UGC asks states to appoint ombudsmen to help students

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has passed on to the state governments the responsibility of appointing ombudsmen for addressing the grievances of students of the universities and colleges functioning under them.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has passed on to the state governments the responsibility of appointing ombudsmen for addressing the grievances of students of the universities and colleges functioning under them.

The commission has brought in this provision in its revised regulations for redressal of the students' grievances as many universities and colleges have not yet appointed ombudsmen citing various reasons even as it was mandatory under the UGC's 2012 rules.

For the central universities and institutions deemed to be universities, the ombudsmen will be appointed by the central government in the respective regions, according to the UGC (Redress of Grievances of Students) Regulations, 2019, notified in an official gazette on May 6.

The higher education regulator has also dropped the provision which stipulated that either a retired judge, not below the rank of a district judge, or a professor with a minimum 10 years experience can be appointed as ombudsman.

Under the revised regulations, the ombudsman shall be “a person of eminence” in academics or research, who had been vice chancellor of a university.

The commission has revised the rules on the basis of the feedback from the stakeholders to strengthen the grievance redressal mechanism for the students of both public and private institutions. 

Complaints of the students seeking admission in any university and college will also be heard.

Under the revised rules, it is mandatory for the institutions to come up with a web portal for accepting students complaints within three months from the date of the notification of the revised regulations. Institutions will also have to publish their prospectus and other key details like fee on their websites. 

Failure of the institutions to comply with the regulations will attract tough actions from the UGC which may lead to the withdrawal of recognition in the worst case.

Under the revised regulations, each of the colleges will have to constitute a five-member Collegiate Student Grievance Redressal Committee comprising three senior faculty member and a students representative with Principal being its chairperson.

Universities will have to set up students' grievance redressal committee at each of the departments, centres and schools under their respective heads. The five-member panel will comprise two professors from outside and one students representative as a special invitee.

Besides, Institutional Student Grievance Redressal Committee will have to be constituted at the level of the university for dealing with grievances pertaining to hostels and other facilities.

Grievances arising out of the decisions of the above three committees will be heard by the University Student Grievance Redressal Committee to be set up separately.

The office of the Ombudsmen will only hear the appeal of the students if they remain dissatisfied with the actions/decisions taken by institution level committees.

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