The Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has asked the University Grants Commission (UGC) to decide the fee structure and admission policies in deemed universities. Now, UGC is all set to enforce probably the first of its kind regulations on tuition fees and admission process at deemed universities.
According to new laws, a government panel will be set up to decide the fee structure and new admissions will be possible only through an entrance test. Every institution will have to conduct its own entrance test or a consortium of deemed universities can hold a national-level entrance exam.
These new regulations are likely to affect mainly the 90 private institutions among the country’s 130 deemed universities as the institutions run by the government follow a tradition of entrance test and charge low fees.
In September 2009, the UGC had passed two regulations related to admissions at deemed universities and their fees which were later sent to MHRD for approval. The MHRD then consulted the law ministry for their opinion in the wake of past Supreme Court judgments on private institutions’ rights.
After receiving nod from the the law ministry, the UGC has decided to proceed under Section 12A(2)(d) of the UGC Act which allows the commission to specify through a regulation how much tuition fee any educational institution can charge for any study course.
The new set of regulations empowers the union government to establish a national fee fixation committee for deemed universities. The state governments can also set up such committees. It also says that the fee structure may vary from one deemed university to another according to existing infrastructural values.
This will be a delicate situation for many promising private institutions, which will find it very complicated to generate revenue for further facilities as they will not be allowed to charge extra fees for future developments. Their fee structure will be determined according to present facilities not according to the future plans. However, a large chunk of the private deemed universities have a tainted past due to their sheer profit making attitude and thus it seems that these regulations were necessary.
Prof. K.S. Dasgupta, Director, Indian Institute of Space, Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, says in this context, “Any private institute or for that matter any institute has to maintain quality and they need money for this purpose. So, there should be a mutually accepted solution by both the UGC and the private institutes.”
Dr. Rajendra Khimani, Registrar, Gujarat Vidyapith, also opines, “Deemed university status means a certain kind of purpose attached to the university. That special purpose should be fulfilled. As far as problems due to these regulations are concerned, I don’t think anybody will have any problem if these regulations are implemented with everyone’s consent.”
So, will it not be tough to reach to a common solution?
Dr Khimani says, “Some states have a regular system or a central committee, which takes care of such issues. They can be helpful in reaching to a decision.”
Prof. Dasgupta also supports the idea of having a common dialogue platform, “Concerned parties should look for a middle path. The UGC and deemed universities should be in touch to reach a mutually agreed upon decision. It may not be a total solution in absence of communication. Some private deemed universities are doing well and ultimately the universities and the nation should flourish.”
Prof B.B. Pant of Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, feels the need of proper regulations to curb the errant universities. He expresses his idea about the fee regulation, “It will be premature to form an opinion about new regulations so early, but a proper guideline is very necessary to put a check on misbehaving institutions. And, coordinating the fee structure is not controlling the fee structure. Fulfillment of purpose is necessary. Regulations are the extension of guidelines only and thus they need to be seen with care.”
Now, when all the deemed universities will have to take students via an entrance test then what will happen to resourceful and management quota seat aspirant students. Will they prefer going abroad for higher studies causing a transfer of money?
Prof. Dasgupta says, “It’s too early to say anything but students should not be taxed at any cost and students will go where the infrastructure is. They can be stopped by creating a good environment here.”
So, is common entrance test for private deemed universities a solution?
Prof. Dasgupta adds, “This will be the best decision but it will be hard to implement due to logistics and administration related issues.”
Of course, difficulties are involved in the implementation of these regulations but the need is there and thus the academic world needs to meet them with a balanced approach. Ultimately, the higher education sector should grow and the academic environment should not suffer.