Deemed universities, whose derecognition is sought by the central government, have decided to get together to float two lobby bodies and implead themselves in the case being heard by the Supreme Court.
According to Ishari K Ganesh, chancellor of Vels University in Chennai, two associations - one representing the interests of deemed universities in the state and the other a larger body to represent the interests of deemed universities in south India - will be formed and will implead themselves in the Supreme Court case.
The management of the 'doomed' universities in a meeting have called for the review of the Tandon Committee report based on which the central government has recommended withdrawal of deemed university status given by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
MK Padmanabhan, vice chancellor of Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, said the centre constituted two panels - the UGC committee and the Tandon Committee - to look into the functioning of the universities.
He said the UGC panel consisting of educational experts visited the campuses, while the Tandon panel just saw the power point presentations shown by the universities.
The UGC has accorded deemed university status to Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth and has given it five years time to establish itself.
In Tamil Nadu a sizeable number of deemed universities are run by politicians and their relatives and higher education has become a lucrative business in the state that turns out more than 100,000 engineers every year.
Though many of the deemed universities charge high fees, they lack the necessary infrastructure and are run like family businesses. Students are subjected to a strict regime. For example, girls and boys studying in the same college are not allowed to talk to each other within the premises.
The violent protests are seen as a result of the pent-up anger of the students who are not treated properly and subjected to a strict regime.
On Wednesday, the Salem-based Vinayaka Missions University and the Thanjavur-based Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Science and Technology University declared closure after violence broke out in their campuses and spilled into the streets.
The central government Monday told the Supreme Court that it was all set to divest 44 universities of their special "deemed university" status as they were being run as "family fiefdoms" rather than institutions of academic excellence.
Appearing for the central government, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium made this submission to a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Mukundkam Sharma during the hearing of a 2006 lawsuit, questioning the misuse of the deemed university status by a glut of educational shops.
Subramanium also told the bench that the government, however, has decided to let these universities revert back to become affiliated colleges of their original universities.
This is to avoid jeopardising the career of nearly 200,000 students studying in these institutions across 13 states, he told the court.
In an affidavit filed in the court, the union human resource development ministry said the government has also accepted the recommendations made by the high-powered PN Tandon committee, formed to probe the conditions of the deemed universities across the country.
"The Review Committee came across several aberrations in the functioning of some of the institutions deemed to be universities. It found undesirable management architecture where families rather than professional academics controlled the functioning of institutions," the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, most of the 44 deemed universities, failing to maintain their high standard of academic excellence, were offering post-graduate and undergraduate courses that are "fragmented with concocted nomenclatures" and seats "disproportionately increased" beyond the actual intake capacity.
The bench, during an earlier hearing in July last year had questioned the need for having deemed universities in the country in the wake of their mushrooming growth amid complaints that instead of imparting quality education, they have been fleecing students by commercialising it.
"Why deemed university at all? Don't you think the status of deemed university should be abolished in all the states?" the bench had asked, while directing the centre to file a detailed affidavit on the deemed universities and their conditions in the country.
The bench adjourned the matter after a brief perusal of the affidavit.