The scourge of scams and frauds in Karnataka, a state that prides itself for being an educational hub in the country, continues to prey upon thousands of unaware students and parents, year on year, from within and outside the state.
Unfortunately for most, any inkling of something being amiss is detected too late even though alerts and public notices from government agencies like University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), and state-run agencies attempt to prevent such incidents.
In most cases, students and parents realise only during the final examinations or when their degrees are rejected during verification purpose from companies during placements.
“I completed my postgraduate course from Karnataka State Open University in the year 2013-14, but I am unable to get any jobs as my degree is not recognised by the government or by the UGC. Thousands of candidates like me are suffering today as the university granted admissions to us even though it was not recognised by the UGC,” said Jayanth Kumar (name changed), a 2014 batch candidate.
The problem, however, is not just confined to the college level as it is a common scene every year during Class 10 Board examinations for students being denied permission to appear for examinations as the schools they got enrolled in are not recognised by the government.
Such culprits put the future of students in jeopardy to fill their pockets despite knowing about the status of their recognition.
“I got admission in a private medical college located in Kolar in Karnataka. It was a management quota seat and I paid lakhs of rupees as fees. After a few months, I got to know that the institute has been disaffiliated and was not supposed to do admissions for the 2019-20 academic year,” says Sangeeta (name changed), a victim.
Future at stake
Over 100 students got admissions at this particular private medical college for this academic year. However, the college was disaffiliated by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences and banned from admitting students.
As disaffected students approached officials at the department of medical education, the government woke up to the seriousness of the situation.
Deputy Chief Minister Dr C N Ashwath Narayan recently held a meeting with the department and university officials and directed them to take measures to relocate the affected students to other colleges.
“We need to take measures in the interest of 112 students and are looking to see where we can accommodate them,” he said while ordering action against the officials who were responsible for this as well as the college management.
Besides medical colleges, a recent report published by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development declared that as many as 23 engineering colleges in
Karnataka were not recognised by the AICTE.
“Following the directions of AICTE, we had issued notices to all 23 colleges and also issued warning to the public to not get admission in such colleges. But, despite warnings, students and parents fall for such institutions,” explained Prof H U Talwar, director, department of technical education.
In yet another related case, the state government in 2016-17 revealed that several private engineering colleges did not get approval for the admissions they made since 2003.
The then higher education minister Basavaraja Rayareddi declined to grant retrospective approval even though many had written to the government about it.
But when this issue cropped up again this year with even more institutions coming under the scanner, his decision was reversed by the previous higher education minister G T Devegowda, who had discussed with department officials and asked them to take necessary measures in the interest of students. While a committee has been constituted, the report is yet to be released.
Meanwhile, experts feel that the onus in these situations lies with the government and it should provide relief to the affected students, besides ensuring stringent monitoring of derecognised and disaffiliated institutes.
“If the admissions made at the colleges were not approved by the government, then such admissions are called illegal and also degrees delivered to these students since 2003 will be considered fake. It clearly shows there is some glaring mistake at the level of university, government or the authority concerned,” said Dr Balaveera Reddy, former vice-chancellor of Visvesvaraya Technological University.
Dr Mallikarjun Babu, former principal of BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru, said, “Due to the lack of regulatory and monitoring measures, such incidents recur every academic year at all the levels, from primary to higher education. The government should act more stringently as the responsibility does not end with just disaffiliating the institute. Monitoring after the disaffiliation process matters more. Government agencies must track and penalise them heavily if they continue to admit students.”