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40 deemed varsities don’t meet norms

The reason why HRD ministry and even the otherwise forthcoming minister Kapil Sibal do not want to talk about the report on deemed universities by its own review committee is because the panel has said that over 40 universities, most of them private, do not deserve deemed status.

Highly placed sources said the committee found only 38 deemed universities to have excellent infrastructure. The report said 44 could retain deemed status after improving certain aspects of infrastructure, research and administration. The rest, a little over 40, were beyond redemption and could not retain deemed university status.

Sources also said of the deemed universities that do not deserve deemed status, three were in Haryana, two each in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The bulk of deemed universities not found fit are in South India, especially Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Sources said universities that could still improve were likely to be given three years time.

The reason why ministry does not want to talk about the report, sources said, is due to the fact that it will find it impossible to take away the deemed status of any university. Another reason for ministry’s silence, they added, is that powerful politicians who run many of the deemed universities have been working to thwart any disciplinary action. Even legally, the ministry cannot take action as under the UGC Act, deemed status is given at the recommendation of UGC.

A similar process has to be followed in case of revocation of deemed status. But UGC’s review committee of deemed universities has not found fault with any of them. UGC has also forwarded its report in case of nearly 65 deemed universities to the ministry. This will further tie ministry’s hand from taking any action.

As already reported, the biggest inadequacy of deemed universities, according to the review report, is the manner in which they have started hundreds of study centres all over India. Fee and administrative structure of private deemed universities are totally unregulated and are run in a whimsical fashion, the report said.

A substantial section of the report deals with how higher education was being run as a business and academic and administrative posts were held by family members and relatives of promoters.

Research output of most private deemed universities, the report said, was sub-standard and did no find place in SCOPUS, the largest abstract and citation database which covers 16,500 peer-reviewed journals. A source said that during presentation, representatives of many universities did not know about SCOPUS. The idea to tally what the varsities claimed as research work with SCOPUS was mooted by Goverdhan Mehta, a member of the committee.

The report also found fault with government-run deemed universities, especially their administrative structure.

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