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Andhra pvt varsity bill eyes a comeback
HYDERABAD : After a four-year gap the private university bill is back in the reckoning here. The trigger: a proposal by a top Delhi-based varsity to set up a centre in the State was shot down by the AP State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE) citing UGC norms.

The government has now taken matters into its own hands, directing officials to prepare a report on the Private Universities Bill.

The move has revived hopes of several players desperately seeking to convert their institutions into universities.

“They [private varsities] are more interested in escaping from government control to commercialise their admissions. How will a single institute pump a hundred crores to set up a varsity matching the best in the country when they are unable to maintain even minimum standards in their existing colleges,” an official said.

Though several States had earlier passed legislations — mandated by a Supreme Court ruling — allowing the entry of private universities, the initiative here was taken in 2006 during the
YSR regime. A committee was constituted to frame the guidelines and a bill was to be introduced in 2009.

But that did not materialise for various reasons, including the Chief Minister’s demise.
Social issues

Senior officials involved in the preparation of the draft said commercial exploitation by private universities and the social issues involved were discussed.
Government’s call

“We had submitted the draft report and it is for the government to take a policy decision now,” an official said.

Establishment of private universities was vehemently opposed by several political parties and also student organisations.

If commercial exploitation was a reason for the latter’s opposition, officials argued it would be difficult to regulate their activities.

A senior official admitted to the difficulty in controlling deemed universities that were exploiting students and violating UGC norms to run off-campus and distance education centres.

“The entry of private universities will further vitiate the atmosphere. It may also see a backlash from student unions increasingly growing militant due to the prevailing political conditions in
the State,” he averred.

On the other hand, institutes ready to enter the fray like the Malla Reddy Group, Aurora Institutions, Anurag institutions, CBIT and Holy Mary argue that the government should encourage
private institutes with strong regulatory mechanism in place for maintaining quality and leave their fate to students.


 Punjab private varsities want laissez-faire

By Our Correspondent
On September 6 the belligerent private universities of Punjab got united to oppose a Punjab government move to constitute a regulatory body to monitor functioning of private institutes.

The meeting was called by a Cabinet sub-committee to take stock of the situation where all private universities unanimously said that any regulator would have the “worst impact”.

The meeting was chaired by the Cabinet sub-committee head, health minister Brahm Mohindra, at Punjab Bhawan where chancellors of all private universities operating in Punjab and representatives of government universities too participated. Technical education minister Charanjit Channi and education minister Aruna Chaudhary also attended as members of the sub-committee.

The private universities challenged the regulatory body as “unconstitutional”, citing an order of the Himachal Pradesh high court on a similar body there. It must, however, be noted that the HC order quashing the regulatory body has since been stayed by the Supreme Court on an appeal by the state government.

“We are not against making a pro-student environment in the institutes of Punjab,” stressed Satnam Sandhu, chancellor of Chandigarh University and added. “But, before making any such regulatory authority, the government must keep in mind that in Himachal, the only state to have a regulatory body, their HC had termed this body as unconstitutional. Punjab must study the model of the hilly state where many institutes closed after the body came into existence seven years back.”

Chancellor of another university situated in Doaba said that the state’s move would affect private universities “the way industrial packages given to Himachal have led to shifting of industry from Punjab”. “If seats are capped through the regulatory body, private universities working in Punjab would not get a level-playing fields. How will we compete with states where there is no capping?” he asked. “Moreover, before becoming private universities, we were running colleges; the reason we chose to become universities was to get autonomy. Any regulator at the state level is an attack on our autonomy.”

Some want it!

According to sources not all private universities want to oppose the government move but their chancellors preferred to keep mum at the meeting.

“Some private universities even want capping of the seats to end the monopoly of two or three big players who are calling the shots at present in the education business. They are of the opinion that a regulatory body may provide all universities a level-playing field,” said a source who was in the meeting.

Sources in the government have told HT that some private universities exerted pressure to defer the proposal, and the formation of the cabinet sub-committee was a result of that.

All government-run universities representatives have hailed the proposal. “The regulatory body is the need of the hour as our private as well as government institutes must live up to the changing demands as per needs of the industry,” said Channi.

Supreme Court okays dissolution of CJM varsity
On September 13 last year the Supreme Court dismissed the special leave petition filed by Chandra Mohan Jha Foundation formally paving the way for the legal dissolution of the controversial privateCMJ University, Shillong university of Shillong.

