Poor faculty in Himachal private universities: CAG

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Shimla, April 8 (IANS) Fifteen out of 17 private universities in Himachal Pradesh have faculty not possessing minimum qualifications, especially at the level of professor and associate professor, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

This fact came to light in the CAG performance audit to ascertain the standard of higher education and regulatory mechanism governing functioning of the universities.

Moreover, there was a significant shortage of faculty particularly of professors (38 per cent) and associate professors (61 per cent).

The CAG said that only three universities had obtained accreditation from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council till March last year.

The 17 private universities were established in the state from 2002 to 2014.

The assessment of need for private universities was not made. Ten private universities are located in Solan district alone; four in one gram panchayat, indicating that regional needs and priorities were not considered, said the auditor.

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For regulation of private universities, the Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission was established in February 2011 through an act of the state legislature.

Picking holes in the working of the regulatory commission, the CAG observed there was an acute shortage of manpower in the commission.

A total of 1,394 courses in private universities during 2011-17 were approved by the commission without conducting inspections to ascertain availability of infrastructure and staff.

Even the fees proposed by the universities had been approved by the state government without considering costing elements.

Three universities — Bahra University, Chitkara University and Jaypee University of Information Technology — had increased fees of B. Tech course by 21, 23 and 58 per cent in 2017-18 compared to the previous fiscal without justification. This resulted in arbitrariness in charging of fees, said the CAG.

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Flouting the Himachal Pradesh High Court’s directive of April 2016, the auditor found three of the nine test-checked private universities, i.e. Baddi University, Jaypee University and Shoolini University of Biotechnology and Management Sciences, had charged Rs 4.58 crore on account of development charges in 2016-17.

The placement record says APG University, Chitkara University, Eternal University and Jaypee University had placed over 60 per cent of their students, while Arni University and Manav Bharti University did not even manage to get 15 per cent of their students placed.

A total of 352 candidates had been enrolled for doctorate in only four out of the nine test-checked private universities. A maximum of 298 students are in Shoolini University.

The CAG said 67 research projects were undertaken with government funding of Rs 17 crore in these four universities, of which 32 projects were completed, 34 incomplete and one project was abandoned.

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By not placing sufficient emphasis on conducting research work, private universities were not adhering to the proposals submitted by them at the time of seeking approval for establishment.

–IANS

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