Clarification sought on validity of distance education degrees

Clarification sought on validity of distance education degrees

Several employers and students have sought clarification from the HRD Ministry on the validity of the degrees in technical education granted by Indira Gandhi National Open University and others in distance education mode since 2001.

The requests for clarification comes in wake of a recent Supreme Court verdict which suspended B tech degrees obtained by students from four deemed-to-be universities through various distance education programmes between 2001-2005.

In its verdict on a bunch of petitions, the apex court noted that the JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Udaipur, Rajasthan; Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Sardarshahr, Rajasthan; Vinayaka Mission's Research Foundation and Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Uttar Pradesh had not taken prior approval from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to offer technical courses.

The court had held that the ex post facto approval granted to these four deemed-to-be-universities for their correspondence courses in engineering by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on the recommendation of the erstwhile Distance Education Council was "incorrect and illegal".

It cancelled all engineering degrees granted by the four deemed-to-be-universities beyond 2005, directing the AICTE to conduct a test for students who obtained their degrees from the four universities between 2001-2005.

"The HRD ministry has received request from several employers and the students groups for clarification on the apex court's verdict," official sources said.

While the employers have requested for a clarification on the validity of the engineering degrees obtained by their employees through distance education programmes of Ingnou and other institutions, students have sought clarification on the impact of the Supreme Court verdict on their engineering degrees that they obtained through open and distance education.

"The employers who have sought clarification includes some government organisations from various states,"  sources said.

A top HRD ministry official said the department concerned was going through the apex court's judgement to understand its larger implication.

"There are suggestions to seek the opinion of the Attorney General on the issue, besides seeking details from the UGC and other regulatory bodies. A final decision, however, is yet to be taken by the ministry in this regard," another official said.

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