The regulator of higher education in India, the University Grants Commission, plans to rein in skyrocketing fees in Deemed Universities and make their controversial admission process transparent.
The Deemed Universities —127 of them in all and all fiercely protective of their independence — will resist any attempt to regulate them. They are known to have gone to court to keep the government at bay.
But the commission is determined.
“Most complaints against Deemed Universities are of no transparency in admissions and unreasonably high fees,” said commission chairman S K Thorat in an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times. (Interview on Page 9)
“No government regulations are applicable to institutions run by Deemed Universities,” said Thorat.
A deemed university is called so because it is not created by legislation – either by the Union government or a state government – which is a necessary qualification for an institution to be called a university. Close to three lakh students study at the country’s Deemed Universities.
The 127 Deemed Universities run around 200 medical, engineering and management colleges around the country. Some of the well-known ones are Manipal University, Karnataka; Bharatiya Vidyapeeth and Narsee Monjee Institute for Management Studies, Mumbai.
Some of these are in danger of losing their status if they are found lacking during a review ordered by the new human resources minister Kapil Sibal as reported last week by this newspaper.
Here is how the University grants Commission plans to regulate their admissions and fees, according to a comprehensive plan ready for final discussions on June 22.
Thorat said they have a choice as far as admissions go: either pick up 80 per cent of their students from the existing all-India engineering and medical tests or they can start their own examination system.
The remaining 20 per cent of the seats can be in the management quota, to be filled as they please – against capitation fee or any other method or system. A panel on fee has made this recommendation to the commission.
On fees, this same panel said Deemed Universities could be asked to come under the ambit of state level fee fixation committees or a new all-India level committee.
“Such regulation would be bad in law,” said Ramdas M Pai, president of Manipal University, adding, “the government should monitor admissions and fees, through a committee, rather than regulating it.”
Dr Shivajirao Shripatrao Kadam, Vice-Chancellor of Bhartiya Vidyapeeth, said too much government regulation leads to corruption and is bad for private institutes.
This is not for the first time the government is trying to control fee and admissions in private institutions. In its bill to introduce reservation in the private institutions, the HRD ministry had a chapter on fee regulation and admissions. The bill was scrapped following stiff opposition from Deemed Universities and private self-financing professional colleges.