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University and Higher Education System


Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous increase in the number of Universities/University level Institutions & Colleges since Independence. The number of Universities has increased 34 times from 20 in 1950 to 677 in 2014. The sector boasts of 46 Central Universities of which 40 are under the purview of Ministry of Human Resource Development, 318 State Universities, 185 State Private universities, 129 Deemed to be Universities, 51 Institutions of National Importance (established under Acts of Parliament) under MHRD (IITs – 16, NITs – 30 and IISERs – 5) and four Institutions (established under various State legislations). The number of colleges has also registered a manifold increase of 74 times with just 500 in 1950 growing to 37,204, as on 31st March, 2013.

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The quantum growth in the Higher Education sector is spear-headed by Universities, which are the highest seats of learning.

In India, “University” means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in accordance with the regulations made in this regard under the UGC Act, 1956. Every year, millions of students from within the country and abroad, enter these portals mainly for their graduate, post-graduate studies while millions leave these portals for the world outside.

Higher Education is the shared responsibility of both the Centre and the States. The coordination and determination of standards in Universities & Colleges are entrusted to the UGC and other statutory regulatory bodies.

The Central Government provides grants to the UGC and establishes Central Universities/Institutions of National Importance in the country. The Central Government is also responsible for declaring an educational institution as “Deemed-to-be University” on the recommendations of the UGC.


At present, the main categories of University/University-level Institutions are :- Central Universities, State Universities, Deemed-to-be Universities and University-level institutions. These are described as follows:


Central University:

A university established or incorporated by a Central Act.


State University:

A university established or incorporated by a Provincial Act or by a State Act.


Private University:

A university established through a State/Central Act by a sponsoring body viz. A Society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, or any other corresponding law for the time being in force in a State or a Public Trust or a Company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.


Deemed-To-Be University:

An Institution Deemed to be University, commonly known as Deemed University, refers to a high-performing institution, which has been so declared by Central Government under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956.


Institution of National Importance:

An Institution established by Act of Parliament and declared as Institution of National Importance.


Institution Under State Legislature Act:

An Institution established or incorporated by a State Legislature Act.

University Grants Commission(UGC)


The University Grants Commission is a statutory organization established by an Act of Parliament in 1956 for the coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of university education. Apart from providing grants to eligible universities and colleges, the Commission also advises the Central and State Governments on the measures which are necessary for the development of Higher Education. It functions from New Delhi as well as its Seven Regional offices located in Bangalore, Bhopal, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.


  • National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi

NCERT is an organisation set up by the Government of India, with headquarters located at Sri Aurbindo Marg in New Delhi, to assist and advise the central and state governments on academic matters related to school education. It was established in 1961.


Inter University Centres (IUCs)

The UGC establishes autonomous Inter-University Centres within the university system under Clause 12(ccc) of the UGC Act. The objectives for setting up these centres are:

  • To provide common advanced centralized facilities/services for universities which are not able to invest heavily in infrastructure and other inputs.
  • To play a vital role in offering the best expertise in each field to teachers and researchers across the country.
  • To provide access for research and teaching community to the state-of-the-art equipment and excellent library facilities which are comparable to international standards.

The Nuclear Science Centre at New Delhi (now called Inter University Accelerator Centre) was the first research centre established in 1994. As of today, six Inter University Centres are functioning within the university system, which is as follows:

  • Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi

Inter University Accelerator Centre was the first Inter-University Centre to be established by the UGC in 1984. The primary objective of the Centre is to establish within the university system a world class facilities for accelerator based research. Its aim is to formulate common research programmes of research and development in collaboration with universities, IITs and other research institutions. It promotes group activities and human research development in experimental science and other branches of knowledge.


  • Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astro-Physics (IUCAA), Pune

Information IUCAA, Pune was set up in 1988 as an autonomous centre of excellence to help initiate and nurture, research and developmental activities in Astronomy and Astrophysics in the University sector. IUCAA was set up with the basic purpose of providing advanced centralized facilities for subjects not adequately covered in the university departments and colleges.

  • UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research (UGC-DAECSR), Indore

UGC-DAE was created in the year 1990 with the broad objective of developing competence and promoting research in frontline areas of science and technology in Indian Universities by providing institutional framework for optimum utilisation of major research facilities established by the department of Atomic Energy such as Dhruv Reactor of Mumbai, VECC at Kolkata and Synchrotron Radiation Sources at Indore. The facilities of IUC can be availed by scientists from any university.

  • Information and Library Network (INFLIBNET), Ahmedabad, Estd. 1996

An Inter-University Centre of UGC the INFLIBNET serves towards modernization of Libraries, serves as Information Centre for transfer and access of information, supporting scholarships and learning and academic pursuits through a National Network of Libraries in around 264 Universities, Colleges and R&D Institutions across the country.

  • Consortium for Educational Communication (CEC), New Delhi

The Consortium for Educational Communication popularly known as CEC is one of the Inter University Centres set up by the University Grants Commission. It has been established with the goal of addressing the needs of Higher Education through the use of powerful medium of Television alongwith the appropriate use of emerging Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Realizing the potential and power of television to act as means of Educational Knowledge dissemination, UGC started the Countrywide Classroom Programmes in the year 1984. For production of educational programmes, initially Media Centres were set up at 6 Universities. Subsequently CEC was setup in 1993 as a nodal agency to coordinate, guide & facilitate such educational programme production through its Media Centres. Today 22 Media Centres now known as Educational Multimedia Research Centres (EMRCs) are working towards achieving this goal under the umbrella of CEC.

  • National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore

National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) was established by the UGC in September 1994 at Bangalore for evaluating the performance of the Universities and Colleges in the Country. NAAC’s mandate includes the task of performance evaluation, assessment and accreditation of universities and colleges in the country. The philosophy of NAAC is based on objective and continuous improvement rather than being punitive or judgmental, so that all institutions of higher learning are empowered to maximize their resources, opportunities and capabilities. Assessment is a performance evaluation of an institution and /or its units and is accomplished through a process based on self-study and peer review using defined criteria. Accreditation refers to the certification given by NAAC which is valid for a period of five years. At present the Assessment and Accreditation by NAAC is done on a voluntary basis.

  • Inter University Centre for International Studies,Osmania University Campus Hyderabad.

The UGC has established Inter-University Centres (IUCs) for centrally providing state-of-the-art equipment & facilities for the benefit of researchers working in different universities. So far, these IUCS have been established mainly in the filed of science and technology. The UGC proposed to establish the first IUC in the field of Humanities and Social Science by taking over academic and physical infrastructure available at Indo-American Centre for International Studies.

  • Inter University Centre for Teacher Education, Kakinada

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