HC directs all Universities to evolve mechanism to decide eligibility at the beginning of academic year

” ……  A provisional admission does not create any vested right in the students. A provisional admission is a concession, which is granted to a student and the same cannot be elevated to a position of a creating a vested legal right. … ” 

“……… We therefore direct the State Government and the respective Universities in the State of Maharashtra to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible….”

The Bombay High Court, while being pained to see students-institutions wasting time in litigation in Court, has directed all the Universities in the State to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible.

The Petitioner in question could clear her backlog of the first year (IInd Semester- Applied Mathematics) subject, only in November, 2015 and before passing the same was granted admission to the Third year (Vth and VIth semester) which was wholly impermissible. The College and the University, for these reasons refused to allow the petitioner to appear for the viva- voce examination of the VIth semester which is to be held on 18th April,2016 and her form was not accepted.

The Petitioner then approached the Court seeking direction to allow the Petitioner to appear for the Viva Voce examinations and the written examinations for the sixth semester and continuation of studies in the seventh and thereafter in the eight semester in the engineering course in the Information Technology faculty.

The Court declined to entertain the petition relying on a rule that a candidate to be eligible to obtain an admission for the Third Year (V & VI semester) should have passed Semester I and II examination and when the Petitioner approached for admission to third year (V and VI semester) in the Academic Year 2014- 15 and was given provisional admission had not cleared the IInd semester examination namely the subject ‘Applied Mathematics’ in which she had failed and hence the Petitioner was not eligible for admission to Third Year.

The Court also ruled that a provisional admission does not create any vested right in the students. The Court also observed that a provisional admission is a concession, which is granted to a student and the same cannot be elevated to a position of a creating a vested legal right. The Petitioner in the present case was given provisional admission and hence she could have claimed any vested right.

Before concluding the Judgement, the Court made following observations:

“ We would be failing in our duty if we do not sound a note of caution in such cases which would be in the interest of the institutions and the students. We are at pains to see number of such cases coming to the court at the fag end when the examination is about to commence. This is routinely happening. Many times it is seen that the institution is at fault for not scrupulously enforcing norms of the University in respect of matters which the University would want the institution to do. The students also many times being aware of the rules try to exploit the situation and try to create equities, and then approach the court at the fag end. In all these situations the students may ultimately suffer huge loss in terms of their academic career. Such situations which are not conducive to anyone are required to avoided. All mischief’s if any at which ever level are required to arrested and remedied at the threshold. This would result in maintaining of academic standards. It is least expected that the students and the institutions waste their time in litigation in Courts. We therefore direct the State Government and the respective Universities in the State of Maharashtra to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible. If the institutions and colleges are guilty of making such admissions/ when are against the rules stern action should be taken against such colleges which would be deterrent to these colleges to deviate from the binding academic rules.”

Thus the Court has directed all the Universities in the State of Maharashtra including Deemed Universities to evolve a mechanism by which the students at the beginning of the academic year are informed about the ineligibility of their admission and are prevented from unnecessary pursuing the course when not eligible. The Court has also warned the Institutions and has cautioned that if the institutions and colleges are guilty of making such admissions/ when are against the rules stern action should be taken against such colleges which would be deterrent to these colleges to deviate from the binding academic rules.

EduLegaL View

 There is no doubt that in spirit, this Judgement is very good and will help in maintaining academic and administrative discipline. However, it is also important to note that considering the diversity of this country and different timings and processes all over the Country, it is almost impossible to determine eligibility at the time of admission.

There are many situations, when essential documents required for eligibility like Migration Certificate, verification of caste certificate, equivalence of a foreign degree from AIU consumes time. Additionally, the Institutions are also working a huge volume. In some case, even results of compartment / improvements are also declared and hence with utmost respect to the Judgement, such blanket process and deadline cannot be laid down.

Yes, I agree that this should certainly happen before the commencement of the second year, so that a student does not waste his time, as has also been observed by the Court.

