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

 

Failed by Tandon Committee, passed by NAAC

Finally, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC)  has brought some good news to several students of 38 Deemed Universities, which were sought to be de-recognised on the basis of the Tandon Committee report, as NAAC has assessed and graded these Deemed Universities after assessment by a robust scientific procedure.

In the year 2006, one Viplav Sharma, had filed a PIL in Supreme Court challenging the manner in which Deemed University status was granted to the Institutions u/s 3 of UGC Act, 1956. During the course of proceedings, MHRD had appointed a Committee headed by Dr. P N Tandon to review the  functioning of the Deemed Universities in  India.

In October 2009, a committee of experts, headed by PN Tandon, reviewed deemed universities and classified those under three categories, firstly 38 deemed universities which justified their continuation, second 44 deemed universities which needed to rectify deficiencies over a three year period and thirdly another 44 deemed universities which the committee felt don’t have the quality to continue the status and were recommended to de-recognised.

These 44 Deemed Universities then rushed to Supreme Court challenging the findings of the Tandon Committee and also the legality / validity of appointment of Tandon Committee. The case then continued for next 6 years, with clod looming large on the existence of these Deemed Universities.

The Supreme Court in the year 2014 without setting aside the Tandon Committee had asked UGC to consider the Reports and submits its own findings. Later, UGC was also taken to task by the Supreme Court for the manner in which it assessed the Deemed Universities, which was similar to that of Tandon Committee.

 

Eventually vide its Order dated 23.04.2015, SC had directed the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to decide within two weeks the matter of accreditation of deemed universities, who were placed under category ‘C’ by the P N Tandon committee and were recommended for de-recognition of deemed status.

The direction of the Apex Court was significant in light go the fact that NAAC Executive Committee on January 5, 2013 that the council shall not assess and accredit the deemed universities whose cases are pending before the Supreme Court and will wait for the court’s decision.  The time for assessment and accreditation was extended from time to time on request by NAAC.

Finally on 08.09.2015, in a significant order, Supreme Court exempted the Deemed Universities to making a statement of compliance in respect of UGC [ Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2010, as the validity and legality of the Regulations was under challenge before judicial forums.

Resultantly, the C Category Deemed Universities submitted themselves to the process of assessment and accreditation. NAAC assesses Institutions on seven criteria as part of the assessment procedures:   1] Curricular Aspects;  2] Teaching-Learning and Evaluation 3] Research, Consultancy and Extension 4] Infrastructure and Learning Resources 5] Student Support and Progression 6] Governance, Leadership and Management 7] Innovations and Best Practices.

Institutions are graded for each Key Aspect under four categories, viz. A, B, C and D, denoting Very good, Good, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory levels respectively. The summated score for all the Key Aspects under a Criterion is then calculated with the appropriate weightage applied to it and the GPA is worked out for the Criterion. The Cumulative GPA (CGPA), which gives the final Assessment Outcome, is then calculated from the seven GPAs pertaining to the seven criteria, after applying the prescribed weightage to each Criterion.

On the last hearing on 19.11.2015, the Court was informed that accreditation process has been completed. The Court then directed NAAC to publish the gradation result on its website.

In compliance of the order, NAAC has published the accreditation result of the Deemed Universities.

17 out of 38 Deemed Universities, which were recommended to be de-recognised by Tandon Committee has secured Grade “A”. 20 Universities have achieved Grade “B” and One University has been awarded “C” Grade.

EduLegal View:  

This conclusively proves that the “drawing room” method of out-sourced assessment by Tandon Committee was completely flawed. Eventually, the law of the country prevailed and Institutions have been given justice after long tiring struggle of 6 years.

In true words, meaning, mandate and manifestation of law and supremacy of a regulator has been achieved.

UGC appoints Committee to inspect 7 Deemed Universities on SC direction

UGC following the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India passed on 26.09.2014 has decided to appoint a Committee to inspect 7 Deemed Universities, which were found to be unfit to continue as Deemed University, in the Report submitted by its Sub-Committee headed by Mr. H Devraj.

