Sibal cracks whip on two universities, halts ‘deemed status’ for others


New Delhi : The human resource development (HRD) ministry Thursday issued show-cause notices to two institutions in Tamil Nadu after media reports said their officials were seeking Rs.20-40 lakh for admission.

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In a decision with far-reaching implications, the government also put in abeyance all proposals from private institutions seeking the status of “deemed-to-be” universities while asking the University Grants Commission (UGC) to review the performance of the existing ones.

On the directives of new HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, show-cause notices were issued to the Ramachandra University and Shree Balaji Medical College of Tamil Nadu, whose officials were caught on camera by the Times Now television channel asking for ‘capitation fees’ of Rs.20-40 lakh in violation of laws.

The Shree Balaji Medical College, according to the media reports, is linked with Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting S. Jagathrakshakan of the DMK.

The ministry said in a statement that the private institutions have been asked why their “deemed-to-be” university status should not be withdrawn and other legal action not taken.

Sibal issued a directive to the UGC, which oversees higher education in the country, to put in abeyance all proposals from private institutions seeking the status of “deemed-to-be” universities.

The move comes after complaints for long from various quarters that such universities violated norms and managed to get the UGC recommendation by using their political connections, affecting quality of education.

The minister also directed the UGC to review the performance of all the 125 existing deemed universities and “report the deficiencies within three months”.

According to the UGC website, the most number of such universities, 29, are in Tamil Nadu, followed by 22 in Kerala, 21 in Maharashtra and 14 in Karnataka.

The UGC has been asked to examine if the universities stood up to the standards “especially with regard to the availability of qualified faculty and the infrastructure in the deemed-to-be-universities.”

It has also been asked to check if “the sanctity of the admission process for enrolment of students” was maintained.

To get a deemed university status, a private institution must follow the UGC guidelines for government universities.

The commission has already worked out a new set of regulations for the purpose.

Official sources said the UGC was ready with a new set of regulations to make these institutions accountable. It had submitted a proposal to this effect to the ministry three months ago.

The UGC envisages a regulation of the fee structure to prevent hefty hikes, ensure that such universities have proper infrastructure and that the admission process is above board.