Many students who have enrolled with private institutes for degree programmes through distance education are risking their precious time and money because their degree courses are either unapproved or offered by unrecognised universities. Who is to blame for this?
# Since the launch of open and distance learning (ODL) in India in 1962 by Delhi University and till 2007, no state university/institution was allowed in specific terms to offer degree courses beyond state boundary by either University Grants Commission or Distance Education Council. UGC regulated ODL till 1991, then DEC was made the regulator before UGC was back again
# In March 2007, the DEC ruled that jurisdiction for distance learning programmes would be as per the acts and statutes of the universities concerned. Many private and state universities, irrespective of what their act was, granted affiliation to institutes outside their states and started offering degree courses.
# In November 2012, DEC, realising that education standards were falling, reversed its decision and said, “In case of state universities (government funded and private) the territorial jurisdiction will be as per their acts and statues but not beyond the boundary of their states.” It means even if the act of a university allows courses beyond state boundaries, the institute can’t make such offerings.
# Students who have done degree courses from 2007 to 2012 through distance education are in trouble as their degree certificates are being scanned by other universities (for higher education) and many state and central government departments (for jobs)
# The main reason for the mess is DEC’s failure to rein in many universities which ignored its directive. For instance, while DEC allowed universities to offer courses beyond state boundaries through their own centres, many universities directly (not through centres)worked out franchise arrangements with other institutes.
# On May 16, 2013, the MHRD, by an administrative order, dissolved the DEC, saying “As per this Ministry’s order dated December 29, 2012, issued to UGC and AICTE, the role of DEC and its responsibilities will be performed by UGC and AICTE as envisaged in their respective Acts.”
# On June 27, 2013, UGC in a public notice said, “A university established or incorporated by or under a state act shall operate only within the territorial jurisdiction allotted to it under its act and not beyond the territory of the state of its location.”
# Despite the UGC notice, violations continue as many state and private universities are offering unapproved degree courses beyond the boundary of their own state. UGC has failed to stop them.