UGC policy on foreign universities threat to Indian democracy: DU teachers' body

DU Teachers' body states that new UGC policy will lead to high education costs, decrease quality of education and create poverty of education.

UGC policy on foreign universities threat to Indian democracy: DU teachers' body University Grants Commission.
Ishita Ranganath | Jan 9, 2023 - 1:48 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission's (UGC) new draft regulations will be allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India with full autonomy in decisions related to admission procedure and fee structure. The Delhi University teacher's body, Democratic Teachers' Front (DTF) said that this move is a "threat to Indian democracy."

The DU teacher's body called on students, teachers, parents and citizens to resist and oppose the step that will "allow explicit profit making in higher education." In addition to this, education provided by the foreign universities will become unaffordable to majority of the Indian population, said the DTF.

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In a press statement, the DTF said that the UGC draft on foreign universities is "peddling fallacious dreams of an Ivy league education at affordable costs." Currently, public-funded universities are lacking funds that is resulting in a "slow but steady erosion of the quality of education" while forcing them to take out loans inadvertently increasing cost of education.

"The increase in the cost of education will result in exclusion of a large section of our society, especially the deprived, that seeks empowerment through education. It will also lead to a mismatch between the demand for and availability of skilled workers," said the press statement.

DTF also empahsises how the government will not allow the foreign universities to offer online courses, recognising the fact that they lack in quality, however, public-universities are being "cynically" pushed with online education to further private higher education. This will not only increase poverty in education but also undermine teachers' roles and rights in the teaching and learning process, said the statement.

The DU democratic teachers' front calls UGC regulations on academic bank of credits (ABC) and national credit framework for online courses through SWAYAM "double standards and government's clear intentions to bring down the quality of education."

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Both UGC's ABC system and credit framework allows a students to pursue up to 50% of their course through online teaching while another regulation of blended learning mandates further 40% of each paper taught by teachers online in the form of video lectures. These initiatives lead to up to 70% of the students' course being digitised, the government has further planned to start National Digital University (NDU) which will allow a student to pursue any courses fully online.

Giving autonomy to foreign universities will result in exorbitant fees for students and exploitative service conditions on teachers along with salaries below current UGC regulations in order to maximise profit, further added the statement. "These institutions, when allowed to function on the principle of profit making, will see an exodus of senior experienced teachers from public funded universities, while they would offer exploitative working conditions for all other teachers and employees."

In 2012, the government tried to introduce a foreign university bill, this move was shelved due to stiff opposition. "The Modi Government does not seem to have drawn the appropriate lessons from that resistance or from its recent setbacks in its attempts to further corporate encroachment in peasant agriculture," said the statement.

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