SC bans deemed varsities from offering engg courses in distance mode

SC bans deemed varsities from offering engg courses in distance mode

Supreme Court on Friday ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed a group of deemed universities to offer engineering courses in distance education, as it took a critical view of such institutions.

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and UU Lalit also raised serious questions over the institutions being allowed to use the word 'university' and asked the government to restrain them from use of the word.

In a series of orders, the bench banned deemed universities from offering engineering courses through distance education from 2018-19 academic year, instructing them not to do so without the sanction of AICTE.

Lamenting that extensive commercialization has robbed higher education of credibility and standard; the bench said it seriously compromised knowledge and impacted excellence and merit. It also asked government to set up a three-member panel to develop roadmap to strengthen higher education and come up with a regulatory system in six months.

"The UGC had completely failed to remedy the situation," the bench said in its 118-page judgement highlighting failure of monitoring and regulating 'deemed-to-be-universities.'

"Serious question has therefore arisen as to the manning of the UGC itself for its effective working," it noted.

 

IT ordered CBI probe on officials who allowed Vinayaka Mission's research Foundation, Salem, Tamil Nadu, IASE Gandhi Vidya Mandir, Sardarshahr Rajasthan, JRN Vidyapeeth Udaipur, Rajasthan and Allahabad Agriculture Research Institute, Allahabad to offer B Tech and B E courses in distance education mode.

It also ordered the UGC to consider if the 'deemed university' status enjoyed by the institutions could be withdrawn as they violated policies and norms.

Citing the affidavit of the then UGC Chairman Ved Prakash detailing how the institutes were allowed to offer courses, the bench raised serious doubt over the approach and conduct of the higher education regulator.

"On one hand, the authorities were proclaiming their policy statements and on the other, despite there being complaints, they went about granting permissions," it noted.

The issue came up before the apex court following conflicting orders by Orissa and Punjab and Haryana High Courts.

 

While the Orissa HC had approved engineering degrees awarded to serving diploma holders through 'Off-Campus Study Centres', Punjab and Haryana HC took a contrary view.

The court ordered to suspend degrees awarded to students by the four institutions in the 2001-05 academic session. It asked AICTE to hold a test in May 2018-19 and recall degrees given to students who fail.

Asking the varsities to refund fees collected on the course if the students do not wish to appear for the AICTE test, the court also ordered to withdraw any jobs or benefits taken by the students on the basis of those degrees.

It ordered to cancel degrees awarded after the academic session 2001-05 and withdraw any jobs given on that basis.

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