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Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry Official publication of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
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EDITORIAL
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 33  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 81-82
 

Universities!


Dean, People's College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication15-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
N D Shashikiran
Dean, People's College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-4388.155107

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How to cite this article:
Shashikiran N D. Universities!. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2015;33:81-2

How to cite this URL:
Shashikiran N D. Universities!. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Oct 21];33:81-2. Available from: http://www.jisppd.com/text.asp?2015/33/2/81/155107


Talking about the Indian higher education sector, universities can be broadly classified into four types depending on the manner in which they were set up. These are central or government, state or health, deemed, and private universities. Besides these four, there are institutes which are designated as "institutes of national importance".

Central (Government) universities are set up by an act of Parliament. There are 20 central universities in the country. The President of India is a visitor at all central universities. The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the agency that provides funding for maintenance and development of these universities. These universities usually enjoy higher reputation domestically and they are often among the most influential research institutions in the country. However in the Indian scenario, where political influence majorly governs the functioning of such bodies; it usually results in dilution of the curriculum, thereby affecting the regular time table, academic calendar, course content, etc. The institution per se therefore becomes crippled as the standards deteriorate.

State (Health) universities are setup or recognized by an act of the state legislature. State governments are responsible for establishment of state universities and provide plan grants for their development and non-plan grants for their maintenance. The UGC makes budgetary plan allocation for state universities. The foremost and ideally established one such health university is Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences centered in Bangalore, set up in 1996 by the Government of Karnataka for the regulation and promotion of higher education in health sciences throughout the state. Health universities are constantly affiliated to standard foreign universities, thereby benefitting the students in a better way. They usually encompass professional courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Nursing, Allied Sciences, etc., in the state concerned. The conduction of these courses are approved and certified by concerned apex bodies. The recognized courses range from undergraduate, post graduate, fellowship, doctoral to certification in various disciplines of health sciences. These universities have a standard protocol and streamlined functioning which is well-elaborated and continuously updated online to ensure that students and other beneficiaries are updated with latest developments in their respective disciplines. The pattern of examination is constituted and conducted under a strict and disciplined manner by experts who help to develop and recommend various standards or regulation in curriculum, pattern of evaluation, etc. State health universities are proving to be a boon for maintaining good standards in providing health education, and hence all the states should mandatorily have a health university which would regulate the functioning of all the health education-related institutes.

A deeper but less fully articulated argument is on what should be the proper role of government in higher education. Because of lack of proper support and guidance from government, usually "privatization" of universities comes into existence.

A state private university is a university established through a State/Central Act by a sponsoring body viz. a society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, or any other corresponding law for the time being in force in a state or a public trust or a company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. Private universities cherish freedom of thought and expression and give the freedom preeminence among its core values. They receive financial support from society. Private universities are often met with a conflict between two propositions: On one hand, that charging higher fees is a reasonable way of providing new and much needed funding to universities and, on the other hand, the higher fees would deter qualified students from poorer backgrounds from applying to universities. Students generally build stronger, more personal relationships with their professors and instructors as there are special programs designed to increase communication and dialogue between the two. The admission process is intensely competitive. Price can be prohibitive for lower income students, although many universities offer financial aid packages to those students who excel academically in spite of their financial backgrounds. This is because private universities rely directly on students and alumni funding in order to operate. Private universities are also much easier for a student to gain admission to, especially if the student is a resident of the state in which the university is located in. Private universities also have a significantly higher amount of extracurricular activities and programs for students to participate in, which can develop a stronger sense of community. However, the importance given to such activities and other miscellaneous guiding forces usually lead to erasing out the curriculum, altering the exam schedule, etc., which all together bring down the standards of functioning and related outcome.

An institution of higher education, other than universities, working at a very high standard in specific area of study, can be declared by the central government on the advice of the UGC as an institution 'Deemed-to-be-university'. Institutions that are deemed-to-be-universities enjoy academic status and privileges of a university. These 'Deemed-to-be-university' institutions have largely expanded the base of health-related higher education in the country. Accountability and transparency in the processing of applications for grant of status of deemed-to-be-university are scanned under Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956. Institutions of higher learning, which are not universities, are often in recognition of their high caliber of education; granted the status of a university. Such institutions are known as deemed-to-be-university or deemed university. The status of a deemed university is accorded by the UGC. Section 3 of the UGC Act, provides for the conferring of this status of autonomy granted to high performing institutes and departments of various universities in India. They do not just own full autonomy in setting course work and syllabus of those institutes and research centers, but also allow it to set its own guidelines for the admissions, fees, and instructions to the students. These universities cater students from diversified areas. Functioning and professionalism in these universities usually prove to be better and promising than private universities.

A certain tension between society's expectations and university's need for freedom and financial support is inevitable. I believe that managing this tension better depends first on developing a greater, shared understanding of the relationship between universities and society, and the role of finance in mediating that relationship. From the understanding, ideas about practical ways of improving things flow readily.

Society provides financial support to universities through five channels: Student and their families, alumni and friends, charitable foundations, industry and government, and its agencies administering public funds on behalf of society as a whole. This holds for most universities in most countries in the world. In addition, some universities, including private universities develop and manage significant revenues of their own, through endowments, business, and intellectual properties. Heavy dependence on any one of these sources brings institutional risks. A university entirely sustained by student fees would be susceptible to faddishness of consumerism, as well as putting too much of a burden on students and their families. The demand of donors could open up a route of distortion of academic purposes of the university. Funding from industry might invite a slide towards research dominated by a quest for results amenable to rapid commercialization. Exclusive dependence on endowment revenues would expose the university to the roller coaster of the financial markets. And then there is Government.

Overall, the most important factor of a successful education is how well-suited the university is to the individual student's needs and career interests. Students should consider rating their ideal university's unique program and course offerings before deciding on which university to attend.

 
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