The University Grants Commission (UGC) has not given approval to master’s degrees of public administration, sociology and education run by the Punjabi University under the distance education mode.
The university has been running these degree courses since 2012.
As per the gazette notification of the government of India, all the degrees, diplomas, certificates awarded through the distance education mode will be recognised for the purpose of employment under the central government, provided they have been approved by the UGC.
The last effort of the Punjabi University to get ex-post facto approval for these degrees from the UGC has not yielded any results. The UGC, while approving all courses started before 2012, did not accord recognition to these three degrees, apart from the post graduate diploma in HIV/AIDS counselling and post graduate diploma in forensic science, which the university also offered under the distance education mode.
Facing embarrassment, the university has now refunded fees of nearly 400 students who were enrolled in these courses for the current academic session. T
This administrative lapse of the university staff has also perturbed vice-chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh, who is now personally motioning the every issue related to UGC approvals.
Notably, the Union ministry of human resource development, in an order in 2012, transferred the regulatory authority of distance education from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to the UGC.
The UGC’s disapproval to three master’s degree courses has brought the working of Dr Zamshed Ali Khan, former head of distance education department of Punjabi University, under the cloud as he had started these courses without the prior approval. He even did not write for approval even after starting courses.
Sources said Dr Khan’s role was also under scanner for launching MA (education), without the UGC approval, in order to increase the strength of the faculty, in which his wife was appointed as assistant professor by violating the UGC norms. This selection has already been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana high court. Khan was not available for comments, despite repeated attempts by HT.
Dr Balbir Singh, head of distance education department, said that as the UGC didn’t approve these courses with retrospective effect, the university has scrapped the MA degrees in sociology, education and public administration under the distance education mode. “Student are advised to shift their courses or claim their deposited fee from the department,” he said. He said the university will make a fresh request to the UGC in October to start these courses from the next academic session.