The apex court passed the order after hearing the SLP filed by Chandra Mohan Jha challenging the Meghalaya High Court order and directed the Megalaya state government to follow the Governor’s order asking for dissolution of the CMJ University within three months.

The Court had referred to the June 12 direction of the then Governor R S Mooshahary who was also the Visitor of CMJ University, regarding the dissolution of the University as per Section 48 of the CMJ University Act, 2009.

Section 48 says that on identification of mismanagement and mal-administration, the State Government would issue directions for rectification to the University. If the directions are not followed, the State Government can take steps to wind up the University.

Mooshahary had earlier said that from established facts, it was clear that there has been mismanagement, mal-administration, indiscipline and failure in the accomplishment of the objectives of the University, apart from criminal liability.

Mooshahary had sought for the dissolution of the University in the interest of maintaining proper standards of higher education in the State. The State Regulatory Board for Higher Education had also accepted the recommendations of the Governor for closure of the University.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted a nine-member committee for the inspection of CMJU. Sources have informed that the UGC would be meeting on September 24 and submit its report on CMJU to the State Government.

The university's contention is that the Visitor - who is the head of the state machinery - has no authority to recommend for dissolution of the University even under the CMJ University Act.

The Governor as the Visitor of the University had earlier on June 12, recommended for closure of the University in accordance with Section 48 of the CMJ University Act, 2009, besides pointing several irregularities including functioning on the strength of a self-appointed chancellor without the approval of the visitor which is in gross violation of Section 14 (1) of the CMJ University Act, 2009 on the presumption of ‘deemed approval’ by the Visitor.

CID confiscates 4000 Ph.D theses from CMJ varsity

SHILLONG : On July 26 the CID sleuths raided the controversial CMJ University here and confiscated about 4000 Ph.D theses submitted for approval by various candidates. University sources say that about 6000 more remain at the university's Jorabat office.

 The calculation is rather simple — multiplying Rs 1.27 lakh by 10,000 — but the result, Rs 127 crore, is what boggles the mind. This is the approximate figure CMJ University may have allegedly been earned by doling out Ph.Ds to aspirants from all over India.

And that’s not all. The university apparently offered doctorates on all kind of subjects — from physical education to law, women’s studies to commerce, to name a few.

The private university, which went under the scanner after former Meghalaya governor and Visitor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary pointed out glaring inconsistencies in its administration, was raided again by CID sleuths on July 26. The raid at the university’s office at Laitumkhrah here was part of the ongoing investigation of the department after a FIR was filed against
the university by Mooshahary on April 26.

Reporters came across a hardbound thesis — Role of ICICI Bank in Housing Finance — a case study NCR — by Amit Naru. Inside, however, the subject changed — A Study of Emotional Intelligence and Self-concept of Kho-Kho Players and Non Kho-Kho Players, written by Sheikh Rafiq Afsar.

The department, which was acting in response to a FIR filed against the university by Mooshahary on April 26, seized around 4,000 theses which were submitted by PhD aspirants from all over the country.

There were others with titles like The Opinion Survey about Doping of Gujarat Sports Players, Marketing Low-Cholesterol Oil in Northern India, Marketing Strategies of Key Players in Soft Drink Industry — all pointing to the wide range of subjects the university covered under its PhD programme.

When reporters reached the university, some sleuths were busy compiling the seizure list, noting down the names of students, their guides and their theses.

A CID officer said they had seized around 4,000 theses. But that was not all. He said there were another 6,000 on the university’s campus at Jorabat in Ri Bhoi district which were yet to be seized. According to the university’s website, each student desiring to pursue a PhD programme would have to pay Rs 1.27 lakh.

“You might as well calculate the amount earned by the university from its PhD programme alone,” the CID officer said while taking note of a thesis, Corruption in India: Hurdles and Remedies. The officer also suspected that all these PhD theses were printed in Calcutta as the print and design were similar. However, it is still not clear as to how many PhD students have been awarded the degree from among the 10,000-odd students who have reportedly submitted their theses.

Mooshahary had earlier alleged the private university had awarded PhD
degrees to 434 students during 2012-2013, and enrolled 490 students for the PhD programme during the same academic year. However, at a later stage, Mooshahary had alleged that the university had awarded PhD degrees to more individuals in addition to the 434.

Later in the evening, deputy chief minister Roytre Christopher Laloo said the education department had issued a showcause notice to the university, asking it why it should not be dissolved.


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