Deemed, Derecognized and Doomed

Panic, frustration and fear of an uncertain future loomed over thousands of students across the country caused by the proposal to de-recognize deemed universities. This move has triggered wild and violent reactions in states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Students see a blurred future and are apprehensive if they would be able to pursue any further studies. They repent having spent money and time at these universities to no avail.

It started on November 28, 2007 when a bench of justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandari asked the Centre whether it had framed guidelines or regulations to govern foreign universities placing advertisements in India on the courses and degrees offered by them. After maintaining a long silence on the issue, the Centre followed a study of 126 deemed universities across the country. While 38 were found doing a good job, 44 others were given a three years to improve and 44 declared completely unfit. The affidavit filed by Ministry of Human Resource and Development said the government has accepted the recommendations made in this regard by the high-powered P N Tandon committee and the Special Task Force set up to suggest measures to tackle the problem. However, to avoid jeopardizing the future of nearly two lakhs students enrolled in these universities spread over 13 states, they would be allowed to revert back as affiliated colleges of their original universities, the Centre had said on 18th January,2010 in an affidavit. Currently, the UGC (University Grants Commission) is barred from providing certification to any university. The next hearing in the Supreme Court is to take place on 8th March.

The committee members who are educated people of unquestionable integrity and are concerned about the way these universities run. They are like ‘shops selling degrees’, violating reservation norms, admitting students beyond their sanction strength and charging exorbitant fees. Instead of looking at education as a philanthropic activity, they run as family fiefdoms claiming to impart ‘education’ to students. They have an undesirable management architecture and lack professional academicians.

Deemed universities are notorious for carrying out corrupt activities. Most parents are desperate that their children become engineers, doctors or lawyers. What if the incapable child fails the entrance exam to a recognized and reputed university? There is the option of a ‘paid seat’. Is this imparting quality education on the basis of merit? Is such a degree even legitimate?  Is the criterion for entrance to these institutes a competition for knowledge or wealth?

This move might seem to destroy the future of about 2 lakh students enrolled in deemed universities but it is certainly a step towards reformation of the educational system. HRD minister, Kapil Sibel reassured the students that this would not perish their future. The Centre has also made it clear that students enrolled in these 44 institutions at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, in addition to those doing research in M.Phil and Ph.D. programmes and students pursuing distance education programmes, would continue their studies as the colleges would still be affiliated to the universities to which they were earlier affiliated.

Though this is a bold step by ministry of HRD in improving our higher education it puts a question mark on reputed bodies like AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education), UGC. The government should keep a check on the malpractices that have crept in these bodies. I hope this is an eye opener for parents and students.

Pragya Goel