However, this Judgement certainly gives me a thought and if it has to become a reality, we should have UNIFORM ACADEMIC CODE in the Country, when all the examinations start on same and results are declared on the same date throughout the country.

UNIFORM ACADEMIC CODE ! Another debate in making !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AICTE lays down Study Leave Guidelines for Teachers

AICTE has laid down comprehensive guidelines for availing Study Leave for the Teachers and other Academic Staff in Institutions approved by AICTE, who have joined the teaching services without without M. Tech./ Ph. D or other higher qualification.

The Guidelines prescribe that Study leave may be granted to pursue for study (M.E./M. Tech./ Ph. D) or research in the relevant discipline after a minimum of three years in regular service including the probation period. Study Leave keeping in mind the availability of teachers in the discipline and the vacant positions so that the regular academic work is not disturbed while granting study leave. Study leave shall be granted by the Institution on the recommendation of the concerned Head of the Department.

The paid period of study leave should be two/three years for Master/ Doctorial level respectively. Two years may be given in the first instance, extendable by one more year for Ph. D program. Any extension beyond the stipulated period shall be treated as leave without Pay.

However, such benefit can be availed only once during the entire service and will not be available to a teacher who is due to retire within five years of the date on which he/she is expected to return to duty. Study leave granted to a teacher shall be deemed to be cancelled in case it is not availed of within 12 months of its sanction. Provided that where study leave granted has been so cancelled, the teacher may apply again for such leave.

A teacher availing Study Leave shall continue to receive scholarship, fellowship or other financial assistance, in addition to the Salary being received by him at his home Institution. However, in the case of an Indian fellowship, which exceeds the salary of the teacher, the salary would be forfeited.

Study leave may be combined with earned leave, half-Pay leave, extraordinary leave or vacation, provided that the earned leave at the credit of the teacher shall be availed at the discretion of the teacher.

Another salient feature of the Scheme is that a teacher, who is selected to a higher post during study leave, will be placed in that position and get the higher scale only after joining the post and shall on his/her return and re-joining the service of the Institute be eligible to the benefit(s) of the annual increment(s) which he/she would have earned in the course of time if he/she had not proceeded on study leave. No teacher shall however, be eligible to receive arrears of increments.

Study leave shall count as service for pension/contributory provident fund purposes, provided the teacher joins back in the Institute on the expiry of his/her study leave.

After the leave has been sanctioned, the teacher shall execute a bond that he/she shall serve the Institute for a continuous period of at least three years to be calculated from the date of his/her resuming duty on expiry of the study leave. If the Faculty, fails to observe the conditions, amount paid to him might become refundable to the Institute

The teacher shall submit to the Head of the Institution, the progress report at a frequent interval of 6 months in his/her studies through his/her supervisor. This report shall reach the Head of the Institution of within one month of the expiry of every six months term of the study leave. If the report does not reach within the specified time, the payment of leave salary may be deferred till the receipt of such report.

EduLegaL View

The purpose of study leave is to enable a Faculty to pursue a course or to undertake research, which would improve his potential to serve the Institution and the Students. In that light, this is really a welcome move and will help streamline that process.

But there are few practical issues, How many of the Institutions, do actually follow this and How many of the teachers, do actually return to the Institutions, which granted the Study Leave. The answer is “very few”, which demoralizes such liberal policies.

Let us see, how this New Policy, takes effect !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

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

Deemed Universities must share information with State Government: MHRD

With a view to address the issue of difficulty faced by students of Deemed Universities regarding authentication of educational certificates by the State Government for the purpose of Higher Education or employment abroad, MHRD has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to communicate to all the Deemed Universities and direct them to provide details about their recognition status and other information to state governments to enable them authenticate degrees of students going abroad.

The necessity for the direction arose on a background that Rajasthan government, in absence of information regarding the Deemed University, as obviously such Universities does not come under its jurisdiction, refused to authenticate the degrees of students granted by deemed universities operating in the state, complaining that they were not cooperating and sharing information required for process. Government of Rajasthan accordingly expressed its inability to MHRD vide a letter and requested MHRD to ask UGC to take up the responsibility of authentication and issue necessary instructions to UGC.

