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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertising Council finds ads of major Coaching Institutes misleading

In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Coaching Institutes in print media as well as on their websites, engaged in field of Coaching Students for CAT, MBA, Law Entrance, Banking Examinations, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of January 2016 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have claims of Ranking in the Entrance Examinations, Number of successful students, Coaching and Learning Material Preparations and Contents, Test Series, Coaching Pedagogy to influence the aspirants to join their Institutes.

In January 2016, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Coaching Institutions which operate in MBA / Engineering / Law Domain relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in their Advertisements. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

1. CL Educate Ltd. (Career Launcher):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “CL, No.1 CAT coaching institute with 9629 IIM Calls in CAT’14. Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams“, “Best MBA prep for CAT, IIFT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP Exams” were not substantiated. The claims were misleading by exaggeration.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Undisputed market leader in the field of Mgmt Entrance Training”, was false.

C] CAT’16/17: The claim in the advertisement, “9629 IIM calls in CAT 2014”, was not adequately substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity and omission of mention of number of students.

2. Think & Learn Pvt. Ltd. (Byju’s Cat Coaching Institute):

A] The claims in the advertisement, “Best CAT Coaching Institute in Delhi”, and “CAT Coaching by India’s Best Trainers, Byju and Santosh”, were not substantiated.

B] The claim in the advertisement, “Join the best coaching for CAT and boost your CAT preparation”, was not substantiated.

3. TathaGat (MBA Entrance / CAT coaching): The claim in the advertisement, “TathaGat is Delhi’s most successful MBA Entrance / CAT coaching institute for last 5 years now”, was not substantiated.

4. Bulls Eye: The claims in the advertisement, “Highest selection/conversion ratio in the industry”, “Best free prep website in India”, “Bulls eye test series is the best” and “Best free MBA preparation website in India”, were not substantiated.

5] National Banking Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “No.1 institute for BANK & SSC”, was not substantiated.

6] Sriram Law Academy: The claim in the advertisement, “Sriram student secure All India 1st Rank for 12th year in a row!”, was not substantiated adequately and is misleading by ambiguity, as the advertiser does not mention the name of the test/exam in the advertisement, and has not submitted supporting data to prove that the photographs of students shown were actually 1st rankers and were from Sriram Law Academy.

7] Rice Education: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Training for Govt. Jobs Examination”, is an absolute claim and was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other institutes.

8] Adamas Career: The claim in the advertisement, “The Best Choice for Medical and Engineering Entrance Examination”, was not substantiated.

9] Shanti Business School: The claims in the advertisement, “100% Placements (misprinted as 1 0%)” and “Average Package – INR 4.65 LPA” were not substantiated and when read in conjunction, were grossly misleading by implication of availability of higher salary packages.

10] Mewar Classes (Crash Course): The claim in the advertisement, “No. 1 coaching in Bhilwara”, was not substantiated.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

EduLegaL View:

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Coaching Classes and Institutions have overgrown in India due to huge peer pressure and parental aspirations. It is one of the biggest sector, but still unregulated in majority part of the Country. It is high time that this sector is regulated.

Advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these coaching institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

SC issues Notice to Deemed Universities on Transfer Petition by MHRD relating to Deemed University Regulations, 2010

 

Supreme Court has issued Notice to Deemed Universities on a Transfer Petition filed by MHRD relating to transfer of Appeal filed by MHRD challenging the judgement passed by Karnataka High Court dated 22.05.2014, which quashed the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 as ultravires to UGC Act, 1956 and Constitution of India.

University Grants Commission in the year 2010, has notified University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010. The Deemed Universities felt that the Regulations interfered with the autonomy of the Institutions. The Regulations also in their view placed unreasonable restriction on rules relating to governance, admission, fee structure etc. Therefore, several Deemed Universities had challenged the provisions of the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010 in different High Courts in India.

Tamilnadu

The Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu made the first challenge. Though initially STATUS-QUO was granted in the matter, but later by a detailed Judgement, the challenge by Deemed Universities based in Tamilnadu was over ruled and the legality and validity of University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 was upheld. The Deemed Universities in Tamilnadu later challenged the Judgement pronounced by Single Judge before Division Bench. The matter is pending for determination before the Division Bench, however the Court has ordered that STATUS QUO will be maintained.

Karnataka

Following the suit, certain Deemed Universities in Karnataka also challenged the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 in Karnataka High Court. In some of the Petition there, stay was granted on the Regulations and some the Court was pleased to order STATUS QUO in favour of the Petitioner as against UGC and MHRD. Later vide detailed Judgement dated 22.05.2014 the Hon’ble Court declared University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010, was declared to be invalid and unconstitutional. UGC and MHRD have both filed appeals independently against the Judgement before Division Bench.

