UGC Focuses On Consistent NAAC Ratings And Aims To Streamline The Finances Of Deemed Universities

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) through its recent directive has to smoothen the process for private universities to get the status of ‘deemed to be universities. As per the newly modified draft of ‘deemed to be universities, institutions with as many as five departments that have secured NAAC accreditation of 3.1 consecutively for three years for two-thirds of their eligible programmes will get the deemed to be university status. Now the HEIs would not have to wait for 20 years to get the status of being deemed to be universities. In addition to this, UGC has also mandated that the books of accounts of deemed universities be maintained, managed, and operated in the name of deemed university only and not in the name of any other body. In this direction, strict regulations have been introduced so that no financial irregularities take place in the management of deemed universities.

Speaking to Education Times, Jayasankar E Variyar, pro-vice-chancellor, GITAM (Deemed to be University), says, “This decision by UGC is progressive in nature as it will enable more number of universities to get the status of deemed to be universities. In the past, many instances have come to light where many state-private universities have complained that they were unable to get the status of deemed to be universities. This was happening till now because the universities had to wait for 20 years for getting the status of being deemed to be universities and due to this, many state-private universities came into being. However, now more number of state-private universities would be able to get this status by getting the NAAC grade of 3.1 in three consecutive accreditation cycles. However, to fulfill this criterion, the universities would need to produce excellent graduate outcomes for which they would need to set up the desired infrastructure. The most important advantage that this status would provide is that the state-centric universities will be regulated directly by UGC or its successors.”

The teaching-learning outcomes will get a qualitative boost in the HEIs across the country as they would focus upon achieving the desired level of NAAC rating,” adds Variyar.

Pankaj Mittal, secretary general, of the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), says, “The higher education ecosystem in the country will expand both in quantum as well as in quality which will create more quality deemed to be universities. The eligibility conditions mentioned in the UGC regulations would only be applicable to private institutions. As per Section 3 of the UGC Act, an institution that is performing well and contributing immensely to the creation of knowledge can be given the status of deemed to be university by the Government of India on the recommendation of UGC. Currently, 118 deemed to be universities are members of AIU.”

S Vaidhyasubramaniam, vice-chancellor, of Sastra University (Deemed to be University), Tamil Nadu, says, “The financial health of a deemed university is strictly regulated. For instance, the books of accounts of a deemed university shall be maintained, managed, and operated in the name of the deemed university alone and not in the name of the sponsoring body or any other body for that matter. No diversion of funds from a deemed university’s account to that of any other body or entity is allowed. The same is true for the income and any other property of a deemed university. Strict norms are put in place for their financial management. In case of any deviation from the guidelines, the provision for penalties and public waning and even closure of the university has also been recommended. It is too early to evaluate its possible impact, but it will surely bring in transparency in the ecosystem of educational institutions in the long run. However, the contours of administrative, academic, and financial autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution, have also to be protected for the private unaided institutions.”

“One of the major provisions of NEP 2020 was the removal of fiction in nature word ‘deemed’ or ‘deeming’ and tackling this might be a challenge in the effective implementation and evaluation of achieved objectives. Doing away with the usage of the ‘deemed’ word will provide operative components to the NEP provision, thus, immediate actions by amending the provisions of the UGC Act have to be taken,”

Adds Vaidhyasubramaniam.

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