India Government to divest 44 universities of deemed status

The central government Monday told the Supreme Court that it was all set to divest 44 universities of their special “deemed university” status as they were being run as “family fiefdoms” rather than institutions of academic excellence.

Appearing for the central government, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium made this submission to a bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Mukundkam Sharma, during the hearing of a 2006 lawsuit, questioning the misuse of the deemed university status by glut of educational shops.

Subramanium also told the bench that the government, however, has decided to let these universities revert back to become affiliated colleges of their original universities.

This is to avoid jeopardising the career of nearly 200,000 students studying in these institutions across 13 states, he told the court.

In an affidavit filed in the court, the union human resource development ministry said that the government has also accepted the recommendations made by high-powered P.N. Tandon committee, formed to probe the conditions of the deemed universities across the country.

“The Review Committee came across several aberrations in the functioning of some of the institutions deemed to be universities. It found undesirable management architecture where families rather than professional academics controlled the functioning of institutions,” the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, most of the 44 deemed universities, failing to maintain their high standard of academic excellence, were offering post-graduate and undergraduate courses that are “fragmented with concocted nomenclatures” and seats “disproportionately” increased beyond the actual intake capacity.

The bench, during an earlier hearing in July last year had questioned the need for having deemed universities in the country in wake of their mushrooming growth amid complaints that instead of imparting quality education, they have been fleecing students by commercialising it.

“Why deemed university at all? Don’t you think the status of deemed university should be abolished in all the states?” the bench had asked, while directing the centre to file a detailed affidavit on the deemed universities and their conditions in the country.

The bench adjourned the matter after a brief perusal of the affidavit.

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