Punjab

One of the challenge was also filed before Punjab & Haryana High Court. The matter is pending consideration before the Hon’ble Court. Interim Order staying the Regulations have been passed.

Maharashtra [Aurangabad Bench]

Some of the Deemed Universities based in Maharashtra have also challenged the University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010. Though as understood, no Interim Order has been passed in the matter.

Matter Sub-Judice- but UGC keeps amending these Regulations

While Interim Stay is prevailing in one High Court and another High Court has quashed the Regulations, UGC continued to amend the Regulations from time to time, which raised a critical issue as to, did UGC had the legal competency to amend the Regulations, while Courts in India hearing cases relating to challenge and Interim Order restraining UGC from enforcing the Regulations were prevailing and the Regulations were quashed.

Transfer Petition in Supreme Court

MHRD has now filed Transfer Petitions before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Transfer Petition (Civil) Nos. 1555-1561 of 2014 seeking transfer of the cases relating to challenge to University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The Transfer Petition were called before the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 11.11.2014. The Supreme Court adjourned these matter on request of the Government to 18.11.2014. The matter was not listed thereafter for so many months.

Eventually, vide order dated 26.02.2014 and 29.03.2014 has issued notice on the Transfer Petition filed by MHRD. The notice is returnable in four weeks. The matter may now be listed on 29.04.2016.

EduLegaL View

University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulation 2010 applies to all the Deemed Universities. Different High Courts in India took different view of the Regulations resulting in conflict as regards its validity and applicability, as one High Court said it is valid and another said it is invalid.

It is appropriate that considering the universal applicability of the Regulations, the Highest Court of the country rules on its validity and legality, so that issue is settled once and for all.

But again MHRD has take half-effort. It has filed transfer petition in respect of Petitions filed in Karnataka only and not in respect of petitions filed in other High Courts. This will again leave vacuum in the Regulatory Regime.

But till then, the arguments will continue !!!!

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

UGC constitutes Committee regarding unauthorized Off Campuses of Deemed Universities

UGC has decided to constitute a 5 Member Committee to consider the issue related to the off-campuses established/started by some Institutions Deemed to be Universities without prior approval of UGC/Ministry of HRD.

On November 9, 2015, UGC, Higher Education Regulatory Authority in the Country had issued Notices to 10 Deemed Universities directing them to close down their off-campus, which have not been permitted / approved by UGC / MHRD.

The Institutes, which received notices were Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies University, BITS, Pilani, Indian School of Mines-Dhanbad, Banasthali University (Rajasthan), Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science & Technology, Indian Veterinary Research Institute (UP) and Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education-Gwalior.

The Notice created furor in the academic circles as it involved career of many students pursuing their education and several of those who have graduated. All the concerned Deemed Universities protested the Notice and also met the concerned officials and expressed their grievance.

However, BITS Pilani went on aggressive pitch and filed a Petition challenging the closure order before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. While seeking setting aside of the Order dated 09.11.2015, BITS, Pilani had also sought stay on the Notice. The Delhi High Court was pleased to direct the MHRD / UGC not to take any coercive step in the matter.

Later, by way of flaunted discrimination, an unauthorized off campus of a Government funded Deemed University was regularized.

UGC after considering the representation of all the concerned Deemed Universities has decided to constitute under the Chairmanship of Prof. H. Devaraj. Other members of the Committee are Prof. Mohammad Miyan, Prof. Sanjay Govind Dhande and Dr. K.N. Shanti.

As per UGC Deemed University Regulations, 2010 and Guidelines prevailing earlier, an Off Campus can be started only with the permission of UGC / MHRD as the case may be. It is the case of UGC / MHRD in respect of the stated Deemed Universities that no approval has been granted by UGC / MHRD and hence these campuses being illegal, should be shut down immediately.

EduLegaL View:

Another unfortunate example of historical functioning style, first create panic and chaos, then ask them to make representation and then appoint a Committee to look into the matter and then decide as it pleases you !

The action or rather ill-action of UGC was completely an ill-prepared action. After having given Deemed University/s “legitimate expectation” by not taking any action when they had full knowledge of existence of Off-Campus/es, UGC was disabled by principle of “promissory estoppel” from taking any action against the Deemed Universities much less abrupt closure of the running Institutions at the Off-Campus/es. But wisdom was not on their side and they took hasty decision.

