January 24, 2012

India's Universities Will Implement Ombuds for Students

India's Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided that higher education institutions shall have an Ombudsman to handle grievances from students and applicants. The new requirement will apply to all central universities, IITs, IIMs, NITS, IIITs, private and government-run deemed universities and all higher educational institutions under various Central government ministries. “The new system would be in place before the next academic year,” said HRD minister Kapil Sibal. 

 The HRD website provides more information about the scheme:
Applicants for admission and students can apply to the Ombudsman for redressal of grievances and the Ombudsman shall deliver his/her order within one month. Although the order would not be binding on the institution, the regulator would rely on the frequency of non-observance to decide on continued recognition to such institutions. 
The Ombudsman shall have the jurisdiction to hear grievances concerning denial of admission, non-observance of declared merit in admission, non-observance of applicable regulations for reservation, with-holding of documents and non refund of fees in case of withdrawal of admission, discrimination and other such matters concerning students in pursuit of studies in the institution. In case of matters concerning weaker sections such as SCs/STs/OBCs or minorities, the Ombudsman can co-opt a person of eminence from the area coming from the weaker section to assist him/her in arriving at a decision. 
Additional details are to be released by other regulatory agencies.  According to press reports, HRD decided to issue the executive order when Parliament failed to pass several higher education reform bills. (HRD Press Release; Times of India; Hindustan Times.)

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