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Flip-Flop Trauma for 44 Deemed Universities and Lakhs of students, parents, faculty and others associated with them



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Flip-Flop Trauma for 44 Deemed Universities and Lakhs of students, parents, faculty and others associated with them


Net url: http://eklavyasai.blogspot.in/2014/03/flip-flop-trauma-for-44-deemed.html



Last updated on 5th March 2014

Over the past few months, off and on, there have been articles in The Hindu about Supreme Court being involved in deciding the fate of 44 deemed universities (and lakhs of students associated with them) whose deemed university status had been recommended to be withdrawn by the Tandon committee report (dated 2009).

Today's The Hindu carries an article on it, A prescription for the ailing education sector,  http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-prescription-for-the-ailing-education-sector/article5747144.ece.

A small extract:

"The Supreme Court’s 2014 new year order in the form of a University Grants Commission (UGC) review of 44 deemed universities has ensured more mental trauma for lakhs of students and applicants. Though it has not approved or disapproved of the infamous Tandon Committee, it has made a statutory body, the UGC, subservient to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD)." [A lakh is one hundred thousand.]

So, as I understand it, now the outcome of the UGC review will have to be awaited.

From the article I gather that the legal challenge to the Tandon committee's constitution and method of grading of these deemed universities started in 2009 itself. And now it is 2014 with no decision yet.

I wondered whether the list of these 44 universities could be obtained (as I don't think The Hindu provided that). Interestingly I found that the entire Tandon committee report is available on the net here: http://www.iiitb.ac.in/Tandon%20Committee%20report.pdf (129 pages).

The list of these 44 universities is Table III starting on page 27 in pdf file but numbered page 25 in the document footer. Table III universities are described as "those institutions deemed to be universities which, neither on past performance nor on their promise for the future, have the attributes, in our considered opinion, to retain their status as universities"

The earlier pages contain Table I deemed universities described as 'those institutions which, on an aggregate of their achievements and performance as well potential, justify their continuation as "deemed universities"' and Table II deemed universities described as 'those, which on an aggregate we find to be deficient in some aspects which need to be rectified over a three year period for them to transit in to the first category referred here for their continuation as "deemed universities"'

I think removing the status of deemed university for so many universities at one go is not an easy thing to do. I mean, it is one thing to derecognize an educational institution for matters like fraud but to derecognize educational institutions, a drastic action, on the basis of quality will naturally invite legal and other (say, political) challenges on the method of assessment given the negative impact on the large number of people (students, parents, faculty, non-teaching staff, university investors/management boards) associated with these institutions. Perhaps a more practical solution is called for which will balance need for good education quality with protecting the interests of lakhs of students and others already committed to such deemed universities.

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An update:

The author of The Hindu article (as some may have noted from the article credits), Prof. R. Sethuraman, is vice-chancellor of SASTRA university (SASTRA stands for Shanmuga Arts, Science, Technology & Research Academy and is located in Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu).

This deemed university is listed in Table II (entry 36) [BTW the well known or well advertised Vellore Institute of Technology is next at entry 37 in the same table].

It seems that Prof. Sethuraman has been writing on this matter for a few years now. This letter to the HRD minister from Prof. Sethuraman questioning how SASTRA university got a score that it considers poor, is dated March 2010, http://www.sastra.edu/index.php/component/content/article/31-runninig-news/992-important-news-tandon-committee-report-on-deemed-universities-sastras-clarification. I wonder whether the Tandon committee responded to it. Probably not - I think these committees would not take kindly to being questioned openly.

Another point I noted is that Table III which has the deemed universities threatened with withdrawal of deemed university status has 16 such universities from Tamil Nadu (out of a total of 44)! Table II has 11 universities from Tamil Nadu (out of a total of 44 again). [Tamil Nadu is a state in South India with Chennai as its capital.] Perhaps Prof. Sethuraman is actively writing challenging the Tandon committee report, in some sense, on behalf of these 27 deemed universities of Tamil Nadu alone (besides some other deemed universities listed in tables III and II). [Note that Table II universities are expected to rectify their deficiencies in three years from the date of the report (2009) by the Tandon committee, and so they are not off the hook like the Table I deemed universities.]

BTW Table I deemed universities (list) has some famous educational institutions like IISc. Bangalore, TIFR Mumbai, TISS Mumbai and BITS Pilani.

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Further update:


This March 2010 article, "Deemed universities: ---",  http://www.educationworldonline.net/index.php/page-article-choice-more-id-2156, gives a lot of data and some views about the uproar from the blacklisted by the Tandon committee 44 deemed universities in early 2010 itself. Some notes from the article:

  • On Jan 18th 2010 HRD ministry proposed to Supreme Court withdrawal of deemed university status of these 44 universities based on the Tandon committee report.

  • Violent protests erupted from students

  • On Jan. 25th 2010 Supreme court ordered HRD ministry to "cease and desist" staying the order until the deemed universities (and its students) presented their arguments to the Supreme court.

  • [BTW the Tandon committee had some very eminent academics: Prof. Tandon a prof. emeritus of neuro-surgery at AIIMS, Prof. Goverdhan Mehta a former director of IISc., Prof. Anandakrishnan a former vice-chancellor of Anna University and now chairman of IITK and Prof. Mrinal Miri former vice-chancellor of North Eastern Hill University, Shillong. The fifth member (convener) was senior bureaucrat from Dept. of Higher Education, MHRD.]

  • The blacklisted universities case, the article states then, was expected to question the process of derecognition. It seems that the decision was taken based on a questionairre response from the varsities and a 10 minute presentation! The committee did not visit the campuses of the varsities to check the supposed poor infrastructure and/or poor academic teaching & research standards! [Ravi: I know that some decisions of some Indian academic administrators and regulators are rather arbitrary and dictatorial. But I am shocked by this reported lack of due process for as drastic a step as derecognition of a university. One form and 10 minute presentation! I mean, are we living in 21st century India or some 19th century British Raj! Did MHRD think that the 44 deemed universities would quietly accept their 'firman' (diktat) to close down their university setup and affiliate their campuses to other universities? Of course, they would go to court to challenge the decision.]

  • India has 127 deemed universities of which 90 were conferred the deemed university status in the period from 1999-2009.

  • But a UGC committee gave these very same 44 blacklisted deemed universities a clean chit! The UGC committee made visits to these universities for their review (unlike the Tandon committee).

  • Some doubts (political influence?, corruption?) seem to have been raised about the UGC review committee due to which (it seems) MHRD formed the Tandon committee.

  • HRD minister ordered a freeze on new deemed universities. 225 proposals were under consideration then.


[Ravi: I think the HRD ministry may have taken a calculated gamble by constituting the Tandon committee and then proposing withdrawal of deemed university status to these 44 universities. They would have known that this would get challenged in court. But MHRD would have made their point about not accepting the UGC review committee's views and putting deemed universities on notice about their academic performance. (While I understand that MHRD funds UGC, the latter has been created by an act of Parliament and so may be in a position to chart a different course from what MHRD desires. Also there may be different political influences in UGC and MHRD.)

Further, MHRD was able to freeze new deemed universities. Otherwise by now India may have had an additional 100 or so deemed universities with at least some of them having poor academic setup.]

Sunday, May 4, 2014




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