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Goverment has Decided to de-recognize 44 deemed universities

The HRD ministry has decided to de-recognize as many as 44 “deemed universities”, spelling uncertainty for nearly two lakh students who are enrolled with them. 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. 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, as reported first by TOI, 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

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