UGC Guidelines – New Regulations for Deemed University Status

Current Affairs, Polity & Governance

Why in News:

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced the release of new University Grants Commission (UGC) guidelines for granting deemed university status.

Important Points:

  • According to the revised UGC guidelines, higher education institutions that are less than 20 years old will now be eligible to apply for deemed university status. Additionally, private universities will need to establish executive councils similar to central universities.
  • These revised guidelines have been introduced to simplify the eligibility criteria for existing higher education institutions seeking deemed university status, with the aim of promoting the establishment of quality-focused deemed universities.
  • The Union Education Ministry has released the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2023, which will replace the 2019 guidelines.
  • The new regulations are founded on the principle of a “light but tight” regulatory framework, as envisioned in the National Education Policy 2020, and will encourage universities to prioritize quality and excellence, foster a robust research ecosystem, and lead to transformative changes in the higher education landscape.
  • These norms have been designed to facilitate the creation of more quality-focused deemed universities in an objective and transparent manner.
  • The UGC Act empowers the central government to grant deemed university status to any institution other than a university.
  • The first set of regulations pertaining to this was notified in 2010 and was subsequently revised in 2016 and 2019.

2019 Guidelines and New Regulations:

  • Under the 2019 guidelines, higher education institutions were eligible to apply for deemed university status only if they had been in existence for at least 20 years.
  • However, the new regulations replace this criterion with specific requirements, including multi-disciplinarity, NAAC grading, NIRF ranking, and NBA grading.
  • As per the guidelines, any multi-disciplinary institution with a valid NAAC accreditation of at least 3.01 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) for three consecutive cycles, NBA accreditation for two-thirds of eligible programs for three consecutive cycles, or being in the top 50 of any specific category in the NIRF for the last three years continuously, will be eligible to apply for deemed status.
  • Additionally, a cluster of institutions managed by multiple sponsoring bodies or a society can also apply for deemed university status.
  • The new regulations introduce the “Distinct Institution” category, which exempts certain institutions that focus on teaching and research in unique disciplines, address strategic needs of the country, engage in the preservation of Indian cultural heritage or the environment, dedicate themselves to skill development, sports, languages, or any other discipline determined by the Expert Committee of the Commission, from the regular eligibility criteria.
  • Currently, there are around 170 deemed institutions in the country.
  • The revised guidelines also introduce several other changes, including increasing faculty strength from 100 to 150, raising the corpus fund for private institutions from Rs 10 crore to Rs 25 crore, and mandating the creation of executive councils in these universities, similar to central universities.
  • Furthermore, deemed universities are now required to register on the Academic Bank of Credits (ABC).
  • Deemed universities with a minimum ‘A’ grade or higher, or ranked from 1 to 100 in the “universities” category of NIRF rankings of the relevant year, are eligible to set up off-campus centers.
  • Institutions declared as deemed to be university under the ‘distinct category’ can apply for off-campus centers after five years of their declaration if they are accredited with an A grade or ranked in the top 100 in the ‘universities’ category of NIRF.

In short:

The regulations are in alignment with the National Education Policy 2020. The eligibility criteria for applying for deemed-to-be university status are:

  • NAAC ‘A’ grade with at least a 3.01 CGPA for three consecutive cycles.
  • NBA accreditation for two-thirds of eligible programs for three consecutive cycles.
  • In the top 50 of any specific category of NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework) for the last three years continuously.
  • In the top 100 of overall NIRF Ranking for the last three years continuously.

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