NCERT approaches UGC for ‘deemed university’ status

NCERT approaches UGC for ‘deemed university’ status

With the government’s proposal of making the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) an “institute of national importance” on the back burner, the NCERT is now vying for another tag — deemed to be university.

NCERT, an autonomous academic body advising the Centre on matters of school education, is learned to have applied to the University Grants Commission (UGC) for the “deemed university” status under the de novo category. The matter is listed for discussion at a meeting of the Executive Committee (EC) on Monday.

The EC is the highest decision-making body of NCERT and is chaired by the Education Minister. The proposal, however, has elicited opposition from within the NCERT with a faculty member writing to the director against it. Assistant Professor Abhay Kumar, who is also an elected member of NCERT’s establishment committee, has opposed the idea on the ground that the “deemed university” status will erode NCERT’s autonomy.

“By deciding to grant ‘Deemed to be University’ status to NCERT, all we are trying to do is surrender our academic autonomy to the UGC,” he wrote in his letter to the director. “Just as the UGC is the academic authority for higher education, NCERT is the academic authority for school education. Deemed to be University status will severely erode this authority,” he said.

According to the proposal on the agenda of the EC meeting on Monday the ‘Deemed to be University’ status would allow NCERT to offer its own graduate, post-graduate and doctoral degrees and have autonomy in terms of introduction of programmes, course structure, conducting examinations and management, among others.

Currently, the graduate and post-graduate programmes offered by NCERT’s Regional Institute of Education (REI) are affiliated with local universities like Barkatullah University, Bhopal, M D S University, Ajmer, University of Mysuru, Utkal University, Bhubaneshwar and North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong.

The proposal emphasises the need for autonomy, stating that despite offering innovative teacher education courses through REIs for decades, the NCERT is still dependent on the approval of local universities to introduce programmes.