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Violating rules

Why are the HRD ministry and UGC, which were in a great hurry to roll back Delhi University’s four-year degree programme, turning a blind eye to UGC rules being violated by institutes offering distance learning degree courses?

education Updated: Jul 23, 2014 11:50 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Hindustan Times

The Human Resource Development Ministry (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) seemed to be in a great hurry to get Delhi University’s four year undergraduate programme replaced by the three-year degree course. However, the ministry and the commission both seem strangely reluctant to take action against the dozens of state and private universities violating UGC norms by offering distance learning degree courses through institutes outside their territorial jurisdiction. Critics of the notification, however, say it has no rationale.

Interestingly, some of these courses have not even been approved in some of the universities’ home states by the erstwhile regulator, the Distance Education Council (DEC) or the present regulator, the Distance Education Bureau (DEB) under UGC. These include MSc in fashion communication, MBA in interior designing, BSc in operation theatre technology, MBA in fire safety, and BSc in airlines and hospitality, to name a few.

There are many universities which have granted affiliations outside their states to a number of institutes in Delhi. These include Karnataka State Open University (to which Dia IMS Design and Innovation Academy in Delhi is affiliated), Mewar University (to which the Asian Academy of Film and Television, Delhi, is linked), and Shobhit University (which has granted affiliation to the International Women Polytechnic). Such affiliations violate UGC’s notification dated June 27, 2013. This notification has restricted state and private universities from offering courses beyond their territorial boundaries.

“It has made a mockery of the whole distance learning system. The UGC should enforce its notification or thousands of students will have the validity of their degrees questioned. So while universities and institutes will make money, the students will suffer,” says Prof Yashpal, former UGC vice chairperson.

Prof (Dr) Surabhi Banerjee, vice chancellor, Central University of Orissa, says that while she is not in favour of any territorial restriction on any university in the distance learning mode, “if there is a notification regulating territorial jurisdiction, all universities must respect it.”

Experts like G Viswanathan, a former member of parliament and founder and chancellor of VIT University are critical of the UGC notification, saying “it (the notification) has no rationale. The UGC didn’t consult other stakeholders and came out with the notification in an arbitrary manner. Now what can happen if the private and state-funded universities refuse to obey UGC? The commission can derecognise them and it will lead to numerous litigations all over the country.”

A former legal counsel of UGC, requesting anonymity, says “It’s a time bomb, which, when it explodes, will impact the careers of lakhs of students across the country.” He refers to a similar matter related to degrees granted through study centres by deemed-to-be universities, which is under litigation in the Supreme Court. Such degrees have no approval from the regulatory bodies and are offered outside the universities’ territorial limits.

Their defence
Many Institutes in Delhi claim they can sell distance learning degree programmes from universities which exist in other states. This is what they have to say

Karnataka State Open University, Karnataka
“We can do it as our state act allows to do so. We don’t need to follow UGC,” says PS Naik, registrar, KSOU

Shobhit University, Uttar Pradesh
“Any Institute claiming to be affiliated to us is lying. We are not offering any course outside the state,” says RP Aggarwal, VC

Jodhpur National University, Rajasthan
“Students should not take admission in institutes which claim to have our affiliation,” says, Prof (Dr) VP Gupta, VC

Mewar University, Rajasthan
“We are only the affiliating institute for training centres. There is not violation of UGC norms,” Devender Singh, Asst director

The UGC should enforce its notification or thousands of students will have the validity of their degrees questioned -- Prof Yashpal, former UGC vice chairperson

First Published: Jul 23, 2014 11:38 IST