’s in Entrance Exam of 2015”, “Crash Course Batch 2016”, “AIR 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17 & 20 in Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies”, “AIR 1, 2,3,4,5,7,11, 13, 15, 16, 18 & 20 In IP University BBA Course”, “AIR 1 In IP B.Com”, “AIR 2,4,5,7,8,9,13,16,17,18,19 In Delhi University BBE Entrance in 2015”, “AIR 5,38,45 in IP BJMC & AIR 2,4,16,19 in Delhi University BMMMC Entrance in 2015”, “51 out of Top 100 Final selections in Delhi University BMS/BBA (FIA) Entrance in 2015”, “23 Final Selections in the Oberoi’s Entrance in 2015, were Pratham Students” and “37 Final selections in IN IIM Indore in 2015”, were not substantiated and were considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication.
  • Rau’s IAS Study Circle: The advertisement’s claim, “8 in top 20”, “39 in top 100” and “396 Total Selections”, were not substantiated with supporting data and are misleading.

It further states that the complaints against advertisements of all educational institutes mentioned below were also upheld mostly because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement’ or because of their claims to be the ‘No.1 in their respective fields’:

Penguin School of Business Management (Lifetime 100% Job Guarantee), KL University, SCMS Group of Educational Institutions, Ucmas West Bengal, Apollo Engineering College, Bakliwal Tutorirals (IIT), Gurukul Institute (Personal Coaching for Spoken English), Amirta International Institute Of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (International University Diploma), Apeejay Education Society, Lloyd Business School, IMS-NOIDA (IMS Ghaziabad), United Group of Institutions (United Institute Of Management), Utkal University and New Delhi Institute Of Management.

EDULEGAL VIEW:

edulegal imageIn todays globalised and technology driven era, consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements trying to promote different products. This promotion, although harmless when done judiciously, becomes damaging when it exploits the information asymmetry among the general public and misleads them.

Considering the significant role that education plays in the development of human capital of a nation, any misleading and deceptive information regarding the same can cause a substantial damage to the social and economic development of a country. It is therefore important that such unsubstantiated and misleading claims are dealt with promptly and sternly.

At present there is no central statutory agency or uniform legislation regulating the advertising industry in India. Therefore, a comprehensive law on advertising in all forms of media providing more clarity and acting as a one-stop window for all cases relating to advertising is highly desirable.

UGC asks colleges to submit online compliance of anti-ragging measures

UGC2Reiterating its tough stance on the issue of curbing the menace of ragging, the UGC recently released a notification asking colleges to submit an online report of compliance of Anti-ragging Regulations of 2009. It has further warned educational institutes of punitive action if they do not act in accordance with the Regulations or fail to take adequate steps to prevent ragging and punish perpetrators of incidents of ragging suitably.

‘Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutes, 2009’ were notified by the UGC in pursuance to the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the University of Kerala v. the Council of Principals of Colleges in Kerala’.  These regulations are mandatory and apply to all Universities. Among other things, they require institutes to step up anti-ragging mechanism by adequately publicising its anti-ragging stance through various mediums, setting up of anti-ragging committee and squad, installing CCTV cameras at vital points, organizing workshops and seminars on eradication of ragging, and displaying anti-ragging posters at prominent places.

They further require colleges to have regular interaction and counselling with students, to mention anti-ragging warning in the institution’s prospectus and information booklet, and to hold surprise inspection of hostels and other premises vulnerable to ragging practices.

Against this background, UGC has requested universities to instruct all colleges under their purview to submit an online compliance of anti-ragging regulations. The notification also states that the National Anti-ragging Helpline has been set up for students in distress.

Citing the second amendment in the UGC regulations, the notification further makes it compulsory for each student and every parent to submit an online undertaking every academic year at www.antiragging.com and www.amanmovement.org. The expanded definition of ragging to include racial, ethnic and casteist remarks as broadened by the third amendment has also found its mention in the notice.

EduLegaL View:

edulegal imageConstant reiteration of anti-ragging policy is a necessary and a positive step against curbing the menace of ragging that has infected higher educational institutions in India for a long time. Eradicating this menace by creating awareness on its ill-effects can only be achieved with a sincere co-operation from institutions. Latest UGC notification requiring online submission of compliance report is a constructive step towards that goal.

