On May 13, 2015, HT Education had first highlighted the issue of MoUs violating education regulator University Grants Commission’s (UGC) 2003 regulations. These agreements had been signed by Mewar University (MU) with the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), Institute of Apparel Management (IAM), and many other vocational training institutes to grant degrees on their behalf.
Now, Mewar University has scrapped these MoUs, putting a question mark over the fate of thousands of students who have taken up its programmes.
A week after the story was published in HT Education, UGC had confirmed that its rules of 2003 had been violated. Since then, the commission has been threatening action against MU for blatantly violating its norms and offering invalid degree courses to the students. Under pressure to mend its ways, MU has put an end to its collaboration with all the institutes, a development which will save thousands of students from getting degree certificates not recognised by the education regulator.
Confirming the move, MU chairman AK Gadia told this correspondent that he had “received a letter from UGC to terminate all such MoUs with institutes, so I have to do that.” Other institutes which have also discontinued their degrees are Indian Tourism Development Corporation, New Delhi, Fragrance and Flavour Development Centre, Kannauj, Indian Institute of Learning and Advance Development, Gurgaon, Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery, Jaipur, among others.
FDDI has informed its students about the discontinuation of MoUs. “FDDI has discontinued its association with Mewar University, hence FDDI will not be offering degree courses,” reads a letter from the institute to its students.
However, the bigger question relates to the future of thousands of students who have been pursuing unauthorised degree programmes under the MoUs. “Institutes like FDDI have charged a huge fee ranging from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh from the students for granting degrees for courses like bachelor of design and MBA in footwear design and production management. What will happen to theses students? Will UGC file an FIR against these institutes and the university for duping students,” asks Kamal Gupta, relative of a student pursuing a degree course from FDDI.
Students and parents have also alleged harassment by FDDI for talking to the media and sharing internal information of the institute with outsiders. “When I took admission in 2012 in their five-year business management programme, the institute promised me an exit option after three years, but now they are denying it. They are forcing us to continue with the course. I have to appear in a counselling session for an MBA in IP University but FDDI has not announced the result of my degree course. A faculty member has threatened to ‘fail’ me if I discuss the matter with any mediaperson,” says a student.
No FDDI official responded to these allegations. A message sent to Ajay Kumar, FDDI’s officiating managing director, by this correspondent, did not get a response. On the other hand, IAM, which claimed in a newspaper advertisement on June 8, 2015, that it could offer degree programmes, clarified that the advertisement had been released ‘by mistake.’ “We have instructed our ad agency not to release any old advertisement as it sends out misleading information to students,” says Somesh Singh, director, IAM, Gurgaon.