Planning Panel [Niti Aayog] recommends structure for setting up Foreign University in India

It all started with a proposed full-fledged legislation, then a via-media route was found and Academic Collaboration Regulations was introduced in 2013, which also did not work out to be effective, now it is planned to be part of National Education Policy.

Ministry of Human Resource Development had sought opinion from NITI AAYOG on the issue of permitting Foreign Universities to set up campus in India. A similar question was raised in Parliament.

As opined by NITI Aayog and as submitted by HRM in response to a question in Lok Sabha, NITI Aayog has opined that the road map for the same would involve a four-fold effort viz., (i) raising educational standards and international benchmarking (ii) attracting investment in the higher education sector (iii) leveraging India’s soft power and (iv) strengthening regulation.

MHRD

 

 

It was also informed by HRM that University Grants Commission had proposed fresh regulations for promotion and maintenance of standards of academic collaboration between Indian and Foreign Educational Institutions with a view to streamlining its regulations in the matter.

In so far as the legal structure is concerned, this can possibly be done by:

a] Passing of a new legislation to regulate such Universities, the scope of UGC Act, 1956 presently can regulate Universities set up Central / State Legislature

 b] Possibly amending the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 and allowing such Universities to start operation as Deemed Universities. This would also require amendment in UGC Act, 1956.

 c] Amending modifying the existing UGC (Promotion and Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaborations between Indian and Foreign Educational Institutes) Regulations, 2012, relaxing the criteria for twinning arrangements between Indian and foreign institutions to permit joint academic programs.

It was also informed that States were also requested to give their views on this issue under the theme of “Internationalisation of Education” and all suggestions received from States and during other consultation processes have been sent to the Committee for Evolution of New Education Policy.

EduLegaL View

Foreign Direct Investment [FDI] is not a new term for any economy. In fact under the policy framework, the Indian government has allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the education sector through automatic route. However, due to lapsing legislations, stringent regulations, the Policy has remained only a Policy and has not been exploited.

Higher education has suffered in India due to variable reasons, including quality, regulations, infrastructure etc. Resultantly, a large number of Indian students go abroad for their higher education. The entry of foreign universities will encourage competition, quality and will also provide locally the same international platform for Indian students, which are available outside.

“Brain Gain” and not “Brain Drain” is underlying manifestation of the proposed new Policy.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UGC to consider Ph.D period as teaching experience

UGC realizing the scarcity of qualified faculty and with objective to encourage research students has now notified on 01.03.2016 Ph.D research period should be considered as experience for recruitment and promotion in the higher educational institutions. UGC has taken this decision in it’s 512th meeting held recently.

The UGC circular published on its website as Clarification on counting of the period of active service spent on pursuing Ph.D.”, which reads that the period of active service spent on pursuing Research Degree i.e. for acquiring Ph.D degree simultaneously, without taking any kind of leave, may be counted as teaching experience for the purpose of direct recruitment/ promotion to the post of Associate Professor and above.

EduLegaL View

It is clear from usage of expression “simultaneously” that this is applicable only to whom those who are already in service and pursuing Ph.D. simultaneously as a part time course and in that sense, it fails to meet the vision that it desired to.

However, the condition of “without taking any leave” is really harsh as it is unimaginable that a person will not take leave during 2-3 year of coursework. This harsh condition leaves this resolution only as an eyewash.

In any case, an employed faculty pursuing Ph.D., simultaneously will have his employment counted even otherwise as “experience”, then what is the benefit of this Notification?

Sometimes, the clarification creates more doubts than clarity !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

 

 

UGC again amends the quashed / sub-judice Deemed University Regulations

University Grants Commission has again amended substantive provisions of UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 relating to appointment of Vice Chancellor and Off Campus Centre being run by Centrally funded Deemed Universities.

UGC [Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010 were notified on 21.05.2010 on the basis of recommendations of Tandon Committee / Task Force constituted by MHRD. On notified, several Deemed Universities had challenged the constitutional validity of the Regulations in several High Courts.

Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 had quashed the Regulations being unconstitutional. Madras High Court had upheld the validity, however, when the same was challenged, the judgement was stayed. Similarly litigations are pending in Punjab and Haryana High Court, Uttarakhand High Court, Bombay High Court [Aurangabad Bench]. Later, MHRD has filed Transfer Petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court seeking to transfer all the matters relating to the Regulations to Supreme Court, which is also pending.

In the recent amendment, UGC has enlarged the scope of Regulation 12, which relates to Off Campus Centres of Deemed Universities established and managed by Government. Originally as the Regulations stood, there was no restriction placed on the number of Off-Campus, being run by a Deemed University. Later by amendment in 2014, UGC had restricted the expansion of the DUs to limit the number of Off Campus Centre to maximum of Six Off Campuses beyond its geographical boundaries. However, by the amendment notified in 2016, UGC has removed the numerical restriction for Deemed Universities established and managed by Government.

