HRD minister’s statement on dual degrees has no impact
NO APPROVALS Despite the HRD minister’s statement in Parliament that tie-ups between Indian and international institutes need UGC approval, there have so far been no checks on such alliances
UK Department for Inter national Development (DFID) is offering Commonwealth Scholarships for developing countries’ students to pursue master’s, PhD and split- site ( PhD) degree programme at UK universities. Awards are made in respect of full- time study only and no other course of study may be undertaken at the same time. The application deadline is November 19, 2015. If a programme offered by a private college seems tempting because you are told it will also give you a chance to study abroad in a foreign institute, stop and do your checks first because such degrees are invalid. On July 27, 2015, the minister of human resource development Smriti Irani, in a written reply to Parliament, had said, “The University Grants Commission (UGC) has not approved any joint degree between a foreign university and private institute in India.” Later, on August 12, 2015, while referring to the UGC (Promotion and Maintenance of Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Education Institutions) Regulations 2012, she again told Parliament, “At present there is no provision for awarding dual degrees under these regulations.”
Ironically, on August 8, 2015, a t op university i n Noida announced its collaboration with a US-based university for dual degrees.
Earlier, on July 1, 2015, and on July 22, HT Education had revealed how courses were being run by top academies (some even charging fees of 25 lakh) in India in collaboration with international institutes, without the UGC being approached for approvals.
The two stories led to a flurry of questions in Parliament, both in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Various parliamentarians, Wansuk Syiem, Vasanti M, KN Balagopal, Mahesh Girri, KRP Prabakaran, S R Vijaya Kumar, Joice George, Nalin Kumar Kateel and Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, questioned the government on the validity of the joint degree programmes, government policies and the existing laws related to foreign universities’ campuses in India.
On July 27, replying to the questions of Wansuk Syiem on the validity of joint degrees and legal provisions related to foreign degrees, Irani admitted that joint degrees were not valid. “The UGC has informed that the UGC (Promotion and Maintenance of Standards of Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Education Institutions) Regulations, 2012, have been notified in order to ensure the quality and standards of higher education provided by foreign educational institutions through collaborations, partnership, twinning arrangements with the Indian Higher Educational Institutions. According to these regulations, it is mandatory for any Indian Educational Institution (IEI) desirous of collaboration with Foreign Educational Institution (FEI) to seek approval of affiliating university prior to entering into any collaborative agreement. The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) has stated that the AIU policy for granting equivalence to such foreign degrees that have been awarded for studies undertaken in India, requires the educational institution to adhere to the UGC Regulation and/or All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) guidelines in this regard,” she said.
However, when asked to take action against educational institutes violating norms, Irani passed the buck on to the regulatory bodies, saying, “The UGC, AICTE and AIU are competent to take cognizance of educational malpractices and issue advisories to safeguard the interests of students.” Replying to another question raised on August 3, 2015, by parliamentarian KN Balagopal, on foreign educational institutes working directly or indirectly in the country and advertisements of tie-ups of Indian and international institutes, Irani replied, “The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) had undertaken a study on ‘Foreign Education Providers in India’ and published its findings in 2012. As per the study there were 635 Foreign Education Providers (FEP) operating in India under different modes of which; (a) 440 were operating from their respective home campuses (b) 04 were operating in India with their own campuses (c) 60 were operating under programmatic collaboration (d) 54 were operating under twinning programmes and (e) 77 under arrangements other than twinning / programmatic collaboration. The study was based inter alia on advertisements on FEPs released in 18 national and regional newspapers.”
What makes Irani’s reply interesting is that when UGC was asked under RTI whether any institute/educational institutions had approached it for approvals to collaborate with foreign universities, the regulatory body’s response was: “No information is available.”
When the appellate authority, Manju Singh, joint secretary, UGC, was asked by this correspondent to furnish a proper response, she, in a written response, said, “UGC has already furnished a reply pertaining to your questions.” Those of you keen to pursue further studies from a prestigious IIT can apply for the Junior Research Fellowship at IIT Kharagpur being offered by the HRD ministry.
The fellowship is open for MArch/MDes/MTech (civil)/ MPlan degree holders with good academic record. It will be awarded for the duration of four years and will be available for pursuing a research programme at IIT Kharagpur. Fellowship will be awarded in the field of age-friendly built forms and infrastructure.
Two or more applicants will be selected on the basis of their t r ack records. Applicants should apply through email: abrahamiitkgp-at-gmail.com.
The application deadline is October 31, 2015. For further information and application form, visit http://www.facweb. iitkgp.ernet.in/~foc/Design%20 &%20Development.html. If it wasn’t so tragic, the story of how talented students are treated by the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) could have been made into a fullblown comedy film. Winners of Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir (PMSSS), who are given the grant to study in a peaceful environment away from the trouble zone, have been allocated colleges which don’t exist. Other institutes do not offer the programmes they want to study. In one case, a male student was sent to a women’s college. The fact that these students come from financially backward families has made their plight harder to bear as they travel from J-K to far-flung areas; only to rush back to Delhi when they find out about the blunders made by AICTE.
Adil Ahmad Bhat f r o m Srinagar, who was awarded the PMSSS in 2015, was sent to the Institute of Management and Computer Studies in Kusmara town of Mainpuri district in Uttar Pradesh. Once he reached the place, Bhat realised the institute did not exist. “I spent the whole day running from one area to another, asking people for directions to the institute, but the locals informed me that it did not exist,” said Bhat. He had to then go back to Delhi to request that his college be changed.
Anuj Sharma from Kathua district, J-K, had a more painful experience. AICTE sent him to study a bachelor’s in physical education to a college in Solapur, Maharashtra. Once there, Sharma discovered that it was a one-year postgraduate diploma course and not a three-year degree programme which he wanted to study.
“I went from Jammu to Solapur and then from there to Delhi to request AICTE officials to change my college,” says Sharma.
They sent him to Narmada Maha Vidyalaya in Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh – which again did not have the three-year degree course in physical education.
“In Delhi once again, an AICTE official asked me to get a letter from the college saying they do not offer the course. Do they expect me to go back again,” asks Sharma.
Bilal Ahmed, a student from the Valley, was sent to do a bachelor’s in computer application (BCA) from HL Degree College, Hardua Ganj, Aligarh. The college did not have faculty to teach the course as no other student had applied. They were, however, very helpful and asked Ahmed to take private tuitions and come back to write the annual exams.
When contacted by this correspondent, the principal of HL Degree College said, “In the last five to six years, no student has taken admission in BBA and BCA course so there is no faculty in the college to teach these subjects. I wanted to help the student so I told him to get admission in my college but take tuition from outside to prepare for the exams.”
Another student who did not want his name revealed said he was offered a college in Kerala, which turned out to be exclusively for women. “People laughed at me when I reached the college and the security guard did not allow me to enter the gates. When I showed him my admission letter, he laughed at me. I spent 20,000 travelling to and fro the place. Many other students have faced similar issues, says the student.”