Paramedical courses through distance learning?
Students admitted to paramedical programmes in institutes affiliated to universities outside their states stand to lose a lot – their time, money and good career prospects. Many institutes are conducting entrance examinations for paramedical degree courses which violate University Grants Commission (UGC) norms.
When Satvik Gupta applied for the entrance examination conducted by the Delhi Institute of Technology and Research (DIRT); which offers degree and masters courses in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, medical lab technology, radiation technology etc; he was in for a shock. “When I visited the institute, the counsellor told me that the institute was affiliated to NIMS, a private university in Rajasthan, and that the courses were conducted though the distance learning mode. Regular classroom courses cost `1.2 lakh for the full three-year programme. The counsellor also informed me that even if I had not filled the entrance examination form, I was eligible for admission on payment of `20,000; which would be adjusted against the total fee,” says Gupta.
Academic and medical experts express serious concerns about degree courses in paramedical studies being offered through the distance learning mode. “Doing so would violate the University Grant Commission’s notification of June 27, 2013, which said that state and private universities could not offer courses beyond state territory. So, these degree courses are not valid. If these institutes are acting as regular off-campus study centres of other state and private universities, they violate the Supreme Court order passed in the Prof Yashpal vs State of Chhattisgarh case, which stated that private universities could not have off-campus study centres in other states,” says a former UGC legal counsel.
DIRT is not the only institute which holds an entrance exam for admissions. The Delhi Para Medical and Management Institute (DPMI), Institute of Professional Studies and Research, (IPSR), Rajiv Gandhi Paramedical Institute etc all offer degree courses of private and state universities of other states through distance learning with regular off-campus programmes. The institutes offering affiliations are the Karnataka State Open University (Mysore), Manav Bharti University, Solan (Himachal Pradesh), DBHPS University (Chennai), Swamivivekanand University (Madhya Pradesh), Jodhpur National University (Rajasthan), Madhav University (Rajasthan), OPJS University (Rajasthan), Tantia University etc.
Efforts to get in touch with representatives of these institutes proved futile as they refused comment on the affiliations they had granted. Other private institutes contacted said students do not lack good training opportunities as they had tie-ups with private hospitals. However, they agree that these students may not get jobs in government hospitals due to validity issues related to the degree courses.
“Students should choose government colleges for doing paramedical courses. The University Colleges of Medical Sciences (Delhi University) offer courses in BSc (medical technology) radiography and MSc (medical imaging technology) radiography. The Indian Medical Association also conducts diploma courses in paramedical sciences,” says a senior doctor from RML Hospital.