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'Blacklisted' deemed varsities continue to attract students

By Kalpana Pathak & Archana M Prasanna
May 21, 2010 01:54 IST
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Uncertainty may shroud their deemed status with the apex court yet to deliver its final verdict. However, admissions to nearly 50 per cent of deemed universities — blacklisted by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) — are on in full swing.

The status of the remaining institutions remains uncertain since many of them could have closed down due to lack of funds, say industry observers.

The Supreme Court on May 6 had allowed 44 'blacklisted' deemed universities to continue admissions for this academic year. A few of these universities that Business Standard spoke to say the admission process at their institutes is running smoothly.

Bangalore-based Jain University claims the flow of student applications has not been hit. "We are seeing a similar kind of demand for applications as in the past. In fact, in some courses, we have seen an increase in the number of applications, like our life sciences and B.Com courses," said M S Santhosh, joint registrar of Jain University.

The university started issuing applications a few days after the court verdict. "Students and their parents did not approach us to voice any concerns. There was a sense of confidence that things are moving in the right direction," he added. The institution received its deemed university status in July 2009. It has 3,000 students across its five campuses in Bangalore.

For the Noida-based Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, the impact on admissions has been minimal. "We have received around 28,000 applications against 32,000 last year. That is a decline of 12.5 per cent. Our infrastructure and values are strong. The students have done their homework and that reflects in the applications received," said registrar Vijay Kumar. The institute says it has already submitted its case to the Supreme Court.

According to another registrar of one of the 44 deemed universities which are under the scanner, what boosted student confidence towards the universities is the assurance from Kapil Sibal, the union HRD minister, that no matter what the outcome, students and their careers will not be affected.

"This came as a huge relief to students and parents. They knew that whatever the judgment, it will be favourable for them. No government will jeopardize students' careers. Only the management could be affected," said the registrar.

"With this verdict, the judge has conveyed clearly that there cannot be an injunction on this issue since the authority of the review committee itself is being challenged," concurs a vice-chancellor of a university, requesting anonymity.

"However, any norm or regulation that is introduced for improvement of the deemed universities is welcome. Our only request is that we shouldn't be categorised as 'blacklisted' when the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) has given us high ratings just a year ago."

The MHRD, on the other hand, said it is concerned about the future of these students. "If more and more students are seeking admission to these universities, we will have to include them in the rehabilitation package that we have planned for around 2 lakh students already studying at these universities," says an MHRD official.

"There are universities which have some good fundamentals in place and also a reputation in the market. They have been blacklisted for non-compliance in certain matters. But many other universities which did not even have an infrastructure or were set up purely for profiteering, are facing a tough time," says Narayanan Ramaswamy, head education advisory services, KPMG.

The Centre, this January, had approached the Supreme Court to derecognise 44 "deemed universities", in which around two lakh students were enrolled. The Centre told the apex court that these were being run as family fiefdoms rather than on academic considerations.

For instance, many deemed universities in Chennai are owned by politicians. These include: the Bharath University founded by union minister of state for information S Jagathrakshakan; the St Peter's University founded by former Tamil Nadu education minister and AIADMK MP M Thambidurai, the Dr MGR University founded by A C Shanmugham, a former AIADMK MP and the Periyar Maniammai University administered by a trust managed by K Veeramani, leader of the Dravidar Kazhagam.

Around four of these deemed universities — PRIST in Thanjavur, Vinayaka Missions in Salem, St Peter's in Chennai, and Periyar Maniammai in Thanjavur — have thousands of students enrolled for several courses offered by these universities through the distance education mode and study centres spread all over the country.

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Kalpana Pathak & Archana M Prasanna
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