New Delhi, Feb. 5: The human resource development ministry today placed public-funded deemed universities a notch higher than private institutions, in a hurried move to regularise an off-campus ahead of its inauguration by the Prime Minister.
It approved amendments proposed by the UGC to the Deemed Universities Regulations of 2010 to allow public-funded deemed universities to open more than six campuses while restricting unaided deemed universities to that number.
Narendra Modi is slated to inaugurate on Sunday the Bhubaneswar-based National Institute of Science Education and Research, which is an affiliated institution of the Homi Bhabha National Institute. This is the Bhabha institute’s 11th campus.
Last November, the UGC had issued a direction to 10 deemed universities, including the Bhabha institute, to close down their off-campuses since they were opened without the approval of the higher education regulator and the HRD ministry.
But the UGC yesterday decided to regularise the Bhabha institute’s Bhubaneswar campus on the ground that it was a reputable institute and had applied for permission earlier. As for the other nine deemed universities, the UGC will examine their recent proposals for the existing off-campuses.
The Bhabha institute has opened 10 campuses before the one in Bhubaneswar. The UGC regulations of 2010 for deemed universities say no deemed university can open more than six off-campuses.
However, on December 21, 2015, the UGC amended its regulation to exempt government-run deemed universities from the six off-campus restriction. This was apparently with an eye on the Bhabha institute’s 11th campus and the proposal of the Delhi-based public-funded Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan to open its 11th campus in Agartala.
The UGC’s decisions, however, take effect only after ratification by the HRD ministry. This approval was given today.
“Positive discrimination for public-funded institutions is not unfair. It is seen that private deemed universities open campuses for profit unlike government-run institutions,” a UGC member said.
By allowing the 11th campus of the Bhabha institute, the ministry has made a U-turn from its earlier stand. The UGC had decided to allow the Sanskrit Sansthan to set up its 11th campus last year but the ministry had objected to the decision.
Legal expert Ravi Bhardwaj said the decisions of the UGC and the HRD ministry to allow more than six campuses for government institutions may be challenged by private institutions. “You cannot have two different norms for institutions. This amounts to discrimination,” he said.
There are about 85 private deemed universities and about 40 public-funded ones in India.The off-campuses found illegal by the UGC in November include the Hyderabad centre of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Calcutta centre of the Indian School of Mines and the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Sciences centres in Bangalore, Shibpur and Hyderabad.