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UGC Greenlights Off-Campus Expansion for State Private Universities, Bolstering Education Accessibility

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has paved the way for state-private universities to establish off-campus centres, marking a significant stride towards enhancing educational accessibility. This move, endorsed during the 577th UGC meeting on February 13, 2024, aligns with the objectives outlined in the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) and is poised to elevate the quality and reach of higher education in India.

According to the guidelines set forth by the UGC, state-private universities seeking to establish off-campus centres must meet stringent criteria, including a minimum operational history of five years to demonstrate stability and experience. Additionally, provisions within the respective State University Acts must facilitate the establishment of these centres, ensuring regulatory compliance and adherence to educational standards.

Experts anticipate a transformative impact on education accessibility, particularly for students residing in smaller towns and cities. The establishment of off-campus centres closer to their homes is expected to reduce the overall cost of education and broaden the spectrum of learning opportunities. States with sizable populations, such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Karnataka, are poised to witness substantial benefits from this initiative.

While 471 private universities await approval for off-campus centres from the UGC, several privately owned deemed-to-be universities have already received permission to establish such centres. This move has garnered commendation from educational institutions, with stakeholders recognizing its potential to foster excellence in education and expand learning opportunities across diverse locations.

To ensure compliance and maintain educational standards, state private universities are required to submit formal proposals to a standing committee constituted by the UGC. Quarterly inspections will be conducted, and any violations may result in the closure of the centre, with students relocated to the main campus. Additionally, a processing fee of Rs 10 lakh will be levied for the establishment of these centres, as outlined in the notice.

The UGC’s decision to permit off-campus expansion for state private universities signifies a progressive step towards democratizing education and empowering students with greater access to high-quality educational infrastructure.

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