‘Carefree’ attitude of Universities leave lakhs of students in knots, admissions on hold awaiting UGC nod

With the University Grants Commission (UGC) not allowing even Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) or B R Ambedkar Open University (Braou) to offer courses in distance education mode for the academic year 2015-16, thousands of students across India face an uncertain future. The main reason for this mess is said to be apathy on the part of the university authorities who failed to file an affidavit within the stipulated time.

According to a list released by the distance education bureau (DEB) of UGC, only 18 universities in the country have been recognized for this academic year when compared to 212 in 2014-15.

Except Visakhapatnam-based Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management (GITAM) and Tirupati-based Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, none of the universities from the Andhra Pradesh state can offer courses in open and distance learning (ODL) for this academic year. An estimated 60,000-80,000 students from the state pursue education in the distance mode in various universities. However, no university, including the top-rung Andhra University, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Ignou, Braou and SV University, were able to retain their recognition.

Every year, the universities are required to submit affidavits and other documents to continue having recognition from UGC. This has been the practice from 2013-14 after constitution of DEB. DEB was earlier called distance education council, but merged with UGC in December 2012.

DEB confers recognition to courses offered by various universities. However, the updated list seen on UGC website from July 22 makes it clear that none of these varsities has recognition now. Nevertheless, many universities are continuing to admit students. “Just because the required documents were not filed in time, the future of thousands of students has been put in jeopardy,” rued a senior official from a reputed open university. While UGC will be revising the list of universities once they submit the affidavits, most of the managements are yet to do so even though the academic year has begun. This brings to fore the apathy of the managements.

“DEB will definitely have a rethink after the documents are submitted but students do not know if the universities would be allowed to offer a certain course. The university managements seem to be very negligent. It is better to check the status before taking admission,” another official said.

UGC has even notified that enrolment of students without recognition is gross violation of the norms and advised students and parents to exercise caution. “Some universities and institutions are issuing misleading advertisements by stating that their programmes are recognised by UGC. Students, parents and public are informed that the list of the recognized institutions (along with course) is posted on UGC’s website for reference,” the notice added.

“UGC not for winding up distance education”

“UGC is only trying to fix jurisdiction limits for universities which rendered distance education to make the programme more effective”

The University Grants Commission (UGC), the only grant-giving agency in the country for coordinating and promoting university education, would henceforth focus on excellence and quality in education, said its vice-chairman H. Devaraj.

Talking to reporters after inaugurating a conference on women and social transformation at Alagappa University here on Friday, he said that in the first 60 years, the UGC had concentrated on providing equality under social justice concept and in the next 15 years, “we will focus on excellence and quality.”

Towards achieving the goal, the UGC had launched faculty recharging programme to recruit 1,000 faculty members of excellence in the next two years for various universities in the country.

The UGC had already recruited and appointed more than 180 such faculty members, he said.

Refuting reports that the UGC was trying to wind up distance education system, he said that it was only trying to fix jurisdiction limits for universities which rendered distance education to make the programme more effective.

On its part, it had already launched MOOCS (Massive Open Online Course), an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access, he said. Soon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch UGC‘s “e-padasala,” another online programme. The syllabus had been made ready for the programme, he added.

Asked about reports that the Human Resource Development (HRD) proposed to scrap the UGC, Mr. Devaraj said, “like you, I too read such reports in the newspaper, but it is not that easy.

UGC is a statutory body, established by an Act of Parliament and it required two-thirds majority in the Parliament to disband the body.”

The Hari Gautam committee, constituted to suggest reform measures had presented its report to the HRD Ministry and the reforms would take place based on its recommendations, he said.

Source: The Times Of India & The Hindu

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