The University Grant Commission of India has been regulating colleges since 1956. Modelled after the UGC of the United Kingdom, 15 professional councils with expertise in a variety of fields, including medicine, law, architecture and higher education, create academic standards and recommend curriculum changes. The UGC lists more than 15,000 colleges and campuses operated by 6,014 universities. Of these, it officially recognises 5,449 universities that meet its academic criteria.
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There are 135 affiliated universities. Only four were established by the UGC as national universities with the sole purpose of improving student and faculty knowledge of advanced technologies and scientific research. These four centres are operated within the University of Mumbai, Sri Venkateshwar University, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study and Anna University.
The remaining 131 are state universities, largely funded by taxpayers. These include some of India's most prestigious universities, including North Orissa, National Law, Utkal and Ranchi universities.
Deemed Universities are awarded grant money by the Ministry of Human Resource Development with the approval of the UGC. They have greater freedom in determining student curriculum, tuition costs and admissions policies. Among the 150 Deemed Universities are the Forest Research Institute, Punjab Engineering College, Indian Law Institute and Yenepoya University.
The remaining 5,000 universities are divided into three categories: "Autonomous," "Colleges With Potential for Excellence" and the generic "Colleges." Autonomous schools receive extra funding to develop unique curriculum that experiment with course offerings and teaching styles. There are 59 universities on the Autonomous list, including some of India's top programs. These include the University of Madras, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Tamil Nadu State and the University of Pune. Other notable universities on the list are Mother Theresa Women's University, University of Hyderabad and Bangalore University.
Colleges With Potential for Excellence (CPE) focus on developing good teachers. The UGC wants one per cent, or 155, of the country's colleges devoted to developing quality teachers. Among the Autonomous Universities receiving CPE funding are Kakatiya, Mangalore and Rani Durgavati Universities. Women's colleges are frequently selected for CPE programs.
The rest fall under the broad category of Colleges. These can be basic liberal arts universities, though many specialise in law, medicine, engineering and various trades. While not cited for specific UGC programs, several are among India's top schools, including the Indira Gandhi Institute for Developmental Research, Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science.
The UGC does not recognise 565 universities not meeting its academic standards. Though they can grant degrees, they are officially branded as "Fakes." If courses and faculty improve, they are free to apply for UGC approval. They can be found in big cities, but often target rural areas underserved by UGC-recognised schools.
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