Earlier, the Supreme Court in its Order dated 26.09.2014 had taken exception to the methodology adopted by UGC of presentation and photographic representation to evaluate the Deemed Universities and had directed UGC to conduct physical inspection and submit Report within 12 weeks.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court disapproving the process of assessment by photographs and presentations observed in its order dated 26.09.2014 had observed as under:

“ The singular grievance that has been agitated in the aforesaid I. As. is   that   the       UGC instead of taking recourse to physical inspection of the concerned institution, have adopted an innovative modus operandi by inspecting   through     photographs and video camera. We cannot conceive of such a situation.

 In our considered opinion, inspection would mean in all its connotative expanse physical inspection from all scores and spectrums. Neither the petitioners can have a restrictive or constricted meaning on the same nor the UGC can put a gloss over it. A physical inspection is fundamentally a physical inspection and we so repeat at the cost of repetition.”

While disapproving the process of photographs and video-presentations, the Apex Court directed UGC to inspect the institutions, who had filed Applications within a period of 12 weeks. It also directed that after the inspection is conducted, UGC shall point out the defects/defaults to the concerned Institution allowing them reasonable time to rectify the same.

UGC in its meeting dated 17.10.2014 discussed the modalities for implementation of the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and so also of the inspection and decided to constitute a Committee, which would be headed by Prof. Dr. Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Secretary, UGC. Other members of the Committee include, Shri S P Goyal, Joint Secretary, MHRD, Prof. Dr. O P Kalra, Prof. Dr. M P Poonia, Prof. Ramesh Dadhich.

UGC has also resolved that the Committee should endeavor to submit the Report within the time frame stipulated given by the Supreme Court, which was 12 weeks from 26.09.2014.

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SC disapproves UGC process of inspection by photographs and video-camera

UGC, the apex regulator of Higher Education in the country has found itself in line of fire from the Apex Court of the Country.

While hearing Petitions filed by some Deemed Universities, Supreme Court had earlier sought response from UGC as to modus operandi followed for assessment of Deemed Universities. It was hearing Application questioning the process of assessment of UGC by aid of photographs and presentations.

The matter after being adjourned on 23.09.2014 and 25.09.2014, was heard finally on 26.09.2014.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court disapproving the process of assessment by photographs and presentations observed in its order dated 26.09.2014 as under:

“ The singular grievance that has been agitated in the aforesaid I. As. is   that   the  UGC instead of taking recourse to physical inspection of the concerned institution, have adopted an innovative modus operandi by inspecting through photographs and video camera. We cannot conceive of such a situation.

 In our considered opinion, inspection would mean in all its connotative expanse physical inspection from all scores and spectrums. Neither the petitioners can have a restrictive or constricted meaning on the same nor the UGC can put a gloss over it. A physical inspection is fundamentally a physical inspection and we so repeat at the cost of repetition.”

While disapproving the process of photographs and video-presentations, the Apex Court directed UGC to inspect the institutions, who had filed Applications within a period of 12 weeks. It also directed that after the inspection is conducted, UGC shall point out the defects/defaults to the concerned Institution allowing them reasonable time to rectify the same.

The Apex Court has further clarified that it is only after some reasonable time has been granted to the inspected University to rectify the defect, the Report shall be submitted to Central Government and the Court.

EduLegaL View:

The Central Government relying on the photographs and presentations method of P N Tandon Committee painted an ugly picture of Deemed Universities in India for last 5 years. Did it ever make sense??? The Deemed Universities suffered.

It is now bye bye Tandon Committee and Task Force !! 

UGC submits report on Deemed Universities

UGC considered report submitted by its Sub-Committee headed by vice-chairman H. Devraj that examined the 41 Deemed Universities, which were de-recognised by the HRD Ministry, following Report of Tandon Committee.

The Sub-Committee has upgraded 34 of the Deemed University and has recommended that either some of them satisfy the criterion of being a Deemed University or some of them, though can continue to be a Deemed University, needs to take certain corrective steps.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide order dated 21.01.2014 had directed UGC to examine all the reports including Tandon Committee Report and submit report within 8 Weeks. However, Supreme Court extended the time line from time on request from UGC.

