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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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 to be reviewed by UGC, Will it be Tandon Part- II?

It seems, healthy accreditation received by Deemed Universities by NAAC and a near sort of rejection of Tandon Committee by Supreme Court, has NOT gone well with UGC and it has again obviously acting on direction of MHRD decided to review the Deemed Universities.

No doubt, UGC, by virtue of UGC Act, 1956, the UGC Guidelines, 2000 and the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, has the power to cause inspection of the Deemed Universities, but the timing of movement and instruction by MHRD is bit suspect.

Earlier, in 2009, MHRD had set Tandon Committee, which after board room presentation without visiting the Universities and causing physical inspection graded the Deemed Universities in 3 Categories: A, B and C. According to Tandon Committee, “A” category satisfied the criteria of Deemed University, “B” Category had some deficiencies and were given 3 years time to improve and “C” Category allegedly having failed the criteria were recommended to be de-recognised. The challenge to the Tandon Committee and its findings is pending in Supreme Court.

While the one battle is yet to get over, grounds for another have been prepared. According to reports appearing in Media, this review is to see whether the Universities are adhering to the relevant rules, regulations. Other possible criteria would obviously include physical infrastructure, academics, amenities and facilities, library, resources, research, patent, quality of faculty, etc.

UGC wants to make a point and distinguish the NAAC evaluation saying that NAAC evaluation is only restricted only to academic, whereas UGC evaluation moves beyond it to see the compliance of rules and regulations, as Deemed Universities are brought into existence by a executive charter with certain conditions and should meet global standards.

Infact, as a first step, UGC has started collecting information from the Deemed Universities regarding its courses, off-campuses and constituents. Some of Deemed Universities in Karnataka have also received the intimation for review.

 EduLegaL View

We need to understand the basic difference between “review” and “inspection”. It seems UGC and MHRD both are confusing their “power of inspection” with “power to review”.

While the former is a routine exercise to keep a check on quality and is generally a welcome step but the latter should come into operation only in exceptional circumstances and it goes to the very existence of the University and should necessitate when it is confirmed that the Deemed University has failed to come up to expectation. “Review” cannot be an exercise en-mass, it creates un-necessary fear in the mind of educational institutions.

Moreover the exercise of checking quality should also remain qualitative and should not become quantitative. We have NAAC, NBA and then recently NIRF has come and now this review has come, the regulators need to ask a question to themselves, is this right?

Whatever be the motive, if UGC and MHRD wants to do a serious exercise, then it should follow some scientific procedure and should resort to cine-popular trick of sequel making and make this entire exercise, Tandon Part – II.

 AGEY, AGEY DEKHTE HAIN HOTA HAI KYA …..

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in