Procedurally, a student, going abroad either for the purpose of employment or higher education, has to get his educational certificates authenticated. The state governments authenticate their certificates after verifying the details about the universities. However, in Rajasthan it was becoming a difficulty and therefore the Government finally decided to stop authenticating degrees issued by them.

MHRD, taking strong cognizance of the issue and the Complaint from the Rajasthan Government has asked the UGC secretary to extend all support to the state government in this regard. The commission has also been asked to issue a directive to all deemed universities to ensure that state governments do not face such difficulty and students do not suffer.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

HC says Deemed Universities are at par with Statutory Universities, overrules UGC Guidelines restricting starting new campus and programmes, restricts UGC from disturbing pre-2010 status

In a landmark Judgement, Delhi High Court has ruled that Deemed Universities though established by a Notification u/s 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 is to be treated at par with other Universities which are established statutes of Central / State Government.

The High Court has also held that UGC Act, 1956 does not bar a deemed university from commencing any new course / programme of study or from establishing any new department i.e. other than the one in which a deemed university is already imparting education at the time of being notified as a deemed university, to confer degrees specified in Notifications under Section 22(3).

The High Court was hearing a challenge by a Deemed University to communication by UGC that it had never granted any permission / approval to the University to start certain Departments and that as per the UGC norms a deemed university can on its own start only those courses which are allied to courses already approved by the UGC and that for all those courses which are not allied to the courses already approved with prior approval of UGC is required. UGC had also directed the University not to admit students.

It was argued by the University that there is no provision in the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 which requires an institution, once conferred the status of deemed University, to seek prior approval of the UGC for starting a course / programme. It was also argued that neither the 1992 Guidelines nor the 2000 Guidelines formulated by the UGC for declaring an institution as deemed university also included any provision / condition requiring deemed university to obtain prior approval to start Programmes / Courses / Departments.

UGC contended that 2000 Guidelines required deemed universities to submit proposals for starting various academic courses. Similarly 2004 Guidelines “for establishing of new departments within the Campus, setting up of Off-Campus Center(s) / Institution(s) / Off- shore Campus and starting Distance Education Programmes by the Deemed Universities” also provided inter alia that the deemed universities intending to open a new department in its campus or an Off-Campus Centre / Institution shall approach the UGC at least six months prior to opening of such center and that the deemed universities desirous of introducing a new Course / Programme in a professional subject shall comply with all the requirements of the Statutory Professional Councils and obtain their approval before approaching UGC.

It was emphatically submitted that UGC is empowered by Section 12(j) of the Act to perform such other functions as may be prescribed or as may be deemed necessary for advancing the cause of higher education in India or as may be incidental or conducive to the discharge of its functions and in exercise of which powers, had issued the Guidelines aforesaid. UGC also said that it is entitled to treat deemed Universities as a separate and distinct class and to require them to seek prior approval before starting new Courses/Departments, because deemed Universities are fundamentally different from Universities; while a University is established under a Central or a State Act and does not require recommendations of the UGC, a deemed University is not so established and requires recommendation of the University to function as a University.

The Hon’ble Court rejected the contention of UGC, that Section 22 prohibits deemed Universities from setting up a new department or commencing a new course or programme and held that once an institution of higher education has been declared as a deemed University, it can confer the degrees specified in the notifications issued in exercise of power under Section 22(3) and the said Section cannot be read as restricting the right of a deemed University to confer degrees only in those courses/programmes in which it was imparting education in at the time of being declared a University.

The Court also categorically observed that UGC Act, 1956 does not contain any distinction between a university established or incorporated by a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act and a deemed university. Rather, Section 3 of the Act, as aforesaid, expressly provides that an institution of high education once declared and notified as a deemed university shall be treated as if a university as defined in Section 2(f) of the Act.

