KSHEC asked to prepare report for formulating policy and legislation

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government is mulling over the various possibilities of permitting deemed universities in the State. The Kerala State Higher Education Council (KSHEC) has been asked to prepare a report for formulating a policy and legislation.

The move has raised eyebrows as it is a deviation from the avowed policy of the Left that discourages privatisation in the education sector. The establishment of deemed universities will also weaken the relevance of State-funded universities.

The development comes against the backdrop of an application submitted by the Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, Kochi, an autonomous college, which has sought approval for ‘deemed-to-be’ university status. Following a “detailed consideration” of the request, the Higher Education department has issued an order that states the possibility of more autonomous colleges following suit in future.

Sources say the government appears to have undertaken preliminary discussions in the matter. While such proposals are generally forwarded with an accompanying note for feasibility studies, the move to issue a government order with copies sent to the Registrars of all universities has aroused curiosity.

UDF govt. move

The United Democratic Front government of 2011-16 had seriously pursued the idea of setting up private universities in the State. A KSHEC committee headed by former Mahatma Gandhi University Vice Chancellor Cyriac Thomas had also submitted a feasibility report.

Among the various recommendations, the panel had insisted that only educational agencies with at least 10 years of experience in running a private university be considered for the status. While the proposal had then been staunchly opposed by the LDF, the present KSHEC, appointed by the previous LDF government (2016-21), had scrapped the recommendations since it was felt the move will undermine the quality of higher education.

According to KSHEC member secretary Rajan Varughese, an expert committee will be constituted to deliberate on the issue. The provisions of the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2019 and the social realities of the State will be factored in the study.

The regulations mandate at least 20 years of existence, a minimum NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council)accreditation of 3.26 CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) for three consecutive cycles, and a top-100 National Institute Ranking Framework ranking among the criteria. Those fulfilling the eligibility criteria can submit applications to the University Grants Commission after ‘intimating’ the government.

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