Like the Lord, the government giveth and the government taketh away. The latest example of this is the decision to de-recognise 44 deemed universities, which have around two lakh students on their rolls. A review committee of the human resource development ministry has recommended revocation of deemed status to 44 universities and given 44 others three years to correct their anomalies. The government has put the onus on the affected institutions to get affiliations with other universities to ensure that the students don’t suffer. In case the institution is unable to secure an affiliation, the government airily recommends that students can opt to migrate to other institutions. And as for the costs involved, the de-recognised institution is expected to pay up.
Predictably a task force has been set up to look into all these complications. This is cold comfort to the students who have been hit by the directive since it is no secret that task forces have rarely come up with any worthwhile suggestions in time to salvage any situation like this. The government’s promise, that it will ensure that the students don’t suffer, sounds like noble philosophy but without any workable plan of implementation. Whatever the outcome of this present crisis, it is time to seriously re-examine the criteria for deemed university status.
It is passing strange that the very government that grants deemed university status to institutions finds them wanting later. This means that the criteria are elastic and that there is no feasible regulator to ensure that these outfits stick to the straight and narrow. Such problems only serve to erode faith in the higher education system. Given the painfully slow pace at which things move, it is unlikely that the students affected will be holding their breath for redressal from the government.
It is quite possible that the road ahead will be marred by litigation and further chaos and confusion. The government admits it has no power to ensure that deemed universities must secure affiliation with other universities. Which makes it all the more inexplicable as to why they were granted this status without far more rigorous scrutiny in the first place. It is no secret that many such institutions belong to politicians, a fact that no doubt made it easier to bend the rules. The last priority for the government seems to be the students with whose lives it is playing ducks and drakes. They are the fulcrum of the education system, not an incidental or dispensable part of it. It is little wonder then that many are willing to literally risk their lives to go abroad and earn degrees in dodgy educational institutions.