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read other related stories:

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

Racial and ethnic discrimination may be included under Ragging

UGC Notifies Regulations for Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

UGC2UGC recognising the need to widen the access to higher education through technology has released the Credit Framework for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by establishing a indigenous platform of learning, named as SWAYAM (Study Web of Active Learning by Young and Aspiring Minds) and also prescribed regulatory mechanism to allow seamless connect between the online learning and the regular class room learning.

The Regulations, shall facilitate transfer of credits of such students who are enrolled as regular/part-time students in any educational institution in India through ‘Four quadrant approach’, wherein the

Quadrant-I is e-Tutorial: that shall contain: Video and Audio Content in an organised form, Animation, Simulations, Virtual Labs,

Quadrant-II is e-Content: that shall contain: PDF/e-Books/illustration, video demonstrations, documents and Interactive simulations wherever required. •

Quadrant-III is Web Resources: that shall contain: Related Links, Open Content on Internet, Case Studies, An ecdotalin formation, Historical development of the subject, Articles and

Quadrant-IV is Self-Assessment : that shall contain: MCQ, Problems, Quizzes, Assignments andsolutions, Discussion forum topics and setting up the FAQ, Clarifications on general misconceptions.

The ‘National MOOCs Coordinator’ (NMC) a Nation level agency designated under the Regulations, for coordinating the production of the online courses and for overseeing their quality shall identify the Institutions, which desire to offer online courses in the forthcoming semester on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution keeping in view their academic requirements, decide upon the courses, which it shall permit for credit transfer.

However, there are some limitations on an Institution offering course on SWAYAM Platform. The Institution has to show that there is non-availability of suitable teaching staff for running a particular course in the Institution or the facilities for offering the elective papers (courses), sought for by the students are not on offer in the Institution, but are available on the SWAYAM platform and also that the courses offered on SWAYAM would supplement the teaching-learning process in the Institution. In any case, the Institution has to ensure that the physical facilities like Laboratories, computer facilities, library etc, essential for pursuing the courses shall be made available free and in adequate measure by the parent institution. The parent institution must also designate a course coordinator/facilitator to guide the students throughout the course and to facilitate/conduct the Lab/Practical sessions/examinations.

mooc3Every student, aspiring to have credit transfer through MOOC Courses, would be required to register for the MOOCs for that course/paper. Their performance would be evaluated by a host institution and the PI shall be responsible for evaluating the students registered for the MOOCs course launched by him/her. The evaluation should be based on predefined norms and parameters and shall be based on a comprehensive evaluation throughout the length and breadth of course based on specified instruments like discussions, forums, quizzes, assignments, sessional examinations and final examination.

The Regulation, though paves route for online learning, but surprisingly it leaves discretion with the PI to decide on the mode of conducting the final examination, which may also be pen and paper method.

After conduct of the examination and completion of the evaluation, the PI through the host institution shall award marks/grade as per the evaluation scheme and communicate to the students and parent institution, which shall incorporate the marks/grade obtained by the student, in the marks sheet of the student that counts for final award of the degree with the proviso that the programs in which Lab/Practical Component is involved, the parent institution will evaluate the students for the practical/Lab component and accordingly incorporate these marks/grade in the overall marks/grade.

The parent Institution shall give the equivalent credit weightage to the students for the credits earned through online learning courses through SWAYAM platform in the credit plan of the program for the purpose of credit mobility.

UGC has also asked the Universities to amend their Ordinances, Rules, Regulations etc., to incorporate provisions of these Regulations for the purpose of seamless Integration of MOOCs and also has warned them from refusing any student for credit mobility for the courses earned through MOOCs.

UGC shall notify a Standing committee to resolve any issues that may arise in the implementation of these regulations during the transition period of three years.

EduLegaL View:

No doubt it is a good start! and a great leap for wider access to higher education.

But, I think the slowly the “centralized” system of e-learning has to give way for independent online hosting of courses also.

Today there is no regulation in the country, which empowers an Institution to conduct online learning. The proposed Distance Education Council of India Bill makes provision for the same. It is required that regulation should be in place obviously with prescribed standards to allow Institutions to conduct online course, and not just enabling credit transfer.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

No Examination Centre outside State for Distance Education Institutes: UGC

UGC2UGC has now issued a circular that a Distance Education Institute cannot conduct Examination outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

UGC, taking cognizance of the fact that some Institutions / Universities / Institutions Deemed to be Universities are conducting examinations for their Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes outside the State of their location or beyond their territorial jurisdiction, in violation of UGC policy on ODL norms and territorial jurisdiction.

