The Delhi high court has directed the University Grants Commission (UGC) to add Amity University to its website and has asked the commission to inspect the private college and point out any problems in its programmes.
Observers say the decision could lend more credibility to Amity, which boasts degrees in subjects from management to fashion to nanotechnology. The university has repeatedly requested the listing and then filed a petition in the court.
“UGC is a public body and performs public functions and, although it has discretion in maintaining or not maintaining a list of universities, once the discretion is exercised, it must be reasonable and not arbitrary,” the court said.
Amity filed the petition six months ago after repeated requests that the commission add its name to the list, said Amity chancellor Atul Chauhan in a telephone interview.
The chairman of UGC did not return a message requesting comment. The vice-chairman’s office referred comment to the commission’s secretary, whose phone rang unanswered.
Amity students have faced difficulty in getting into foreign universities and obtaining recognition from professional societies, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the Indian Nursing Council, which refused to recognize Amity degrees since it was not listed by the commission.
UGC is not the only body that has declined to recognize Amity. The government’s regulator, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has also advised students to avoid 168 “unapproved colleges” earlier this year. The list includes Amity.
Amity’s response to that has been to say that it is operating as a university, not a technical institute. “As per law, universities do not require approval of AICTE to start or conduct technical programmes,” states the website of Amity.
K. Narayana Rao, the member secretary of AICTE, declined to comment on the court’s decision saying UGC was “unrelated” to the council’s work.
But the court decision comes as a rapidly expanding private higher education sector in India faces greater government and public scrutiny.
Some private colleges have sought an independent regulator for higher education, as has been recommended by the National Knowledge Commission, an advisory body appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“This is proof that they can’t arbitrarily pick and choose who to include,” insisted Chauhan, referring to UGC.
Amity has maintained that it met the legal requirements to be a university recognized by the commission—and lists itself as such on its website—because the Noida-based university is recognized by Uttar Pradesh, says Chauhan, giving it the power to confer degrees.
PTI contributed to this story.
The Delhi High Court order reiterated the roles of the UGC and the state and central governments. It said that while state and central governments had the right to licence and recognize universities, UGC had no role in this. If UGC were to list universities on its website, it would have to list all. However, the court added that UGC did have the right to inspect universities.
The All India Council of Technical Education is not empowered to accredit or recognize universities, although it does have the right to accredit and recognize technical programmes being offered by universities.