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  • Writer's pictureAchin Jain

Establishing Deemed-to-be University: A Step-by-step Guide to Navigating the UGC Regulations

Updated: 3 days ago

A jouney from High rankings to be Deemed to be University

Background


In June 2023, UGC notified new regulations titled “University Grants Commission (Institutions Deemed-to-be Universities) Regulations, 2023.” These regulations lay down the requirements and process for HEIs to be declared as “Deemed-to-be University.” Since the notification, we have seen multiple existing institutions being declared as “Deemed-to-be University” albeit most of these were central government institutions such as NITTTR Chandigarh, NCERT, IIMC, Madhav Institute of Science and Technology, etc.


More recently, two private institutions – St. Aloysius College in Mangalore and V.R. Siddhartha College of Engineering in Vijayawada – were given the Deemed-to-be University status. Both institutes were highly regarded in their fields, and, we believe, made the right choice by applying for the DTBU status.


Since Paradigm is a major player in greenfield and brownfield university establishment, we wanted to write this article to answer some burning questions:


  1. What is a Deemed-to-be University?

  2. Why Deemed-to-be University is a coveted status for higher education institutions?

  3. What other options are there for HEIs to upgrade besides Deemed-to-be University?

  4. What do the UGC guidelines require about applying for Deemed-to-be University status?

  5. Why/how should HEIs apply for Deemed-to-be University status?

  6. Finally, what work Paradigm does do in establishing greenfield and brownfield universities, and how we can partner with growth-oriented HEIs?


What is a Deemed-to-be University?


What is Deemed to be University

Perhaps India is the only country to use the moniker “Deemed-to-be University” for higher education institutions. Regardless of the “Deemed-to-be” status, Deemed-to-be Universities are full-fledged universities with complete autonomy and flexibility. For all practical purposes, one can ignore the words “Deemed-to-be” while considering Deemed-to-be Universities, except while referring to them, the words “Deemed-to-be” must be used.


A Deemed-to-be University in India refers to an educational institution that has been officially recognised as a university by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India. This recognition is usually awarded to institutions that exhibit outstanding academic standards and fulfill specific criteria outlined by the University Grants Commission (UGC).


All universities in India come into existence through an Act either in the Parliament ( for Central Universities) or through an Act in the State Legislature (for State Universities). Deemed-to-be Universities come into existence through a gazette notification by the Union Ministry of Education under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act. As mentioned above, besides the moniker, “Deemed-to-be Universities” are “Universities” with a high degree of autonomy and flexibility.


We mentioned at the start of this article that, between Jun 2023 and Mar 2024, many institutions have been declared as Deemed-to-be Universities. The last two decades have seen the establishment of numerous private universities. Traditionally, the higher education space was rather closed. Parties interested in establishing higher education institutions did not have many options but to set up a college that would be affiliated with central or state universities to offer degrees. Many of these colleges have grown into large institutions with good reputations and rankings, but have received limited autonomy. With experience and capability earned over decades, such institutions are prime candidates to become universities and offer their own degrees. Before the 2023 notification, many such institutions applied for State Private University status. Now, the institutions have an option to apply for Deemed-to-be University status, which in our opinion provides more autonomy and flexibility than a State Private University.


How a Deemed-to-be University is different from a State Private University (SPU)?


As discussed above, a State Private University comes into existence through an Act in the State Legislature whereas a Deemed to be Universities comes into existence through a gazette notification by the Union Ministry of Education under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act. Given that both institutions are created by different legislations, there are differences in their governance and operations, as summarised in the table below:


Deemed to be University v/s State Private University


Eligibility Criteria for an Institution to be declared as "Deemed-to-be-University"


In the Jun 2023 guidelines, an institution can apply for “Deemed to be University” status under two categories: General or Distinct.


Under the “General category,” only an existing institution can apply to be declared as Deemed-to-be University. While, under the “Distinct category,” either an existing institution or a greenfield institution can apply for the Deemed-to-be University status. Both categories come with certain criteria that the institution must meet to be eligible for the Deemed-to-be University status. We shall discuss both below.