UGC feels that such practice of conducting examination outside is wholly illegal and have asked the Institutes to stop setting up examination centres and conducting exams outside the State of their locationexam-centre2
or beyond their territorial jurisdiction.

Edulegal View:

I feel this circular is against the ethos of open and distance learning. What is the harm if one State based Distance Education University, though not operating outside the state, for the convenience of students outside the state, conducts examinations for them outside the state.

Does this circular mean that, a student residing in Punjab but enrolled in a Distance Education University based in UP has to travel all through to UP to give examination, then what is the benefit of open and distance learning?

I can understand that a Distance Education University should not have franchise centres outside the state, that is alright, but why ban examination centres, what is the justification, what are we going to achieve ?

Are we trying to restrict the choice available to a student, because a distance learning student would generally not like to travel distances only for examination purposes. Are we trying to create monopoly or geographical restriction in education sector ?

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read the Notification:

UGC Notice on Examination Centre for Distance Education Institutes

 

 

EduLegaL Analysis of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016 : Big Positives, Few Drawbacks, Huge Confusion

UGC2The UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016 has replaced the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 and admittedly there are some positive departures.

Some of the salient features / new features of the New Regulations are:

A) Introduction/ recognition of NIRF: MHRD had launched National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF), last year and also declared the rankings in April this year though the participation in this framework was not substantive. The Regulations seek to recognise NIRF ranking as an eligibility criteria to be declared as a Deemed University. It prescribes that the proposing institution should be in top 20 in any specific category and in top 100 of overall ranking of NIRF.

B) Section 8 company can also be Deemed University: Section 8 companies are basically body corporates established under the Companies Act, 2013 established for charitable purposes. The new Regulations recognises that the proposed Deemed to be University can be a section 8 company which is a positive departure as earlier only Society or Trust were permitted.

C) Full disclosure regarding fee structure: The Regulation puts obligation on the Deemed University to declare its fees and charges in its prospectus and in its website. It also restricts the Universities from charging exorbitant entrance test fees other than recovering reasonable cost incurred in conducting the entrance test.

D) Compulsory publication of prospectus: It has directed all the Universities to publish its prospectus at least 2 months before commencement of classes, a prospectus detailing all the components of fees, refund rules, intake, eligibility criteria, process of selection, details of teaching faculty, ranking and accreditations, physical and academic facilities and infrastructure, syllabus, etc. The said information is also required to be published on the website.

E) Ban on misleading advertisements: The new Regulations has taken cognizance of the ill practice of publishing misleading claims in advertisements relating to recognition, facilities, infrastructure, performance and issued strict warning and instructed that not deemed to be University shall indulge in publishing such misleading claim.

F) Prescription of Timelines: The New Regulations seek to prescribe timelines for the processes involved in declaration of Deemed to be Universities / Grant of Off Campus Centres, which is a good initiative. However, there is no default consequence prescribed and hence the prescription of such timeline will only remain directory and not mandatory.

G) Introduction of Letter of Intent Scheme: The regulations have introduced the concept of Letter of Intent (LOI), which will prima facie indicate that the Deemed University has vested right to start an Off Campus / establish a Deemed University under De Novo Category, provided it starts the operations within 3 years of the issue of LoI.

H) Restriction on Off-Campus/es: No Deemed University shall be allowed to have an Off-Campus within the first 5 years of its operations. However, beyond that it can established 2 off-campuses in any period of 5 years.

I) Academic Reforms: 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. It has been mandated that such institutions will review the syllabus every 3 years at least. 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.

J) Infrastructure: Some relaxation in the infrastructure requirememts has been made considering that land has been expensive and also is not available easily in abundance. 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.

K) Generally speaking otherwise, the provisions of the earlier Regulations have been continued. The other mandatory Regulations like Ragging Regulations, Gender Sensitization, Sexual Harassment Regulations have again been made mandatory through these Regulations.

