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Universities shy away from assessment

New Delhi, Dec. 7: When it comes to getting themselves assessed, India’s central universities have shown a remarkable aptitude for taking things easy.

Till October 25, only six out of 44 had valid accreditation, nearly a month after a six-month deadline ended this September.

Experts said it showed an “utter disregard” for norms. “The central universities are supposed to be models for other institutions. But less than 15 per cent are accredited,” said J.S. Rajput, former director, National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

In March this year, higher education regulator UGC had notified rules that made it mandatory for all the 600 universities and 32,000 colleges in the country to get letters of accreditation within six months from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

The University Grants Commission — which gives grants to all central universities, about 200 state universities and nearly 7,000 colleges — had said it might block the assistance if institutions did not get themselves accredited within the September deadline.

Of the 44 central universities, 17 had got accredited long before the new rules had kicked in this March. The five-year approval has since lapsed for 11 of these varsities, among them Banaras Hindu University and the University of Allahabad.

The remaining 27, which include Delhi University and Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, have not got accreditation, though some like Jamia Millia Islamia University have started the process of getting themselves assessed.

NAAC director A.N. Rai said 179 universities and 5,224 colleges had valid accreditation as on October 25, 2013.

All the new central universities — such as the Central University of Bihar — have opposed the UGC’s March directive, saying they have hardly anything to show to the assessor.

Rajput expressed surprise at the response of the central universities to the accreditation directive. “I will say the central government is responsible as these institutions are directly under the central government,” the former NCERT director said.

He said the government had set up many central universities, IITs and IIMs without proper planning, and these ill-equipped institutions did not want to get accredited.

Former UGC secretary R.K. Chauhan said the central universities had scant regard for the UGC. “The six-month period has passed and the end result is that only six are accredited…. The central universities, particularly the older ones, don’t bother about the UGC or the NAAC,” he said, adding the delay in getting accreditation should be considered dereliction of duty.

UGC chairperson Ved Prakash couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jamia Millia vice-chancellor S.M. Sajid said the university had completed an internal assessment and had applied for accreditation recently. “We are on the job. We expect the NAAC team to visit our campus soon,” Sajid said.

He refused to comment on the delay in seeking accreditation.

Central University of Bihar vice-chancellor Janak Pandey said the institution was only four years old and did not have a permanent campus. None of the 16 central universities created in 2009 has a permanent campus.

“I think the government should put the new central universities in a separate category and should not make accreditation mandatory for us. We have nothing to show to the NAAC team today,” he said.

He said his institution would apply for accreditation after it gets land for a campus and about 50 per cent of the construction is complete.