General Category


The eligibility criteria to be declared as a Deemed-to-be University under the General category has been specified in clause 4 of the UGC regulations. Broadly there are 4 conditions that an institution must meet to be eligible for applying for the Deemed-to-be University status, as summarised below:


1. Multi-disciplinary Institution or Cluster of Institutions

One of the fundamental eligibility criteria for institutions seeking Deemed-to-be University status is to be a multi-disciplinary institution or a cluster of institutions offering a minimum of five programs. These programs could be in the undergraduate, post-graduate, integrated, or research domain, or a combination of these.


In the case of a cluster of institutions belonging to different sponsoring bodies intending to acquire deemed-to-be university status, an exclusive sponsoring body in the name of the proposed deemed-to-be university must be formed. The application is submitted under this exclusive sponsoring body, and all moveable and immovable assets are transferred to this entity.


2. Demonstrated Quality through attaining specified Rankings or Accreditations

Institutions applying for the DTBU status must have demonstrated attainment of high quality through one of the following:


  1. By acquiring NAAC A grade or above for three consecutive cycles,

  2. By acquiring NBA accreditation for at least two-thirds of eligible technical programs for three consecutive cycles, or

  3. By figuring among the top fifty rankings of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) in any specific category for three consecutive years or among the top hundred rankings in the overall NIRF ranking for three consecutive years.


Additionally, the institution should have obtained the approval of the relevant statutory body for all professional courses on offer, such as the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Bar Council of India (BCI), Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), Council of Architecture (COA), etc.


3. Attained specified minimum strength of students and faculty

The institutions should have achieved a teacher-student ratio of 1:20 with a minimum combined 150 faculty and 3,000 students strength, with at least one-fifth being post-graduate or research students.


4. Have specified academic and physical infrastructure

The institution should have academic and physical infrastructure as may be specified by the relevant statutory body, with at least the following: an administrative area, library, lecture halls, labs, hostels, health care, common facilities, and recreational facilities.


Distinct Category


UGC guidelines contain the following definition of “distinct category”:


“Distinct category” means an existing institution or an institution starting from the beginning with the focus on teaching or research in the unique disciplines or addressing the strategic needs of the country or engaged in the preservation of Indian cultural heritage or preservation of the environment or dedicated to skill development or dedicated to sports or languages or any other discipline, as so determined by the Expert Committee approved by the Chairman of the Commission.”

In simple terms, the "Distinct Category" in the UGC regulations essentially designates a unique classification for educational institutions aspiring to attain Deemed-to-be University status. Think of it as an exclusive club for schools and colleges that excel in specific areas like teaching distinct subjects, contributing to cultural preservation, environmental conservation, skill development, or sports. To join this elite group, institutions must convincingly demonstrate their commitment to these specialised objectives, assessed by an expert committee. Upon approval, the government grants them deemed-to-be university status under this distinguished "Distinct Category," acknowledging their exceptional contributions to education and societal needs beyond the conventional academic spectrum. It's akin to earning special recognition for their outstanding and impactful pursuits.


In this category, the eligibility criteria of any ranking and accreditation will not be necessary. New or existing institutions (including clusters of institutions) can apply under this category. In the case of a cluster of institutions, the condition to form an exclusive sponsoring body and transfer the assets to the exclusive sponsoring body, as mentioned in the general category, shall apply.


Why should an Autonomous College/HEI apply for Deemed-to-be University status?



As mentioned above, the option to apply for Deemed-to-be University status is available to both greenfield and brownfield institutions. While the process of application for both may differ as per the selected category, the ultimate objectives of both would be the same – to achieve greater autonomy and flexibility. Below are the important considerations for an HEI to ascertain whether to apply for the Deemed-to-be University status. The considerations below are in comparison with State Private Universities.



1. Greater Autonomy

Deemed-to-be Universities caries greater autonomy to have more control over their academic and administrative decisions, fostering a conducive environment for innovation and growth.


2. Recognition under the Central Government

Attaining Deemed-to-be University status brings recognition and validation from the central government, enhancing the institution's standing and credibility on a national level.


