Himachal Pradesh government stated in the assembly that it is not certain about the authenticity of degrees being provided by the fifteen private universities which came up in the state during last BJP rule.
The issue of allowing private universities to set up campuses in Himachal Pradesh was raised by the members in the question hours yesterday after putting question mark on the credentials of these institutions.
Congress member Asha Kumari asked, “Are the degrees being offered by these universities recognized or just pieces of paper? Are we playing with the future of the students? Will the degrees have any value?” She also questioned the permission granted by the government to certain universities to buy chunk of land for their campuses.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said fifteen private universities have been allowed to open campuses from Jan 1, 2008 to Dec 31, 2012.
He said, out of the fifteen universities only six of them were inspected by the University Grants Commission (UGC). “We have not received any report from the UGC (on the inspection of universities),” Mr. Singh said, who also holds higher education portfolio.
“Majority of them were allowed to buy excess land under Section 118. When 50 bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) would have been sufficient, what was the need to allow some of them to buy land upto 600 bigha. Are they fulfilling the norms (of keeping excess land)?” Mrs. Kumari asked. She also pointed out that one of the universities was allowed to buy upto 600 bigha.
The Chief Minister said ten out of the fifteen universities were allowed to buy the land from private parties. “A total of 1,685 bigha land has been purchased from private parties,” he added.
The universities set up bases included Bahra University, Arni University, Manav Bharti University, Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology and Maharishi Markandeshwar University.
Mr. Singh stated in the reply that government land was not handed over to any private institutions, however, land was provided to four universities by HIMUDA (Himachal Pradesh Urban Development Authority).