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 Higher Education : The Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I know that a university is valid?

A. A university is valid if it is established by an Act of Parliament or a state Assembly. If the University is established by an Act of Parliament then it is called a Central university but if it has been established by an Act of a state Assembly then it is called a state university. Both kind of universities are valid and have equal powers and responsibilities. For precise definition see Section 2 (f) of University Grants Commission Act, 1956

Q. What is a Deemed University ?

A. A Deemed University get its status from Section 3 of the UGC Act. It is a valid institution which can award degrees and has enough autonomy to draft its own curriculum. It cannot, however, affiliate a college or run a distance education course or open off-campus centres. Recently such institutions have been in much controversy. The Madras High Court has, in a recent judgement, went to the extent of terming deemed universities as a secondary grade institutions.

In the last five years there has been a mushroom growth of deemed universities and this prompted the UGC and the government to sit up. On January 27, 2009 the UGC approved draft regulations that seek to tighten the noose around deemed universities. A word of caution : think twice before joining a deemed university.

On March 31, 2009 the Central Information Commission (CIC) ruled that all deemed universities are public authority and hence come within the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The decision (No CIC/OK/A/2008/01098/SG/2550) was conveyed by Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi on an appeal by Mahavir Chopda of Mumbai against NMIMS University (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies) , Mumbai, when the latter refused to divulge information on the fee collected by it from students who had cancelled their admissions.

Q. What is the jurisdiction of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) ?

A. Technically all undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral level courses and institution of technical education in the country should come under the purview of AICTE. However, since we have a distinct entity called the UGC for the university system, the AICTE Act (Section 2 (h)) has claimed its jurisdiction over technical institutions only. According to the AICTE Act a "technical institution" means an institution, not being a University, which offers courses or programmes of technical education and includes such other institutions as the Central Government may, in consultation with the AICTE, declare as technical institutions. The definition, is indeed vague and if you read it with Section 2 (l) of the Act the problem become all the more acute. Section 2 (l) of the AICTE Act relies on the UGC Act for the definition of a university and includes a deemed University.

In fact the AICTE jurisdiction was debated thread-bare in the Supreme Court in Bharathidasan University vs AICTE case. The Court in its judgement, spared the deemed universities from the purview of the AICTE, thereby giving them the freedom that they had been aspiring for. Of late this freedom has been blatantly abused, leading to student unrest in Tamil Nadu. Beware of deemed universities!!!  



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