UGC’s Bold Move Towards Transparency Sends Shockwaves Through Colleges

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In a surprising turn of events, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated a groundbreaking step towards transparency in higher education.

Colleges across the country have been taken aback by the UGC’s decision, which now mandates all higher educational institutes (HEIs) to upload comprehensive details on their official websites. Astonishingly, many colleges, especially in rural and suburban areas, find themselves without an official website, and others have failed to update theirs. This revelation came to light following numerous complaints received by the UGC, ranging from financial fraud allegations to mismanagement by college authorities.

Under the new UGC rule, HEIs are obligated to disclose a plethora of details on their websites, including affiliation, NAAC status, office bearers, prospectus, fee structure, and the fee refund policy. Additionally, institutions are required to feature photos of faculty members along with their contact numbers. These details are to be made publicly accessible for feedback and scrutiny.

This mandate is expected to prompt colleges to establish or upgrade their websites, enhance infrastructural facilities, and ensure a secure learning environment for students.

The UGC rule specifies that HEIs must furnish information on programs offered, institutional development plans, accreditation, ranking, and the academic calendar. Institutions are further mandated to share details about memorandums of understanding (MoUs), industry and foreign collaborations, as well as publications and patents where applicable.

The new regulations extend to a comprehensive disclosure of student support services such as hostels and details of fellowships and scholarships. HEIs are required to provide links to the academic bank of credits, the DigiLocker portal, and the national scholarship portal.

To reinforce campus harmony and well-being, UGC has established a dedicated division. Institutions are now compelled to provide links to the e-Samadhaan portal, the students’ grievance redressal committee, the internal quality assurance cell, and the internal complaints committee. Helpline numbers for the anti-ragging cell must also be prominently displayed. Additional details of the ombudsperson, equal opportunity cell, and socio-economic disadvantaged group cell (SEDG) are also required.

The move has been widely applauded by the student community, parents, and education activists who believe it will empower students to make informed decisions about their college choices.

Sachin Sonawane, a postgraduate student, expressed his approval, stating, “The UGC’s step is a huge relief to students and parents who often face financial exploitation after admission due to false assurances by institutes.”

Dr. Siddharth Meshram, a faculty member and principal, echoed this sentiment, saying, “Finally, the UGC has intervened, making it mandatory for colleges to disclose all details on their website. Students and parents have suffered due to mismanagement in various institutes, and now, their sufferings will come to an end.”

UGC Chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar emphasized the necessity of providing basic minimum information and updated content on university websites, acknowledging the inconvenience caused to stakeholders. As the third year of the National Education Policy 2020 is celebrated, the UGC aims to propel universities towards greater transparency by preparing a checklist of information to be provided on their websites.

However, the demands made by the UGC remain unmet by several universities in the state, underscoring the imperative nature of this transparency initiative. Even the University of Madras, the oldest institution in the state, falls short, offering only a few top officials’ email IDs and providing contact numbers with landline details for directors and deans of various departments. Some private and deemed universities are found lacking even this basic requirement.

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