Later on request from UGC to visit all the concerned Universities, Supreme Court again extended the time. However, UGC dropped the idea of the visit and constituted a 4 member committee to examine into the Reports and also to call for presentation and information from the aggrieved Deemed Universities.

Some of the Deemed University later challenged this approach of UGC before Supreme Court and UGC has been directed to file its reply. The matter will be heard today in Supreme Court.

Whatever happens, some light to many after years of darkness, the argument may continue!

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SC questions the Assessment Process of UGC of 41 Deemed Universities

EduLegaL, while reporting the earlier development of regarding constitution of Committee by UGC to assess the Deemed Universities on basis of presentation , it had raised a question:

“ Is UGC doing the same mistake, as was done by Tandon Committee? The main allegation against Tandon Committee was that it was an ARM CHAIR REPORT prepared on basis of Power Point Presentation and Speech Skills and not inspection / visit to the Campus of the Universities. UGC had approached Supreme Court seeking extension of time with the plea to inspect the Deemed Universities. Where is that inspection? UGC should inspect the Campuses and then submit a Report. A Report prepared on basis of Power Point Presentation and Speech Skills generally cannot reflect the true position.”

It seems that the apprehensions of EduLegaL has come true, as some of the Deemed Universities have questioned the assessment process adopted by UGC before Supreme Court primarily consisting of presentations and video recordings.

The Deemed University matter was listed before Supreme Court on 19.09.2014 and lawyers appearing on behalf of the Deemed Universities informed the Supreme Court that review done by UGC is flawed as it is done on basis of audi-video presentation and not physical inspection.

The Supreme Court has directed UGC to reply by Tuesday. The matter will now again come up for hearing on 23.09.2014. In the meanwhile, UGC is also considering the report submitted by its Sub-Committee in its meeting to held on 22.09.2014. In the light of developments on 19.09.2014, UGC’s meeting becomes an all-important affair.

It was reported in the media, the said Committee, which followed the same process as that of Tandon Committee almost, concurred with the findings of the Tandon Committee.

Earlier, when UGC was granted time by the Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its order dated 05.05.2014, it was granted for the purpose of physical verification of the infrastructure and campus of the Deemed Universities. Later UGC changed its approach and decided to hold the review on basis of presentation, which is not correct approach.

Over to the Hon’ble Supreme Court for hearing on 23.09.2014 – Let us see !!!

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SC extends time till Sept. 30, asks UGC to complete assessment of C Category Deemed Universities

The Supreme Court on Friday granted time till September 30 to the University Grants Commission to complete the assessment of 41 Deemed Universities, which were placed in C Category by Tandon Committee.

While passing Interim Order on 21st January 2014, the Supreme Court had granted 2 months’ time to UGC to complete the assessment and submit the Report.

Later, UGC preferred an application before the Court and expressed its desire to visit the University Campus for the purpose of assessment and the request was accordingly allowed by Supreme Court in its order dated 5th May 2014. In such case, the time limit was further allowed till 31st July 2014.

UGC while discussing this issue on 13th June 2014 decided to constitute a Committee to undertake assessment of the 41 Category ‘C’ Institutions Deemed to be Universities. All the 41 C Category Deemed to be Universities were to appear before the Committee to make a video presentation of their institution and to respond to any queries. The Commission was to assess the presentation of each Deemed to be University and arrive at reasoned conclusion.

Later in its meeting on 22nd July 2014, it transpired that though the Sub-Committee had completed the hearing of all the 41 Institutions Deemed to be Universities; however, it was in the process of preparing its recommendations which was likely to take some more time. It was accordingly decided that a request may be made before the Hon’ble Supreme Court for further extension of two months time beyond 31st July, 2014 for submission of advice by the UGC to the Government of India.

A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Vikramajit Sen heard the application of UGC seeking extension of time and passed following orders:

This is an application for extension of time to comply with the order. Having heard learned counsel for the parties, time stands extended till September 30, 2014. Needless to say no further extension shall be granted.”

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has been clear in its observation that this is the last extension, which is being granted.