Monday, February 23, 2009

Deemed universities: proposed UGC plan

Dr J D Bapat

According to the draft regulations prepared by the University Grants Commission (UGC), that august body will have the power to fix a uniform fee structure for all deemed universities, besides overseeing a centralised admission process, which will determine student intake at these universities.

The status of 'deemed university' granted to some private institutions gives them a measure of autonomy in running their affairs, on the principle that an institution can attain excellence, only if administrators are given a free hand in running it. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC), that was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to suggest ways in which India can take advantage of the 21st century knowledge economy, has said that the present regulatory system is a formidable barrier to the expansion of higher education.

All the institutions, whether private or public, may not attain the giddy heights of excellence the moment they are allowed flexibility in determining their students, faculty, syllabi, fees and cost structures including remuneration paid to faculty and staff. But at least they have a chance of doing so and those that don’t will weed themselves out by attracting fewer students. When demand gets to match supply, the cost of higher education will fall as well.

Give your comments on the proposed UGC plan for the deemed universities

Deemed universities: some suggestions

Dr J D Bapat

One can understand that the Government has a social agenda to fulfill. However to fix uniform fee structure for all deemed universities will not be appropriate. The fee structure of an educational institution must have a relation with what the institution spends on the academic development, namely laboratories, staff salary and welfare, students projects, teaching aids, computers, library and so on. In some States, the Shikshan Shulka Samiti appointed by the Government carries out this task. A similar body established at the Central Government level can do the job. In that case, the fee chargeable by an educational institution will be proportional to what the institution spends on the academic development. The Government should also ensure easy availability of the educational loans through banks.

Besides the faculty and the infrastructure, good students are essential to build a good institution. Centralised admission process is good, provided the transparency and the quality standards are maintained.

It should be noted that the academic autonomy is the key to quality education. Excessive controls will only paralyse the development of higher education in the country.

Comment whether should the fees in the educational institutions be related to their expenditure on the academic development activities.

Deemed universities: bad examples

Dr J D Bapat

The UGC was perhaps prompted to increase the controls looking at the bad examples of the deemed universities in the country. The practices commonly observed in some badly managed deemed universities in the country are as follows:
- stage-managed written tests
- heavy donations
- gross lack of faculty. For example, the university awards Ph D but does not have adequate faculty with doctoral degree in its institutions.
- poor quality teaching
- rampant corruption in the system of examination and evaluation
- siphoning of money collected through fees towards non-academic activities
- absence of research by the faculty and lack of research facilities

Suggest ways to prevent malpractices in the educational institutions