Sponsoring Society / Government vis-a-vis Deemed University Reforms

Role, Authority and Limitations of Sponsoring Society / Government in a Deemed University has been the major point of struggle between the Deemed Universities and the Government. UGC Regulations of 2010 limited the role of Sponsoring Society to a bare minimum, resulting in litigations in various High Courts, challenging the validity of the UGC Regulations of 2010. Still the proceedings are pending in various High Courts. In fact Karnataka High Court has declared the Regulations to be unconstitutional. Madras High Court has upheld the same, but status-quo has been maintained by the Appellate Court.

The New Regulations has made substantive and positive attempt to reduce this conflict, let us see how:

A) Government Nomination on Board/Council of Deemed University: Earlier, there was a nominee of Central Government to be appointed in consultation with UGC. Similar provision was also for Finance Committee. Under the new Regulations, Government Nomination is restricted only to such Universities, which are controlled and managed by Government or receiving grants more than or equal to 50 % of its expenditure. In all other cases, now UGC will have a nominee.

B) Increased Representation of Sponsoring Society in Deemed University: Under the old Regulations, number of nominees of Sponsoring Society on the Board of Management was limited to maximum of two members. Under the new Regulations, the nomination strength has been increased to four members.

C) President of the Society can be Chancellor of Deemed University: Under the old Regulations, it was mandatorily prohibited that President of the Sponsoring Society or his/her close relatives cannot be Chancellor of the Deemed University. Such restriction has been done away with in the new Regulations, restriction being that the person should be a distinguished academician and the maximum term that he can enjoy is 2 term of 5 years.

D) Provision for Pro-Chancellor: This is an interesting creation in the new Regulations. The Sponsoring Body can also appoint a Pro-Chancellor, who would discharge the function of Chancellor, in his / her absence.

Drawbacks / Regressive Provisions:

Though, honestly admitting it has certainly made few positive departures, but it also has some drawbacks:

A) Restriction on using the word “University”: Though the new Regulations has reformed to some extent this regressive clause, which was also existing in the earlier Regulations, but denying a Deemed University to use “University” as a suffix to its name is certainly regressive. The only consolatory departure being that the expression “deemed to be University” can be used after the name. Not Done !

B) Restriction on conducting Distance Education Programme: It bars Institutions declared as Deemed Universities under or after the Old Regulations to conduct Distance Education programmes. Surprisingly, it says that Institutions, which were conducting such programme can continue to operate. There is no reasonable justification for this disadvantageous distinction. This is arbitrary !

C) Distinction between Government and Private Deemed Universities: One can understand concessions / exemptions in financial incurring when it comes to a Government Deemed University. But at many places unreasonable favour has been given to a Government Deemed University over a Private Deemed University like number / restriction on off-campuses, which are purely academic matters and which should be judged on level grounds.

Confusion and the Chaos

The New Regulations, has also left some confusion and chaos in the Regulatory Regime of Deemed Universities.

A) We all know scores of litigations are pending challenging the Old Regulations on various grounds. In fact considering the diverse geography of challenge and universal applicability of the Regulations, MHRD has preferred Transfer Petition before the Supreme Court. Some of the grounds of challenge has been accepted and remedial provisions included. But some still continue. So what happens to those litigations and the transfer petitions. Will it partially survive or a fresh petition will have to be filed. A Delhi High Court Judgement has also quashed the earlier guidelines. Now the situation is earlier Guidelines are quashed, the Old Regulations are quashed, the New Regulations continues with many of the provisions, which were in the quashed Regulations. So what to follow? I wish Government should have come with clarity on all these issues!

B) There is another huge confusion on applicability of the New Regulations to the old proposals. Though the master provision says that the New Regulations will be applicable, but at the same time it also says that Deemed University should undertaking to that effect and should comply with the Regulations within 2 years. What is a Deemed University denies to file this Undertaking? or takes a stand that many of the provisions are quashed in the earlier Regulations and hence cannot be complied with as it will be illegal. I do not have an answer, the only answer being that there is no clarity !

C) What about the GHOST OF TANDON. They should have clearly denounced Tandon Committee, which involves fate of more than 50 deemed universities today. A clarity would have rest so many issues to rest especially regarding expansion of deemed universities.

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

 

 

UGC Notifies New Deemed University Regulations, replaces 2010 Regulations

ugcUGC, with a view to regulate the process of declaration of institutions as deemed to be universities and to prevent institutions of dubious quality from being so declared so that quality of higher education imparted by Deemed Universities is maintained and is consistent with the ideals of the concept of a university, has notified the New Regulations, replacing the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 and its subsequent amendments.

