Higher Education

Higher Education

SC curbs on `university' tag worries deemed varsities

PUBLISH DATE 7th November 2017

Fear Impact On Brand Perception

Institutions of higher learning, which have been granted `deemed to be university' status by the University Grants Commission (UGC), are finding themselves in a fix over the Supreme Court's latest directive restraining them from associating the word “university“ with their names.

Representatives of these institutions felt the order will affect their brand perception and lead to confusion among studentsguardians regarding their status as to whether they are autonomousaffiliated institutions or degree-awarding institutions.

The issue stems from one of the directives in the SC's ruling on November 3 that cancelled engineering degrees given by deemed universities through correspondence course. It reads, “The UGC is further directed to take appropriate steps and implement Section 23 of the UGC Act and restrain deemed-to-be-universities from using the word `university“ within one month from today.“

“We are surprised by this judgement. Actually , the ca se was about distance education courses run by some of the deemed universities,“ said Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis Society. “When private universities established under the State Act can associate the word `university' with their names why deemed universities, established under Section 3 of the UGC Act, can't.Not using the word `university' will affect admissions of foreign students,“ she said.

Bharati Vidyapeeth vicechancellor Shivajirao Kadam, said, “It will be difficult for any institution of higher learning with a deemed university status, to carrying on without the word university to its name. We cannot use the word `institution' as there are thousands in the country and there will be no distinction between a university and an institute. Also, the name has been registered as per the UGC Act and it will be difficult to rename it all over again.“

Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth vice-chancellor Deepak Tilak said, “Our name was registered long ago. We have not used the word `university'. Ours is called `vidyapeeth' and will not be affected even if the word's English translation means the same.“

Education and legal consultant Ravi Bhardwaj said, “The SC ought to have held a wider deliberation on this issue in the wake of judgments by various high courts in the past allowing deemed universities to associate the word university with their names.“

Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, appearing for the UGC, had submitted that inclusive definition of `university' in the UGC Act was in a completely different and limited context and the idea was to recognise deemed to be university for the purposes of funding. He cited Section 23 of the Act to submit, “A university established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act alone is entitled to have the word `university' associated with its name.“

The SC observed in this context, “All that the UGC Act does is to confer deemed to be university status on an institution which has achieved excellence in its chosen field so that its development in the concerned field and its attempts to attain excellence and conduct research are not hampered on any count and at the same time it could be extended the facilities of Aid.It is precisely for this that the distinction between a regular university established under a Central, Provincial or State Act and an Institution Deemed to be University is maintained in the UGC Act. A deemed to be university can certainly award degrees but, cannot use the word `university' by virtue of Section 23 of the UGC Act.“

“Even after conferral of such status, it still continues to be `an Institution Deemed to be University' and if it is equated with a university in every sense of the term it would lead to incoherent and incongruous results, in that its area of operation or the field of its activity would be completely unlimited and unregulated. In our view that is certainly not the intent of the UGC Act,“ the SC observed.