Saturday, May 03, 2014

UGC plans cluster colleges as option to deemed university

No new deemed university has come up in the country in the last seven years, primarily because of the court case challenging the 2010 University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations. With the issue still in court, the UGC now plans to introduce the idea of cluster colleges as an alternative to deemed universities.

"We want to get some big universities to disaffiliate some institutions. They can't become deemed universities at the moment till the Tandon Committee report issue is resolved, but can be considered an alternative," said UGC Vice-Chairman H Devaraj.

Some, like Osmania University with 900 affiliated colleges, Pune University with 811 and Tamil Nadu Teachers' Education University with 661 colleges, were too big and the UGC was open to helping groups of colleges under possibly the same management to disaffiliate from the university and be grouped together. They may be made into degree awarding institutions, provided they meet requirements. Instead of the management having to make extraordinary efforts to ensure that one college meets university criteria, it would be easier to club all colleges under the same management to bring it to university standards, Devaraj said.

Academics said this may not be possible unless the UGC Act was amended. Sastra University Dean (Planning and Development) S Vaidhyasubramaniam said, "The character of a university is its comprehensiveness. Besides grouping and awarding university status, the UGC could award university status and encourage multi-disciplinarity."

The UGC on Friday approved a three-year Bachelor of Vocation (BVoc) course, going beyond the conventional arts, commerce and science streams. Of 338 applications from educational institutions across the country, the UGC approved 92. "A majority of the colleges offering the course are in Maharashtra (around 30) because the state has an industrial culture," said Prof Devaraj. In Tamil Nadu, it will be offered at Avinashilingam College and PSGR Krishnammal College for Women in Coimbatore and St Joseph's College in Trichy.

The course will provide skill and specialization in different vocations, including retail marketing, hospitality management and carpentry. It will have a multiple-exit provision - a certificate at the end of the first year, a diploma after two years and a degree after three years. The UGC has made provisions for financial assistance up to Rs 18.5 million for the colleges selected for BVoc programme under the National Skill Qualification Framework.


Source: The Times of India, May 3, 2014
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