About 200 students from Jammu and Kashmir pursuing various undergraduate courses under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) in an off-campus study centre of Mewar University in Vasundahra, Ghaziabad, stand the risk of having the validity of their degrees questioned once they complete their courses.
This study centre, running in compete violation of UGC norms and a Supreme Court judgment (Prof Yashpal case, 2005) banning off-campus study centres for regular courses, is offering degree courses in law, physiotherapy, business administration, bachelor of technology, computer application, biotechnology etc.
A university staff member, requesting anonymity, says, “These students are staying in campus hostels and attending regular classes under the PMSSS. The university has access to the students’ scholarship money (ranging from Rs. 1.3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh for each student depending on the course he/she is pursuing).”
Speaking to this correspondent, one of the students, Mohammad Saifullah, says, “I am in third year law. There are 200 students in the Vasundhara Centre of the university and we are satisfied with our studies.”
When asked if he thought his degree was valid, Saifullah said, “I don’t know. All I know is that this is a UGC-recognised university.”
On being contacted, Ashok Kumar Gadiya, chairperson, Mewar University, denied admitting any student in the Vasundhara centre, adding, “We have about 1200 students from Jammu and Kashmir but all of them are studying in the main campus of the university at Chittorgarh. We are only running an information centre here. Not a single student is studying here,” he said.
A source in the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) confirmed that there were many more private universities which had either opened off-campus study centres in other states or granted affiliation to other institutes. “These private universities have admitted a large number of students and have shifted them to their off-campus centres or other affiliated institutes. In both cases, degrees from such institutes would be invalid. The question is: Why is the UGC quiet about this even when the study centres are playing with the lives of these students?”