Having settled this position of law, the Court proceeded to examine, whether the Act empowers the UGC to impose any such condition on deemed Universities, as was done vide Guidelines of 2000 and 2004?

The Court though generally while interpreting powers and functions of UGC of determination of standards in Universities observed that it certainly includes within its sweep a provision requiring Universities / deemed Universities to obtain approval or prior approval for commencing a new course/programme or for establishing a new department.

The Court on reading of Section 12 of the Act held that UGC could not have in exercise of powers under Section 12 issued a direction / Guideline prohibiting deemed Universities from establishing new department or commencing new programme / course, as Section 12 anything done under Section 12 is to be done in consultation with Universities. The Court noted that it is not the case of UGC that the directives / Guidelines on which it relies to contend that it had prohibited deemed Universities from commencing new course / programme or from establishing new department were issued in consultation with deemed Universities.

The Court thus held that said Guidelines / directives thus cannot be held to be in accordance with Section 12 and thus are of no avail and UGC could not have insisted requiring the deemed Universities to obtain its prior approval before commencing a new course on basis of Guidelines.

The Court though held that it can be done on basis of Regulations, which UGC has framed in year 2010. However, the Court also held that 2010 Regulations have not been given retrospective effect  the same could not have prejudiced the new departments established or new courses/programmes commenced by the deemed University and in establishing/commencing which the deemed University spent considerable effort and money and/or the students admitted thereto or had been conferred degrees thereunder.

The Court eventually felt that subject University is entitled to the declaration that the new departments established by it and the new courses commenced by it (to confer degrees specified in Notifications under Section 22(3) of the UGC Act) prior to coming into force on 21st May, 2010 of the 2010 Regulations are valid. However any course commenced by the petitioner University after the coming into force on 21st May, 2010 of the 2010 Regulations and without obtaining the prior approval of the UGC shall be invalid.

EduLegaL View:

I wish the Petitioners and the Respondents, would have equally pointed out to the Court that Regulations of 2010 is also under litigation and its constitutional validity has been challenged. We would have been entitled by some adjudicatory observations in this case as well.

This Judgement is going to have huge bearing in the cases, wherein UGC has recently issued Notice to 10 Deemed Universities asking them to shut thier off-campuses. This Judgement basically nullifies the notice.

 

 

UGC fixes two-year time to clear backlog papers

Educational Institutions / Universities have been allowing courses to be completed in varying time spans. UGC with a view to maintain uniformity in the grace [span] period for completion of a degree programme has issued guidelines maximum grace period of two years beyond the scheduled date of completion. The guidelines were formulated after UGC constituted an expert committee to determine a uniform time period for completion of degree-level programmes.

The Guidelines provides that a student pursuing an undergraduate programme which normally runs for three or four years (for engineering courses), which may be further more for integrated course like 5 Year Law Course, would be given two more years to clear his back papers, leading to awarding of degree. Similarly, students at the post-graduate level would be given as many years to clear their backlog, if any, leading to award of degree.

However, the Guidelines, accommodates exceptional situation and allows the Educational Institutions to permit extension of one more year to the student to complete the backlog papers. This extension comes with the limitation that during this extended period, the student shall, however, be considered a private candidate and not be eligible for ranking.

These guidelines are subject to rules and regulations of statutory bodies and universities governing grant of degrees.

EduLegaL View:

The statue of UGC in its preamble itself prescribes “co-ordination and determination of standards” as one its main objectives, which finds its origin in Entry 66 of List 1 of the Constitution of India. This is a certainly step towards to maintain uniformity in standards.

However, the fact that it is “subject to rules and regulations of statutory bodies and universities governing grant of degrees” is my worry. Being subject would mean “it would be merely recommendation in nature and will not be mandatory”.

Also, whether these Guidelines covers, Distance Education or not, or needs to be seen?

This was also required from academic point of view as with introduction of Choice Based Credit System (CBCS), institutes need to regularly update their curriculum and a longer grace period would deprive deprive students of knowledge and skill as on the date of completing the degree course.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in | + 91 9225518255