Surprisingly, the answer seems to be a bit vague.
According to Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956
Application of Act to institutions for higher studies other than Universities. The Central Government may, on the advice of the Commission, declare, by notification in the Official Gazette, that any institution for higher education, other than a University, shall be deemed to be a University for the purposes of this Act, and on such a declaration being made, all the provisions of this Act shall apply to such institution as if it were a University within the meaning of clause (f) of section 2.
and Section 2 clause (f) states
"University" means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognized by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this Act.
The UGC Act doesn't seem to provide any clear definition of a deemed university.
My own understanding of a deemed university is as follows.
- It is autonomous in the sense of setting its own educational agenda (courses, syllabus, teaching methodologies etc.)
- It is administratively autonomous in the sense that it does not need to abide by the rules and regulations of any other university on adminstrative matters.
- It can award degrees under its own name, instead of that of an university to which it is affiliated.
- It cannot be an affiliating university in the sense of allowing other institutions to affiliate themselves to it.
- It cannot be a purely teaching institution. Research has to be an integral part of its activities.
But I'm not sure if my understanding is correct. If anyone knows if the above is right or not, please let me know.
An article in the The Hindu (March 03, 2005) provides some background on deemed universities and how they have mushroomed in recent years.
The Radhakrishnan Commission [on university education] in its report [in 1948] devoted a chapter on deemed universities. It says "During the earlier years of the nationalist movement a number of institutions of higher education were established independent of the government and its support, determined to work out their own destinies in the spirit of free India. Though their difficulties and discouragement were great, and the mortality among them high, a few of them survived and have justified the heroic struggle they made." The Commission suggested that in order to give these institutions university status the government may consider adopting the method of creating universities by charter.
A provision was included in the University Grants Commission Act of 1956 that the institutions which have unique and distinct character of their own could enjoy the privileges of a university without losing their distinct character and autonomy.
In the first 10 years after the enactment of the UGC Act, eight institutions were notified as deemed universities. In the Seventies, the UGC decided that notification under Section 3 should be made only rarely in special cases and three institutions were conferred the deemed university status. There was a slight shift in the policy in the Eighties and 18 more institutions were added under Section 3.
Between 1956 and 1990, in 35 years, only 29 institutions were granted the deemed university status. In the last 15 years, 63 institutions were declared deemed universities and particularly in the last 5 years, 36 institutions excluding RECs have been notified as deemed universities. It may be argued that the increase in the number of deemed universities is commensurate with the increase in the number of institutions of higher learning in the country. But it should not be at the cost of quality.
"The institutions which for historical reasons or for any other circumstances are not universities, yet are doing work of high standard in specialised academic fields comparable to a university and the granting of the status of university would enable them to further contribute to the cause of higher education which would mutually enrich the institution and the university system," reads the objective defined by the University Grants Commission in its guidelines for considering any proposal for declaring an institution a deemed university under Section 3 of the UGC Act.
For the purpose of recognition as a university "the institution should generally be engaged in teaching programmes and research in chosen fields of specialisation which are innovative and of very high academic standards at the Master's and research levels. It should also have a greater interface with society through extramural extension and field-action related programmes."
The guidelines prohibit conferment of the deemed university status on institutions affiliated to universities which are offering only conventional degree programmes leading to B.A., B.Com., B.Sc. or M.A., M.Com., M.Sc.
If anyone has any more information on deemed universities, do let me know.Addendum: added on August 24, 2007.
The REPORT OF THE UGC COMMITTEE TOWARDS NEW EDUCATIONAL MANAGEMENT, 1990 provides some details of the salient features of deemed universities, the management structures of some deemed universities and states the following:
The deemed to be universities are basically societies registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act of 1860 and conform to the requirements of this Act or as a Trust with trustees being appointed and vested with legal powers and duties.
There is no authentic document providing a concrete definition of the concept of Deemed Universities. The decisions to declare these institutions as well as to maintain most of them have been made purely on ad hoc basis.
Some times back the UGC formulated some norms to identify the appropriate institutions for conferring the status of 'Deemed to be a University". Still, on the whole, several aspects of this most innovative section of the UGC Act remain more or less undefined and unclear as to the nature of its status and character. At any rate, the intention of the Section 3 of the UGC Act is to confer this distinction on highly selected institutions. In the recent past, the number of Deemed Universities has grown fast and one wonders whether it is not necessary to exercise restrain in increasing the number of these institutions.While in one sense an increase in autonomous institutions is welcome, there seems to be a mixing of concepts of autonomous colleges and Deemed Universities which are completely different ideas.
Janardhan Poojary raised the following in RAJYA SABHA STARRED QUESTION NO 102 ANSWERED ON 31.07.2006:
Will the Minister of HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT be pleased to state:-and the Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Arjun Singh stated the following in response:
(a) the criteria for conferring `deemed university` status on an unaided institute;
(b) whether a regular university and a `deemed university` enjoy same powers, privileges and are similar in all respects;
(c) whether once conferred the `deemed university` status, such institutes are out of the control of State Government and are free to prescribe their own fee and course structures;
(d) whether considering the high fees charged by such universities, UGC is contemplating tointroduce uniform fee and course structures for all such universities; and
(e) if so, the details thereof?.
(a) to (e): An institution is declared as a `deemed to be university` by the Central Government under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956 on the advice of the Commission. The Commission has laid down guidelines for considering proposals from institutions. These guidelines, inter-alia, provide that the institution should be:In an answer to RAJYA SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 3851 ANSWERED ON 22.05.2006, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Shri M.A.A. Fatmi listed all the deemed universities in the country along with the date on which they were accorded deemed university status.
1) generally engaged in teaching programmes and research, which are innovative and of a very high academic standard;
2) capable of furtlaer enriching the university system;
3) competent to undertake application-oriented programmes in emerging areas of knowledge;
4) generally, in existence for ten years or more; however, those institutions which impart education in emerging areas with promise of excellence can be considered for a provisional status under the `de-novo` category;
5) financially sound, and also create a corpus fund as prescribed by the UGC.
Universities under Section 2 (f) of the UGC Act, 1956 as well as those institutions declared as `deemed to be universities` under Section 3 of the said Act, enjoy similar academic powers of teaching, research and examination, and conferral of degrees or other awards, however, only universities created by legislatures can affiliate colleges and institutions `deemed to be universities` can have their constituent units under certain conditions specified by the UGC. All universities created by legislatures, as well as institutions declared as deemed to be universities are required to maintain standards of education, as prescribed by relevant laws.
Since Institutions are declared as Deemed to be Universities under a Central Act, regulation of fee and academic matters are under the purview of Acts of Parliament, and not under laws enacted by State Legislatures.
The University Grants Commission has no proposal for prescribing uniform fee or course structure for all deemed universities.
In an answer to RAJYA SABHA UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 1996 ANSWERED ON 11.12.2006, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Smt. D. Purandeswari made this statement.
Institutions are declared deemed-to-be-universities by the Central Government on the recommendation of the University Grants Commission (UGC) under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. In response to representations made by deemed university institutions and on the basis of a recommendation made by a Committee comprising Chairman, UGC, Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education and Secretary, Secondary and Higher Education, Government of India, the UGC issued a notification stating that there was no objection to deemed university institutions using the word "University" in their name. Such institutions would, however, be required to distinguish themselves from universities created by legislation by carrying a statement in parentheses, below their name, that they were deemed-to-be-universities under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. Similarly, universities established by Parliament or State legislature would, under their names, state in parentheses the number and year of the Act under which they were established.