The University Grants Commission (UGC) is all set to review the Establishment of and Maintenance of Standards in Private Universities Regulations, 2003, to make rules governing private universities more stringent.

The regulations on deemed universities were made more stringent on quality by the UGC from the earlier guidelines in 2010 but a similar exercise was not undertaken for private universities. Taking advantage of the lacunae, in some States private deemed universities started converting into private State universities in order to escape the robust deemed universities regulations.

The UGC has set up an expert committee to review the existing Regulations under Prof. P. N. Tandon and co-chair M. Anandakrishnan, both of whom were associated with the drafting of the UGC (Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010. However, private universities had been left out of the purview then.

The expert committee has been asked to keep in mind the suggestions received from States and stakeholders by the earlier committee that also reviewed the 2003 Regulations. The Human Resource Development was, however, not too satisfied with the draft regulations that, in addition to bringing universities set up under State legislatures under the purview of the UGC Regulations, had also said that reservation policy would be applicable to them also. The private universities would have to be not-for-profit organisations and shall not be engaged in commercialisation of education, it said.

The draft Regulations of 2010, prepared by a Ministry-appointed committee, had also said that a higher education institution could be approved as a university only if it had been in existence for 15 years and fulfilled the laid down criteria of land, faculty and other infrastructure and had generated IP Rights and produced enough quality research. Violation of any of the provisions would attract heavy penalty, the draft Regulations said.

Private universities were brought in for the first time through the 2003 Regulations under UGC’s quality control.

In fact, in the Prof. Yashpal versus Chhattisgarh State case, the private universities set up under the then Chhattisgarh Private Universities Act had challenged that UGC had no control over private universities as they were established under State Acts. The Supreme Court had upheld UGC’s competence to regulate private State universities, saying that entry 66 of the Union List in 7th Schedule of the Constitution permitted the Centre to legislate on standards of higher education even if State legislatures had jurisdiction under entry 32 of the State List to establish universities.