Second amendment relates to appointment of Vice Chancellor, by which UGC has wisely undone the previous amendment and restored the original position. By the amendment in the year 2014, UGC had completely done away with the procedure prescribed in the earlier Regulations and prescribed that the process of selection of Vice Chancellor shall be in accordance with the UGC Minimum Qualification for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff Regulations, 2010. However, it has now taken a u-turn and restored the original position to specify that Chancellor shall make the appointment of Vice Chancellor from the 3 names recommended by the Selection Committee.

It further proceeds to prescribe different composition of Selection Committee for Institutions being completely funded by Central / State Government, being funded more than or equal to 50 % or being funded less than 50 % by providing nominees of MHRD / UGC, as the case may be.

EduLegaL View

It is a known fact that the removal of restriction as regards Off Campus Centre for Government Universities was mainly to accommodate several Government Deemed Universities, which were running illegal / unauthorized campuses.

Under our Constitution, discrimination is permitted, but then the grounds for discrimination has to be “reasonable”. I do not see any reasonability in discriminating against the private Deemed Universities and not allowing them to expand as much as Government Deemed Universities. The occasion and cause for amendment is also suspicious obviously to legalise the illegality by Government machinery.

UGC cannot also loose sight of the fact that the UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010 has been declared unconstitutional and invalid by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court, while deciding bunch of Petitions filed by several Deemed Universities. Similarly there is STATUS QUO as respect the said Regulations in favour of several Deemed Universities by order of Hon’ble Madras High Court.

 The Argument can continue !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Read Related Stories:

UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 declared illegal by Hon’ble Karnataka High Court

Summary of the Judgement of the Hon’ble Karnataka High Court on UGC Deemed Universities Regulations, 2010

UGC amends Deemed Universities Rules relating to Admission, Governance

UGC relaxes criteria to appoint Chancellor for Certain Deemed Universities

Two sets of varsity rules

 

 

MHRD constitutes committee to deliberate on setting up Yoga Department and start courses in Yoga in Universities

MHRD after deciding to set up Department of Yogic Art and Science in the Universities during a consultative meeting with Vice Chancellors in Bangalore on 2nd January 2016, has now constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. H.R. Nagendra. Chancellor, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana, Samsthana, Bengaluru to look into the various aspects pertaining to setting up of Departments of Yogic Art and Science.

The Committee will deliberate on other pertinent issues including starting courses and programmes like Certificate, Diploma, Degree, Post Graduate Degree/ Diploma and Research in Yoga and the levels at which they can be offered. This will also mean that the Committee will have to determine eligibility qualifications for students joining Yoga and faculty teaching Yoga.

Infact things come out as expected then Yoga will part of NET Examination which is conducted by UGC every year. The Committee has also been asked to see whether existing departments of yoga in Universities can be upgraded to be developed as Departments Yogic Art and Science.

The Committee also consists of Prof. Suresh Lai Barnwal, Prof. Ishwar Bhardwaj, Prof. Neel Kamal, Swami Atmapriyananda, Pandit Radhey Shyam, Prof. O.P.Tiwari Kaivalayadhama, Prof. Subramanayam, Prof. P.Venkat Rangan and Sri Rupen Bhowmik.

The Committee has been asked to submit its Report within 45 days.

UGC directs Deemed Universities / Institutions not to pay sitting fees to Govt. Nominees

UGC in its recent circular issued on 05th January 2016 has brought a sweeping change in age old system in Higher Educational Institutions of giving sitting fee allowance to the officials of the Ministry or attached institutions who are nominated as Government representatives in the institutions in various capacities and directed that Government Nominees on various board of Educational Institutions shall not be paid any sitting fees allowances directly.

MHRD realised that the nominated officers are attending these meetings only in their official capacity as Government nominee/nominee of Secretary or on. Ex-officio basis and it may not be appropriate to receive sitting fee for doing routine official work and directed UGC to issue necessary instructions.

Acting on the instructions of MHRD, UGC has issued this circular and asked all its Bureau Heads to communicate to the Institutions, which come within its purview that not to pay any sitting fee allowance to the officials of the Ministry or attached institutions who are nominated as government representatives in the Governance structure of these institutions such as board of management, board of Governors, Syndicate, Executive Council Finance Committee etc.

Further for Government nominees attending meetings in private institutions (such as deemed universities) UGC has directed the Deemed Universities to remit the sitting fee amount (due to govt. nominees) in the Consolidated Funds of India.

It is notable that by virtue of Clause 5.7 of the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, there is a Nominee of Central Government on the Board of Management of a Deemed University. Similarly, there is a representative of a Central Government on Finance Committee of a Deemed University.

EduLegaL View:

This is a welcome move by UGC. Payment of “Sitting Allowance” to Government Officials for being nominee on Government Institutions was against the principles of “Office of Profit” for a Public Servant.

On the same lines, even if the Government Officials were functioning as “Nominee” for Private Institutions, then also they were discharging Government functions only and hence paying them for discharging government functions was amounting to “financial benefit”, which is not permissible. Therefore asking the Deemed Universities to deposit the sitting fees in Consolidated Funds of India is certainly an appropriate step.

