India’s Higher Education Landscape Transformed with New UGC Regulations for Deemed Universities

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New Delhi, 2nd June 2023: Union Minister of Education and Skill Development, Dharmendra Pradhan, officially unveiled the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2023, during a ceremony attended by Prof. Jagadesh Kumar, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), and Sanjay Murthy, Secretary (Higher Education) of the Ministry of Education.

Addressing the audience, Pradhan emphasized that the new UGC regulations will pave the way for the establishment of more deemed to be universities with a focus on quality and transparency. The simplified guidelines aim to encourage universities to prioritize excellence and research, with a long-term vision of transforming the higher education landscape. The Minister commended the UGC for introducing this timely reform in alignment with the National Education Policy 2020.

Under the UGC Act 1956, the Central Government has the authority to grant the status of an Institution Deemed to be University to any institution, essentially treating it as a university. The declaration process, including the criteria for eligibility, governance, and the establishment of off-campus centers, is regulated by the UGC. The first set of Regulations was introduced in 2010 and subsequently revised in 2016 and 2019.

In line with the National Education Policy 2020 and with the aim of simplifying the regulations, the UGC formed an expert committee to review and revise the existing guidelines. The draft regulations underwent a thorough process of refinement, incorporating guidance from the expert committee, public feedback, and suggestions from the Commission, before reaching the Ministry of Education for final approval.

Replacing the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations 2019, the new regulations are built upon the principle of a “light but tight” regulatory framework, as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020.

Key features of the regulations include:
Alignment with the National Education Policy 2020: The deemed to be universities’ objectives now include providing high-quality education, fostering excellence in various disciplines at the undergraduate, postgraduate, and research degree levels, and contributing to social transformation through socially responsive teaching, research, and fieldwork.
Eligibility Criteria: Institutions applying for deemed to be university status must have an NAAC ‘A’ grade with a minimum 3.01 CGPA for three consecutive cycles, or NBA accreditation for two-thirds of eligible programs for three consecutive cycles, or rank within the top 50 in any specific category of NIRF for the last three years continuously, or rank within the top 100 in the overall NIRF Ranking for the last three years continuously.

Cluster of Institutions: A group of institutions managed by more than one sponsoring body can also apply for deemed to be university status.

Online Application Process: Sponsoring bodies seeking deemed to be university status for their institutions can now apply online. The Expert Committee will assess the facilities, interact with stakeholders, and verify documents virtually.
Course Expansion: Institutions deemed to be universities can introduce new courses or programs in any field at their existing campus and approved off-campus centers with the prior approval of the Executive Council and, if applicable, the relevant statutory council.

Distinct Institution Category: Institutions focusing on unique disciplines, strategic national needs, Indian cultural heritage preservation, environmental preservation, skill development, sports, languages, or other disciplines determined by the Expert Committee of the Commission will be considered under the ‘Distinct Institution’ category and exempted from eligibility criteria.

Off-Campus Centers: Deemed to be universities graded ‘A’ and above or ranked within the top 100 in the “Universities” category of the NIRF rankings are eligible to establish off-campus centers.


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