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Regulator Becomes Dictator of Universities
Can UGC Dictate Terms to All Universities?

Regulator Becomes Dictator of Universities

January 17th, 2015, Updated: 11:16 am

Regulator Becomes Dictator of Universities. The Status of various type universities varies in India as Central, State, Deemed to be, and Private Universities. But the UGC website added yet another category ‘Fake Universities’. The allotments of grants and extending facilities for R&D/ Projects are carried out as per the degree of status in sequential order mentioned above. In short any Research grants or any other types grants for State Private Universities are nil or negligible. A University is supposed to be accredited by its outcome of Students and research out puts. Most of the Private Universities divert the funds for Infrastructure development and  less for Laboratories and nil for research.

Most of the States have done away with Private University Regulatory commissions, but MP has MPPURC to regulate 15 Private Universities and few in pipe line which survive on one percentage of the fees collected by the Universities. In addition to State Higher Education, Technical Education Departments play the role of super regulators. Governors of the States also play a big role being the Visitor of Private Universities and Chancellor of the State Universities. The big brothers at the Center like UGC, AICTE, NCTE, PCI, MCI, BCI etc require all type data on short notices to their benefits/ GER reflections. If one could understand the contributions of Private Universities of world repute like Harvard, Cambridge, Yale, Oxford, Princeton, MIT etc and its freedom of functioning reveals that the space for growth in the direction of its strength is essential. But presently, all private universities will come under the purview of the new body, which could be called the Higher Education and Research Commission.

The University should be an abounding, expanding, absorbing and yet static base both for the human mind and every activity. Every University should have another role to play, a spiritual part integrated into its existence, and that part is the Formless Divinity which in turn means and includes truth, compassion, righteousness and wisdom through value added education.

It is known that a flower has a form, but its fragrance is formless and reaches out to everyone without any discrimination. So is the manifestation of the authentic energy of Education inherent in the Supreme Energy. The academic and progressive journey undertaken with patience and perseverance for achieving that excellence of quality education, which will provide the needed strength and vision to the youth of India with a view to making them instrumental in making India a safe country with sound economy for achieving global peace and happiness.

Need for global knowledge collaborations

Knowledge collaboration is achieved though either showcasing the modern or innovative means, methods and outcome/product. It’s equally important to carry out promotional activities. Soft power is a good concept which is popularly understood as the ability to influence others and achieve national self-interest(s) through attraction and persuasion.

International higher education has been drawn to this new concept of soft power. A number of references to it can be witnessed in conferences, academic journals, blogs and media articles, etc. It has become a fundamental premise of today’s international education engagement. Some treat it like a modern branding campaign, using culture and media to win over foreign public – especially students.

Attraction and persuasion is the best way to build trust because trust can pay dividends in terms of economic and Geo-political benefits. In short, the role and use of soft power is interpreted in a myriad of ways. But a common motivation is to achieve self-interests, for educational promotions. After all, the basic notion of power is about gaining some kind of dominance, whether it be by soft, hard or smart means.

Self-interest or mutual interest

The most commonly referred to examples of soft power in higher education include the Fulbright Program, the British Council, the German Academic Exchange Service and Development Cooperation projects.

Clearly, these are respected and long-standing programs that have been well accepted and made enormous contributions. But why do we call them instruments of ‘soft power’ when at their heart they promote the exchange of students, faculty, culture, science, knowledge and expertise? Yes, there are self-interests at play, but a mutuality of interests and benefits is also involved.

There is no doubt that international higher education has changed dramatically in the last two decades. It is not just students and scholars who are moving across borders – so are programs, providers, projects and policies.

Spread and lay out

The spread and layout of higher education is characterized by international collaborative research projects, bi-national universities, multinational policy networks, global mobility programs, regional centers of excellence and international education hubs.

Importance and effects

The importance is that, in the highly interconnected and interdependent world in which we live, higher education is a channel for the cross-border flow and exchange of people, knowledge, expertise, values, innovation, economy, technology and culture. The world of international relations is complex and beset with histories, challenges and inequalities that it would be naive to ignore.

Mutual power

A challenge that the higher education face is whether it buy into the idea of soft power or introduce an alternative approach – the notion of ‘mutual power’. This concept recognizes that power need not be a zero-sum game. A ‘mutual power’ approach builds on the respective strengths of countries’ higher education and research institutions and yields solutions and benefits for all players. A key point is that the benefits will differ among the actors. This is based on the reality and ‘new normal’ that finding solutions to worldwide challenges cannot be achieved by one country alone. An alternative to the power paradigm, whether it be soft or mutual power, is the concept of diplomacy which regards negotiation as one of its core pillars. Diplomacy has undergone a dramatic transformation in the last two decades. Contemporary diplomacy recognizes that a state-centric process which focuses primarily on ministries of foreign affairs and professional diplomats is no longer adequate.

A multitude of new actors are involved, including non-governmental organisations, transnational corporations, professional associations and Track II diplomacy experts. Higher education is one of these key actors and instruments of contemporary diplomacy. Public and cultural diplomacy includes social media, modern and traditional art forms, architecture, language and intercultural training, academic exchange, sport, internet etc. as important means to interact with foreign public, not just the government.

There is little doubt that international relations are becoming more layered, introducing new actors and new issues such as health, climate, environment, technology, in addition to security and peace. Policy networks, public fora, non-governmental gatherings, media and Track II meetings are diplomatic forms of interaction in addition to governmental summits and treaties. In this changing world of contemporary diplomacy, higher education has a significant role and contribution to make.

Higher education’s long tradition of scholarly collaboration and academic mobility complemented by today’s innovations of research and policy networks, international education hubs, joint programs/institutions, global and bi-national universities, have a lot to contribute to building and strengthening international relations among countries and regions.

Does it make more sense to situate higher education as a means for international engagement within the notion and process of an expanded concept of diplomacy, such as knowledge diplomacy, rather than in the soft power paradigm?

It can be argued that these are not mutually exclusive, but, given the difference in fundamental values shaping these processes, which one is most effective and appropriate for the more mutually dependent world in which we live today? Are the notions of ‘mutual power’ or ‘knowledge diplomacy’ worthy of further exploration and debate?

Admission problems

The admission in various courses for current session has touched only 10% of the effort planned. In the matter of analyzed in the light of activities carried out/delayed/ not done. Admissions to any Institutes depend on GER and USP. GER was very low vis-a-vis the vacancies. So the success depends on the USP of the Institute/College/University played a vital role. The record of admission for the current year has revealed that the good reputation of the Foundation/Society which manages the institution has not yielded much to improve the USP of the Institution.

Attendance problems

Another problem is that Students are not interested in attending classes’ regularly, could be their interest in multifarious activities, lack of direction, lack of interest, e-learning facilities and many causes which require detailed research to find a solution.

Probable Solution

At this juncture the Regulatory bodies should try out more freedom of operation rather than enforcing more control. Indian Higher education system should follow the universities across the world uphold complete autonomy on all academic and administrative matters with least regulations and control. But regulation should be strict to restrict exploitation brain draining, economy and resources.

Brig. Dr. VD Abraham


The author is former Vice Chancellor of Oriental University, Indore, a retired Brigadier of the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers of India Army. He had done his doctorate in ECE from JNTU Hyderabad, India, and presently functioning as Adviser to many educational Institutions.

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