New Delhi: From an institution located inside New Delhi’s National Museum to a 45-acre campus at Faridabad in Haryana, shock waves were felt in 44 deemed universities after the government told the Supreme Court on Monday that they do not deserve the status.
On Tuesday, human resource development minister Kapil Sibal said the government would protect the interests of an estimated 200,000 students whose future has been thrown into uncertainty.
“No student will suffer,” Sibal said. “And the government’s intention is not to put any student in problem. All students will get a university degree.”
The deemed university status gives institutes greater freedom from government control. On Monday, the government said in an affidavit that the 44 institutions, in 13 states, were being “run as family fiefdoms rather than on academic considerations”.
The affidavit was based on recommendations made by a committee headed by neurosurgeon P.N. Tandon and a special task force constituted by the Centre. The matter will come before the Supreme Court on 25 January.
Sibal said it was up to the apex court to suggest a course of action, and added that the process of withdrawing the status hadn’t yet begun.
“The deemed universities have the power to award a degree or diploma, set their own fees, choose and start their own courses and open branches all over India,” said A.K. Shrivastava, chairman of New Delhi’s Asia-Pacific Institute of Management.
“We are shocked by this,” said J.P. Gupta, vice-chancellor of the Jaypee Group-backed Jaypee Institute of Information Technology in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, one of the institutes whose deemed university status is under threat.
Students of Saveetha Institute of Medical and Technical Sciences, near Chennai, damaged computers and boycotted classes. The institution figured in the list of 44.
As estimated 50,000-plus students are studying in the 16 deemed universities in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry that have been recommended for withdrawal of the status.
“We are feeling aggrieved,” said N.C. Wadhwa, vice-chancellor of Manav Rachna International University in Faridabad in Haryana, which has 10,000 students on campus and runs 10 courses, including postgraduate programmes in business. “They (the Tandon committee) never bothered to inspect (our campus).”
Wadhwa said the University Grants Commission, or UGC, had granted Manav Rachna deemed university status in 2008, and its inspectors gave the institute a good report when they visited it in October.
Still, Sibal said it was a policy decision to abolish deemed universities. “Deemed universities will finally go. We are putting in place the required legislation,” he said.
The deemed universities that are stripped of the status will revert to the universities they were originally affiliated to in order to avoid jeopardizing the future of their students, the government’s affidavit said.
Specialised educational institutions have also been affected by the government’s decision.
In the National Museum, the 45-student Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology, one of its kind in South Asia, had concerned students milling around.
“It is news to wake up to in the morning,” said Saba Haq, 24, who is pursuing a postgraduate course. Her teacher, Anupa Pande, said the school had the highest academic standards and took in only a few students to a class to maintain quality.
The students at the institute said infrastructure such as a conservation laboratory were missing but the college hoped to shift to a new campus in one of New Delhi’s suburbs, which would have adequate facilities.
PTI contributed to this story.