New Delhi: The Union government on Tuesday announced new norms for deemed universities that allow more academic, administrative and regulatory freedom for these institutions that are largely run by private education providers.
The new rules—Deemed University Regulations, 2016—do not insist on a minimum area of land required for an institution to be declared a deemed university, a status of autonomy granted to educational institutions by the human resource development (HRD) ministry.
Instead, the institutions must have at least 40% open space within the built-up area and separately specify space needs for academic and non-academic buildings.
As per the old rules, five acres are required for an institution in cities. In tier-II cities, it is seven acres, and in rural areas, 10 acres.
“We have kept in mind the land issue while formulating the new rules,” said higher education secretary V.S. Oberoi.
Yielding to the demands of private deemed universities, the government has also allowed the promoter of such an institution to be its chancellor.
As per the new rules, a deemed university must revise its course curricula every three years to be in sync with changing needs.
Oberoi said specialized deemed universities, popularly called the de-novo category, can be opened with a letter of intent and they shall be allowed a period of three years to fulfil the requirements of the new deemed university regulations.
“Higher education requires a lot of investment and we thought it best to give ceratin amount of flexibility. But quality will not be compromised,” he said.
He said institutions that have won A grade from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council—an autonomous body that assesses and accredits institutions of higher education in India—for two cycles of accreditation (10 years) can be given deemed university status as against 15 years proposed by the University Grants Commission (UGC). To reduce government interference in the functioning of deemed universities, Oberoi said, “Government will have nominees on only those deemed universities which are controlled by the government or have more than or equal to 50% (government) funding.”
It means nearly 85 of the 123 deemed universities will not have a nominee from the HRD ministry on their management board and finance committee.
Credits earned by students under one deemed university can be transferred to another, say the new regulations.
The government has also allowed deemed universities to open off-campus centres after five years of existence. While a private deemed university can open six such campuses, the government ones will have no ceiling on off-campus centres.
Though the move will help many deemed universities, it may not settle the off-campus controversy of 10 reputed institutions, including Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani.
In November last year, UGC wrote to these institutions asking them to shut down their off-campus centres for allegedly “violating” the stipulated number of off-campus centres allowed under the Deemed University Regulations, 2010.
The institutions approached the HRD ministry, saying that they did not flout the rules as the campuses were set up before the regulations on off-campus centres were drafted.
BITS got a court stay order on the UGC directive.
BITS Pilani acting vice-chancellor V.S Rao had last week said that his institution will take the legal case to its logical conclusion. The next hearing in the case will be in July.
The new regulations will supersede the old rules, the higher education secretary said, declining to comment on specific institutions as the matter is sub judice.
Prashant Bhalla, president of Manav Rachna International University, a deemed university in Haryana, said the changes will allow genuine private education players a better play in education and allay the “fear of regulations”.
Separately, the HRD ministry has also fixed the duration for M.Phil and Phd courses. From now on, PhD courses will be for a duration of three to six years and M.Phil for one to two years. The duration has been relaxed for female and disabled candidates by two years for PhD and one year for M.phil courses.
Among other rules, the ministry has asked professors and associate professors to teach 18 and 16 hours a week, respectively—two more than before.