Varsity to reject 6,289 scholars

Dravidian University has been awarding PhD and MPhil degrees against UGC norms

In a shocking development, a 10-year old Dravidian University announced that it would scrap the names of all the 6,289 research scholars whose names have been registered for M.Phil and PhD courses under the distance education programs.

The Andhra Pradesh government had been mulling on the cancellation of nearly 8,029 PhD certificates awarded during 2007-08 and 2008-09 in view of the irregularities, however, legal complications had kept the move in abeyance, temporarily. The decision to scrap the names of those students who had enrolled after June 1, 2009 was taken after a meeting of the executive council of the university held on January 7, in Hyderabad, However, the decision on 1,685 scholars who earlier moved the court is kept pending until further orders. The university also decided to refund the fees, including late fee collected from these research scholars .

Located in the sylvan surroundings of Kuppam in Chittoor district, the university had come under the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) scanner for enrolling students for M.Phil and PhD programs. In 2010, this educational institution made headlines for admitting over 8,000 students into its MPhil and PhD programs under distance mode allegedly without the approval of the UGC and the National Council of Distance Education.

Following complaints, a two-member committee was appointed by the government to investigate into the irregularities of the university in December 2010. Based on the committee report, the government decided to cancel the admissions which were made on the basis of applications received after June 6, 2009. Following this, 1,685 scholars approached the court and received stay orders. “A decision on these scholars has been kept pending subject to court orders,” university registrar in-charge C Varadarajulu Naidu told newsmen at the university in Kuppam.

Apart from offering PhD in distance education mode which are against the norms set up by the UGC and the All India Council of Technical Education, the university also allows private institutions to run study centers to offer MPhil and PhD programs. The former vice chancellor of the university Prof C Ramanaiah describes the move as a “resource raising drive since the UGC had stopped funding universities”.

The norms laid out by the State Higher Education Council in 2008 making MPhil and PhD as mandatory and pre-requisite for the appointment of professors and principals in colleges, have led to a huge demand from students to obtain these qualifications.

According to the former chairman of the council, Prof KC Reddy, in 2011. Nearly 2,000 candidates with M Phil degree and 11,000 doctorates were required to fill the faculties of junior and degree colleges.

The government had received specific complaints against the university, that depending on the subject and its demand, the study centers were charging exorbitant rates ranging between Rs 50,000 to Rs1 lakh for each of the PhD programs. The government has also decided to initiate an inquiry against Prof Ramanaiah for the irregularities. “The committee has also recommended abolition of all the 8,029 PhD degrees awarded during 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years,” said Damodara Rajanarasimha, minister for higher and technical education.

The university’s decision which came as a shock to over 6,000 students are now worried about their career; many of them are on the verge of submitting their thesis papers to the university. Meanwhile, the executive council also decided to cancel the appointment of the university’s nine senior officials including director of publications, deputy director of publications on account of illegal appointments by Prof Ramanaiah.

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