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

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent Jee­van Prakash Sharma HT Ed­u­ca­tion Cor­re­spon­dent Jee­van Prakash Sharma

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.”

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