3. Flexible and Innovative Curriculum

Deemed-to-be University adopts a dynamic approach to education with credit-based courses, projects, and a curriculum that allows for flexibility. Emphasizing areas like community engagement, environmental education, and value-based education.


4. Inter-disciplinary Approach

Deemed-to-be University emphasizes a departure from traditional approaches, encouraging institutions to engage in inter-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary, or trans-disciplinary teaching and research, fostering a broader educational framework.



5. Growth without State Barriers

Deemed-to-be University offers the opportunity for growth without being constrained by state borders, allowing Deemed-to-be Universities to expand their influence and impact across regions without bureaucratic hindrances.


6. Excellence in Higher Education

Attaining the status of a Deemed-to-be University reflects a commitment to providing higher education characterised by excellence and innovation across undergraduate, post-graduate, and research degree levels. E.g., the eligibility criteria under the general category require an existing to have at least NAAC A accreditation, NBA accreditation for two-third programs, or NIRF top 50/100 ranking.


7. Transformation into a Research and Teaching Intensive University

Existing institutions can envision evolving into research and teaching-intensive universities, actively contributing to the expansion of academic and research frontiers.


8. Focus on Research and Innovation

Deemed-to-be University encourages the establishment of start-up incubation centres, technology development centres, and research facilities to foster a culture of research and innovation, promoting industry-academic linkages and interdisciplinary research.


9. Alignment with NEP 2020

The UGC regulations require institutions to align with the provisions of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, ensuring they contribute to the broader national vision for education and skill development.


How can Paradigm support the establishment of DTBU?


Becoming a deemed university involves a formal process and meeting specific criteria set in the UGC guidelines, that can be downloaded from this link. Paradigm is a major player in establishing new universities. Over the years, Paradigm has supported its clients to prepare greenfield and brownfield universities application and receive Letter of Intent from the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Goa. With the new guidelines on Deemed-to-be University, Paradigm is currently working on multiple brownfield Deemed-to-be University projects for its clients in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka.


Paradigm specialises in simplifying the intricate process of an HEI transitioning into Deemed-to-be University status. Our focus is on ensuring a well-thought-out and smooth transition for educational institutions, offering valuable support as they navigate this complex landscape to enhance their standing within higher education. Here's a breakdown of the services we offer:


Pre-Qualifier/Eligibility Test:

This service involves assessing the institution’s current status and eligibility for seeking Deemed-to-be University status. It includes evaluating factors such as infrastructure, faculty qualifications, and academic performance; and preparing the readiness report with a roadmap to apply for the Deemed-to-be University status.


In-Depth Review of Institution:

Paradigm can perform a comprehensive review of the institution to determine whether transitioning to a Deemed-to-be University is the right strategic move. This could involve analysing the brand perception of the institution, gathering competitive insights, and forecasting growth potential for the institution.


Preparation of DPR (Detailed Project Report):

Developing a Detailed Project Report is a crucial step in the process of DTBU application. This report will outline the specific plans, resources, and strategies for the college to successfully transition into a Deemed-to-be University. It would include details on academic programs, faculty development, infrastructure upgrades, and financial projections. Our analysts and content writers work closely with the institution’s senior management to recreate their vision into a DPR for the Deemed-to-be University.


Support Services During Due Diligence Process:

The due diligence process is a critical phase after the Deemed-to-be University application is submitted on the UGC portal. Paradigm Consultants would provide support services during this phase, assisting the institution in making the presentation with the project evaluation committee and addressing any issues or concerns that may arise. This could involve legal, financial, and operational aspects of the due diligence process.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the path to Deemed-to-be University status is a meticulous journey guided by principles of excellence, innovation, and societal relevance. As institutions embark on this transformative endeavor, Paradigm is a natural partner for HEIs as they contribute to the advancement of higher education, research, and holistic student development in alignment with the evolving needs of the nation.


Connect with us

Whether you are an HEI looking to apply for State Private University or Deemed-to-be University status or a higher education professional interested in further discussing the topic, we would love to hear from you. Find all our contact details below:


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