UGC has invoked powers conferred on it by Section 26[1] [f] and [g] to frame and notify the New Regulations. The Regulations shall apply to apply to every institution seeking declaration as an institution deemed to be university under the Act as also, albeit prospectively, to an institution which has been declared as an institution deemed to be university under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956.

A Copy of the New Regulations : UGC [Institutions Deemed to be University] Regulations, 2016

 

 

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

In light of recent unfortunate incidents and for some time now, UGC was contemplating to make any acts which demeans a person on basis of his race, sex or caste an act of ragging and finally it has amended the Ragging Regulations to comprehensively include all kinds of offences relating to race, caste, creed or sex of a person.

UGC2UGC, by Gazette dated 29.06.2016, has amended Clause 3 of UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009, which defines “Ragging” and has added the following clause:

3(j). Any act of physical or mental abuse (including bullying and exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of colour, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (including transgender), sexual orientation, appearance, nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place   of residence or economic background.

Taking cognizance of this heinous crime, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “University of Kerala v/s. Council, Principals, Colleges and others” had constituted a Committee to address the issues of ragging and also frame regulations to arrest the menace of Ragging. UCG in the year 2009, with the objective to prohibit, prevent and eliminate the scourge of ragging had notified UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009.

The Regulations, broadly define “Ragging” as any conduct which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or any other student which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame, or torment or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of such fresher or any other student, with or without an intent to derive a sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or superiority by a student over any fresher or any other student. This includes disrupting studies, financial extortion, sexual abuse etc.

A student who is found guilty of ‘Ragging’ may be suspended from attending classes and academic privileges. The Regulations also provides that the Institute can also withhold scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits or debarring them from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation process and withholding results. In extreme cases, it may also result in cancellation of admission or rustication from Institution.

The Regulations recognizes that the Institution has vital role to play in curbing the menace of Ragging and hence it has warned the Institution that it fails to take action in case of Ragging then the Commission may withdraw any allocated grants and declare that the erring Institution is ineligible for consideration for any assistance and it does not possess the minimum academic standards. In extreme cases, it may also lead to withdrawal of affiliation / recognition.

UGC has also launched a dedicated website for this purpose: www.antiragging.in. According to the statistics available on the website, since the year 2009, a total of 3343 complaints have been lodged till date.

Out of this total complaint, 192 Complaints have been lodged from State of Maharashtra. Further studying it Gender Wise, it is seen that out of 192 Complaints made in Maharashtra, 159 Complaint has been made by Male Students and 33 Complaints have been made by Female Students.

The Highest Complaints have been lodged from State of Uttar Pradesh [692] followed by West Bengal [432] and Madhya Pradesh [372].

The Initiative by UGC has resulted in closure of 1991 Complaints, while 17 are active In Call Centre, 19 Complaints are being actively considered by Monitoring Agency, 45 Complaints are pending with UGC and 22 Complaints are pending with other Regulatory Authorities.

EduLegaL View:

Ragging is worst possible heinous crime, which affects the youth and has to be tackled at all levels. Government has made laws and regulations to address the situation and problem has been arrested to a substantial extent.

The amendment in the Regulations to protect a person from any conduct of physical or mental abuse relating to caste, race, sex of a person is also found in Article 15 and 16 of Constitution of India and the amendment further propogates the mandate of the Constitution.

Good One !

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

NAAC decides to disclose Self Study Reports [SSR] under RTI

National Assessment and Accreditation Council has decided to bring Self Study Report submitted by the Higher Education Institutes for the purpose of assessment and Accreditation under Right to Information Act, 2005 and has accordingly decided to disclose the Report on application under the Act.

The Self-Study Report (SSR) to be submitted by the Institutions comprises Preface; Executive Summary inclusive of the SWOC analysis of the institution; Profile of the Institution; Evaluative Report – Criteria-wise; Evaluative Report – Department-wise.

SSR is like a statement of purpose submitted by an Institution and it summarises the Institutions’ strength on the seven criteria like Curricular Aspects, Teaching-Learning and Evaluation Research, Consultancy and Extension Infrastructure and Learning Resources Student Support and Progression Governance, Leadership and Management Innovations and Best Practices. It also talks about achievement of the Institution and its plans and strategies for achieving its further goals / vision.

