In November last year, the University Grants Commission, instructed the prestigious Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) in Mumbai, and nine other deemed universities, to shut down their off-campus centres because they they were found to be “unauthorised” as they had been set up without the higher education regulator’s permission.
This also included National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), which is affiliated to HBNI. However, days before the UGC learnt that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit the campus in Bhubaneshwar to inaugurate its permanent campus, it wasted no time in declaring the ‘off campus’ legal by removing it from the list nine illegal campuses.
After being made aware by the PMO of Modi’s scheduled visit, the UGC hurriedly organised organised a visit to the campus on 25 January to inspect its campus, faculty and facilities.
“It would have been embarrassing if the Prime Minister inaugurated the building of an institution which was labelled illegal three months ago. The crisis has been averted,” a source in the UGC was quoted by the Indian Express.
HBNI vice chancellor R B Grover said there was nothing extraordinary about it saying that ‘such things happen.’
“Such things happen. But we kept dialogue open with the UGC chairman even after the notice came. Things finally worked out and that is what matters,” he told the paper.
Among those issued notices on 9 November were Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) University, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, and Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra. The fate of their off-campus centres is still not known.