The UGC and You: Understanding University Accreditation in India

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India’s education system operates according to the regulations set in place by both the national government, via the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and the governments of the states and territories. At the junior and senior secondary level (Standard X and Standard XII), students will enroll in either public or private schools. At the end of years 10 and 12, they may complete graduation exams issued by state/territorially governed examination boards. For instance, the Board of Higher Secondary Examinations is run directly by the government of the Kerala state. Students can also take exams administered by examination boards that are overseen by the central government of India. When students complete their senior secondary (Standard XII) final examinations, university admission becomes accessible.

Unlike secondary education, university-level institutions receive their oversight from one main, central accrediting body: The University Grants Commission, or UGC. The UGC website tells of its history in-depth. The organization dates to the end of World War II, where the University Education Committee, as it was first named, was created to oversee higher education in India. At first, though, the Committee only monitored universities in just a few territories, but within a few years it was overseeing all the higher education institutions in India.

When India became independent from the UK in 1947, there came talks of restructuring the UGC after England’s University Grants Commission. The new government wanted the UGC in India to oversee distribution of publicly funded grants. Finally, in 1956, through Parliamentary order, the University Grants Commission was established and regulating higher education in India.

Today, the University Grants Commission has regional offices located throughout India that serve the universities of each state, with New Delhi serving as the central office. The UGC website posts updates within the organization and information about academic institutions. One useful link they provide is a list of all accredited academic institutions. The way the UGC accredits and awards grants is according to a variety of institutional labels:

Central Universities - these are institutions that are created through an official Act of Parliament. Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi is an example of a Central University.

State Universities – institutions that are overseen by the state and territorial governments. State Universities can have affiliated colleges. This is the case for Loreto College, which is an affiliate college of the University of Calcutta, both located in Kolkata, West Bengal.

State Private Universities – Private schools that are accredited by the UGC. These institutions are not allowed to have affiliated colleges. Private Universities need to have UGC approval in order to have affiliated colleges. So far, according to the UGC, there have not been any.

Deemed University- this is a status for institutions that is instead bestowed by the Ministry of Higher Education, although the UGC must approve the Deemed status. Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) is a Deemed University located in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

The UGC also has an official list of fake universities that it always keeps available on their website. This is a useful tool for authenticating if any institutions are known to be considered fake.

Overall, the UGC is best regarded as the prime accreditation agency for Indian higher education. The UGC website serves as a useful tool for admissions counselors and credential evaluators for helping determine the credibility of any given Indian academic institution. Indian students who wish to apply to schools or work abroad should take comfort in knowing that if their school is accredited by the UGC , then their credentials could be evaluated to other countries’ standards. The UGC oversees and serves the schools of India, but its accreditation enables students to expand their education internationally.

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