Under the earlier process an institution was required to submit SSR post the acceptance of Letter of Intent and also upload the same on their website and retain the same on their website till the visit of the Peer Team. Later under the Revised Timelines, Institutions were directed to submit SSR along with Letter of Intent.

NAAC has now made an attempt to make the process more transparent and has accordingly decided to provide the photocopies of the SSR’s submitted by Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) under RTI provided the RTI request is made within one month from the declaration of Accreditation results.

It has therefore directed all the Higher Educational Institutions to retain the SSR uploaded on their website prior to Assessment & Accreditation, until the completion of validity period of Assessment and Accreditation, so that on receipt of RTI Application regarding the SSR, the Applicant can be asked to refer the access the SSR uploaded on institutional website.

EduLegaL View

The step is a welcome one and will ensure further transparency!

However, the underlining mischief addressed in this decision is the condemnable practice of plagiarism, where certain Institutions copied language, data and content from SSR of other Institution while preparing their own SSR for the purpose of accreditation.

NAAC while examining SSR had found several such instances and had taken effective steps in that regard.

But, there is a legal issue, several Deemed Universities are fighting litigation in High Court challenging the applicability of RTI Act, 2005 to the Deemed Universities. In fact Karnataka High Court has ruled in favour of a Deemed University. Bombay High Court has also granted stay in one matter. What happens in such cases? Will not the directive be violation of the judicial views ?

Arguments will continue !

Read other related news:

From old NAAC to new NIRF – Warning to avoid fraudsters continues

NAAC warns Institutions to refrain from Plagiarism in SSR

“HOW TO GET GRADE “A” in NAAC WORKSHOPS”, NAAC cautions Institutions

 

 

AICTE bids farewell to Dual Degree Integrated Management Courses

aicte_2In the academic year, 2012-13, AICTE with a laudable noble objective to provide students with an opportunity to gain managerial skills and encourage them start and run own ventures with good business knowledge had permitted students to start a 5 year Integrated Dual Degree Management Course, leading to an undergraduate degree in 3 or 4 years, (BM – Bachelor’s degree in Management / BAM -Bachelor’s degree in Applied Management) followed by a Master’s degree in five years (MAM – Master’s degree in Applied Management).

In the year, 2014, UGC released revised specification of degrees, u/s 22 of the UGC Act, 1956 and also the guidelines for Dual Degree Programmes. In respect of the Management Courses, though it did not directly refer to BM/BAM/MAM Courses, but it did refer to other Management Courses and directed that the same be restricted as BBA / MBA, with appropriate parenthesis.

AICTE, after a gap of 2 years, constituted a Committee constituted a Committee to examine the continuation of Five Years Dual Degree Programme (s) in Management (lntegrated) introduced in the AY 2012- 13 by AICTE with the nomenclature as BM/BAM/MAM, since the same were not in line with UGC approved programme (s).

It seems the report has come and now AICTE has directed the Institutes conducting the Dual Degree Course that no fresh admission should be conducted from Academic Year 2016-2017 onwards and the Dual Degree course has to be closed completely. However, the Institutions who were running dual degree course (s) have been permitted to conduct five [05] years Integrated MBA courses in lieu of five (05) years dual degree courses of MBA/MAM introduced by AICTE. As the Institute would now be conducting BBA and MBA Courses, they have been introduce additional supplementary subjects in the curricula of BM/BAM /MAM to come up with same standards of BBA and MBA course (s).

As regards, safeguarding the interest of the existing students, already admitted in the BM/BAM/MAM programme (s) during 2012-13 to 2015-16, AICTE has asked the Institute to provide exit option at the end of the three (03) years for the students, who have joined the dual degree courses in 2015-16 and prior to that, by awarding a BBA degree instead of BM degree. But in respect of those students, who have completed 4 years, has to undergo one more year and will be awarded MBA degree after completion of five (05) years, as there is no exit option at the end of fourth year.

The students graduating this year under MAM and completing 5 years of their study may be awarded MBA Degree.

EduLegaL View

When will two regulators having concurrent jurisdictions, start working hand-in-hand in this Country to save the students from hassles and harassment. UGC announced policy in 2014, AICTE implements in 2016. What a criminal wastage of time ?

When will the regulators in our country learn to make policy announcements concerning admission of students prior to commencement of academic year, so that a student can plan his pursuit, an Institute can plan its calendar?

We can keep asking …. ?

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in