You can read the Notification here.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC major boost to Physical and Sports Education, restores 3 year Course

UGC while considering specification of new degrees in Physical and Sports Education in exercise of its powers u/s 22 of the UGC Act, 1956 has recently approved recommendations of a committee and has agreed to introduce Bachelor of Physical Education and Sports (BPES) and Maters of Physical Education and Sports [MPES] in the list of specification of degrees.

In the year, 1966, vide Notification dated 27.04.1966, UGC had introduced BPE [Bachelor of Physical Education] and MPE [Masters of Physical Education] is list of specification of degrees. UGC in the year 2004, recommended phasing out these degrees from the academics.

In the specification of degrees published in July 2014, UGC had restructured BPE [Bachelor of Physical Education] and MPE [Masters of Physical Education] and prescribed new degrees, viz., BPEd and MPEd, which was result of phasing out the BPE and MPE Degrees, which started in year 2004.

Earlier, the BPE course run by several Universities in the Country was a 3 years degree course, allowing 12th Pass Students to pursue this Course. However, by amendment in July 2014, the Bachelor in Physical Education [BPEd] was prescribed as 2 year Course with Bachelor Degree as qualifying degree. This eliminated students passing 12th and aspiring in Physical Education to pursue their pursuits.

In addition, to BPES, the UGC has also approved MPES [Masters of Physical Education and Sports] Program. Considering that is a Master’s Degree, it will be of two years duration and will run concurrently with MPEd Degree Course.

EduLegal View:

We all welcome this step of restoration of 3 year degree course, because it is majorly after 12th only that career decisions are made. In such sense, this is really a welcome step by UGC.

But UGC should be mindful of the fact that introduction of a new degree course should generally be done at the beginning of the academic year, so that Universities/ Institutions can start admission to these courses. A delayed introduction disallows to introduce the course in the same year because of curriculum constraints.

Der Aye Lekin Durust Aye !

MHRD appoints Committee to review NET / Non-NET Fellowship Scheme

Amidst unprecedented agitation by students across the country, MHRD has decided to appoint a 5 Member Committee to look into various issues relating to NET / Non-NET based fellowship Schemes.

Background:

For over two decades, the All India National Eligibility Test (NET), a competitive examination conducted twice a year by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has been the basis for the Research Fellowships, currently almost nine thousand that enable students to pursue M.Phil and Ph.D programmes.

The Non-NET Fellowship Scheme was introduced by the UGC in 2006. It is presently limited only to fifty institutions including Central Universities and those with Potential for Excellence. Almost thirty five thousand students are presently availing of these Fellowships.

UGC in its 510th Meeting held on 07.10.2015 had considered the Report of the Expert Committee constituted to frame the Guidelines and enhancement of Fellowship Scheme to Non-NET students and decided to discontinue the NON-Net Fellowship Scheme prospectively, sparing the students, who were already getting the benefits under the Scheme.

Reaction to the Discontinuation:

The decision of discontinuation led to huge uproar in the student community in the Country with protest and demonstrations coming right on the doorsteps of UGC. It was also reported in Media that the protesting students were subjected to lathi-charge. Considering the gravity of the situation, MHRD intervened in the matter and announced to appoint a Review the entire Fellowship Scheme. As an Interim Measure to address the crisis, it stayed the decision of UGC to discontinue the Non-NET Fellowship Scheme.

MHRD Review Committee:

MHRD considering the imperative is the need to encourage and expand quality research in diverse field and with a view to improve access, quality, impact and equity in the Universities has decided to review the current research framework, efforts, opportunities, quality and output and has constituted a Committee headed by Shri Gautam Barua, Former Director, IIT Guwahati to consider various issues relating to NET / Non-NET Fellowship Scheme

The Committee will deliberate on various issues relating to the Scheme including feasibility of enhancing the number of merit based NET fellowships and bringing the benefits and opportunities of the Non-NET fellowship scheme to a larger number of Universities, including State Universities.

As the controversy is primarily related to Non-NET Fellowship, the Committee will also consider economic and other criteria for eligibility for non-NET fellowships and recommend guidelines for the selection, coverage, award, and administration of the non-NET fellowships.

Other members of the Committee include Prof. Syed Bari, Prof. Kuldeep Agnihotri and Dr. Meena Chandrawarkar. The Committee will submit the Report by December 2015.

EduLegal View:

The Agenda for the Meeting, in which the Non-NET Fellowship Scheme was discontinued, reads as “To consider the Report of the Expert Committee constituted to frame the guidelines and consider enhancement of Non-NET fellowship”, ironically, instead of enhancement, which was supposed to be discussed, the decision was taken to discontinue.

First Discontinue, then Stay the Discontinuation and then a Committee to review the Discontinuation, this is not a correct approach, specially dealing with the academic environment.

An old saying goes, “Prevention is better than Cure”!