The fate of the unfortunate order was known from the time it was issued and it has turned out to be as expected.

Ravi Bhardwaj | Founder & Principal Consultant, EduLegaL | mail@edulegal.in

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UGC’s Order to close alleged unauthorized Campus to BITS Pilani stayed by High Court

Making Energy Audit mandatory for Educational Institutions

 

Our country has been experiencing remarkable growth, both industrial and intellectual in last decade.  We all agree to a fact that any growth should be sustainable and inclusive in nature. Obviously, when we talk of growth, the stimulus for growth also becomes an integral part of the discussion. “Energy” or “Power” undoubtedly is one of the most important stimulus for growth and rank par is “Education”, which is indication of Human Resource Index of the Country.

Having said that “sustainability” can ensure that growth story is more enjoyable in terms of impact and longevity. I feel that considering the depleting character of natural resources, sustenance in terms of “Energy” becomes very critical. More particularly in education sector, as usage and consumption of energy in educational institutions is quite high and more often than not, in an unorganized manner. My idea is not paint the educational institutions in bad colour but to project the true picture.

In present scenario the energy conservation plays an important role. It is because consumption of energy is increasing day by day and the generation is not matching with it. The energy conservation helps in reducing the energy consumption and provide the savings. By adopting proper measures energy awareness to make the people aware the importance of energy the required result can be achieved.

Since, the advent of accounting practices, we have been used to the term “Audit”, which is generally used to study the manner and pattern of expenditure and also to point out the gray areas and suggest reformative measures.

It happened so that I was researching for legal audit, which I was about to conduct for an educational institution and I came across this noble concept of “Energy Audit of Educational Institutions”. After reading through some articles on Internet / Journals, I found that “Energy Audit” is a wide spectrum of energy study, which ranges from identifying major energy problem areas to implications of alternative energy efficient measures. It involves analyzing the actual consumption of electrical energy and measures of energy conservation. Energy Audit helps to understand more about the ways energy and fuel are used in any industry and help in identifying the areas where waste can occur and where scope for improvement exists.

India with the second largest population in the world is now one of the fastest growing economies with a rapid growth in GDP. In the past few decades the need for trained people is rapidly increasing in the industrial and other fields to support our countries technological growth. This has lead to the establishment of more and more technological and educational institutions in India. India has a large number of Universities, colleges, and other institutions and the number is growing rapidly in the past few decades.

It is well known that educational institutions consume resources like water, electricity; forest product’s and generates wastes like many industries. Establishment and operating of Universities are not covered by any of the environmental laws in India. As a result, the importance of making the Universities operate with self consciousness in the utility of resources inside the campus is least understood.

The educational institutes have a responsibility to become a role model for the nation to save energy and promote optimization. They should also develop and promote indigenous technology. They support a large number of faculties and training facilities which can be a good platform to raise the awareness and promote energy saving. The government run educational institutes should be more responsible towards energy saving and its proper management as they are the hub of all researches and innovations.

An energy study review of various international and national educational institutions indicates that 5-20% of energy can be saved. Some of the Reports that I have perused, of Aligarh Muslim University, National Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training, Chandigarh and National Institute of Technology, Kurushetra, really highlight of importance of Energy Audit in educational institutions. 

Business-Energy-Audit

These Reports have suggested several measures like increasing substation to reduce line losses, the conventional regulators to be replaced by power electronic regulators, Biogas can also be used for heating purpose in hostels and residences, Better ventilation in buildings will lead to greater cooling, Using of electric sensor doors and many more. These Reports really make an interesting reading and it is these Reports and literature available there, which has formed the content of this write up.

In India, it is not mandatory to perform energy auditing in educational institution as it is not in the list of designated (power) consumer. However, considering the importance of energy and its consumption in an educational institution, I wish to suggest that Energy Audit of Educational Institutions should be made mandatory.

To start, Audit can be made mandatory in all the Universities including Central University, State University and Deemed University, because the Universities have large cluster of students in particular students on residential campus, as Hostel Buildings are the main cause of energy wastage. Thereafter we can proceed to Residential Schools and Colleges. 

 

Infact, “Energy Management and Conservation Practices”, should be made an important parameter while granting recognition to an Institution. I also suggest that “Energy Management and Conservation Practices”, should also be one of the parameters for the purpose assessing an educational institution for accreditation or ranking under National Assessment and Accreditation Council, National Board of Accreditation and National Institutional Ranking Framework.

 

Save Energy ! Save Life ! Green India !

Ravi Bhardwaj | Founder and Principal Consultant | EduLegaL

mail@edulegal.in

 

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