In was reported in the Indian media 2 weeks ago (23 Jan) that the Delhi University (DU) from New Delhi, India, is planning to set up an overseas campus to make the most of Modi’s new National Education Policy. It was also reported that Singapore is currently one of the places under consideration to locate its overseas campus.
DU’s acting vice-chancellor Prof P C Joshi told the media in an interview, “We want to expand the scope of education across the world. The revised NEP has given a golden opportunity to universities, and we want to make the most of it. We are looking to expand our campus and some of the places under consideration are Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Singapore and Mauritius.”
“We have a strong alumni network based in the south Asian sub-continent, and we wish to channelise all our resources to develop a strong international presence,” he added.
DU is one of several institutions the Modi’s government has shortlisted under its “Institutes of Eminence” (IoE) scheme, which was launched in 2018, with an aim to put India on the global education map. Currently, Indian presence on global excellence lists is negligible, with even the best universities failing to be featured among the top 100.
Earlier this month, the University Grants Commission (UGC) gave the green flag to IoEs to set up off-shore campuses, as part of NEP’s stated intent of “internationalisation of education”. According to the UGC, an IoE shall be permitted to start a maximum of three off-campus centres in five years.
In 2020, as part of its plan to improve facilities so as to qualify as an IoE, DU started nine new departments, including those on climate change and public health, and lined up the construction of hostels with shopping facilities etc. DU is now looking into setting up an overseas campus. Other IoEs are also said to be considering setting up their own.
According to Times Higher Education’s ranking, DU is ranked 601-800th in the world while Singapore’s NUS is ranked 25th:
Delhi University accused of mismanagement of university funds
Delhi University, however, is not without controversies.
Last Nov, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia released a public statement at a press conference accusing DU of hiding and mismanaging public funds allocated to the university by the state government (‘Delhi University colleges hid, mismanaged funds’: Manish Sisodia, 7 Nov 2020).
A special audit by the Delhi government has found serious financial irregularities in DU’s finances. Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia said that despite showing a surplus, salaries of teachers and staff were not released.
“After receiving complaints of mismanagement of funds, we sanctioned a special audit to examine the fund expenditure of five colleges funded by the Delhi government. Despite their resistance to the audit, it is clear that these colleges have been grossly mismanaging funds, as shown by the report of the audit,” the minister told the media.
Apparently, when the special audit was first initiated by Delhi government, the audit team was obstructed by DU colleges. DU resisted in showing their account books to the audit officers. The books were only shown when the High Court intervened. “Two major issues have emerged in the special audit; unauthorised payments by the college, and surplus funds being stashed by the colleges,” explained the minister.
Even after the intervention by Delhi’s High Court, two colleges of DU continued to disallow the official audit to be carried out, noted the minister.
The minister alleged that multiple irregularities have been brought up by the audit such as payment of teaching, and non-teaching staff against the posts that did not have sanction of the Directorate of Higher Education, unsanctioned hiring of security guards and housekeeping staff, purchase of computers and other hardware without following procedures, and hiring of cars without following regulations. Moreover, the record of attendance of some of the supposedly hired people could not be found.
The minister said all the money spent by these colleges of DU was unauthorised, without seeking any approval from the Delhi Government as the colleges continued to make illegal payments. “Paying salaries of Rs 40,000 to security guards is a clear violation of this as standard pay is between 15,000-20,000. These inflated salaries imply this was done to hide their own misappropriation,” he said.
“Any source of earning, and the total income received by the college from fees has to be declared to Delhi Government. However, these colleges violated this pattern of assistance as large, undeclared incomes in their accounts have been found by the auditors. This constitutes ‘fraud’ as these colleges kept taking funding from the government on false premises.”
The minister added that despite having surplus funds, the DU colleges have failed to pay salaries of staff, and falsely blamed the Delhi government instead.