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Private varsities may go national

The University Grants Commission plans to recognise private universities set up through Acts of Parliament for the first time under new regulations that remove a statutory obstruction to setting up private varsities nationally.

delhi Updated: Jan 02, 2011 00:27 IST
Charu Sudan Kasturi

The University Grants Commission plans to recognise private universities set up through Acts of Parliament for the first time under new regulations that remove a statutory obstruction to setting up private varsities nationally.

Private universities can be established either by an Act of Parliament or by a State legislation under the new regulations for private varsities finalised by the UGC, top government officials have told HT.

The current regulations require a private university to be set up only through State Acts. The finalised regulations are now being vetted by the HRD ministry, the sources said.

The move comes at a time when the government is keener than ever before to attract private investment in higher education to meet its ambitious target of 30% gross enrolment ratio in higher education by 2020. India’s GER in higher education currently stands at 12.4%.

Current UGC regulations on private universities, brought in 2003, specify that “each private university shall be established by a separate State Act” and shall “operate ordinarily within the boundary of the state” though in exceptional cases additional campuses can be allowed. The new regulations allow the establishment of private universities through Acts of Parliament too.

“The requirement of a State Act was in tune with the policy at the time which did not encourage private players to set up national universities. That perspective has changed and our rule books must reflect the change,” a senior HRD ministry official said.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has publicly stated that the government wants private participation in establishing 14 Innovation Universities proposed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh focused on cutting-edge research to help India emerge a global knowledge hub.

The government is arguing that despite unprecedented public expenditure on higher education, it alone cannot provide the number of colleges required to meet India’s GER target. Several top industrial houses have shown interest in setting up universities.