Despite instructions by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC), most private universities in the State have no or incomplete details about their procedures and functioning on their websites. This, say experts, amounts to a violation of the norms of disclosure of information in public interest
As per MHRD and UGC requirements, deemed universities are to make public vital details like funding pattern, resources, courses, faculty details, intake and admission policy, fee structure, people in the management, annual expenditure, budgets, grievance and complaints among others. However, the websites of most universities are in a sorry state with many of the pages ‘under construction.’ Of the 29 deemed universities, only six have dedicated pages for disclosure of details. Many others provide either no information or very sketchy details which are not of much use to parents.
The State has the highest number of private universities in the country and with more than 70 per cent of the applicants hailing from other States, parents point out that comprehensive information on websites will be of great help during admissions.
“Even if details about admission are provided, key information such as the number of seats will not be online. Most fee details are outdated too,” said R. Ashwin Kumar, a parent. “Most of them shy away from transparency,” he added.
Parents say that the websites also contain no details about classrooms, lab facilities and other resources. “There is hardly any information about the management too. The messages and speeches of Vice-Chancellors are highlighted but it is impossible to find out about the board of trustees,” said R. Jayashankar, another parent.
An official of Bharath University said that they provided contact details and helplines on their websites. “We get many calls every day from parents,” he said.
Experts said that universities shy away from disclosing details about their faculty members for fear of their being poached. “There is a huge shortage of faculty members. Showcasing such data or that of facilities only attracts unnecessary attention,” said a professor.
However, others disagree. “Information is key to decision-making and the university is at a disadvantage if it decides not to keep its website updated,” said S. Vaidhya Subramanian, dean, SASTRA University. An official of VELS University said they focussed on recent events and placements while updating their websites. “Parents are most concerned about placement opportunities and we provide adequate information about that. Other information such as faculty details and infrastructure keep changing and it is difficult to upload them every now and then.”
A senior professor of a deemed university said that it was unfair to ask private universities to maintain websites containing all the relevant information when government institutes’ websites do not do so. “It is also seen as a cosmetic requirement because there are no penalties on erring institutes,” he added.