Ruling that deemed universities cannot offer engineering degrees through distance learning, the Supreme Court has suspended such degrees granted by four ‘deemed to be universities’ between 2001 and 2005. The bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit also ordered a CBI inquiry into the conduct of officials who granted ex post facto approvals to these institutes in 2006-07, against the policy of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
SC’S ORDER TO UGC
1. The court asked the UGC to take appropriate steps within one month to restrain ‘deemed to be universities’ from using the word university
2. Ordered the Centre to constitute a “three-member committee comprising eminent persons who have held high positions in the field of education, investigation, administration or law at national level within one month” to “suggest a roadmap for strengthening and setting up of oversight and regulatory mechanism in the relevant field of higher education and allied issues within six months.
The court suspended the degrees granted by JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education (Rajasthan), Allahabad Agricultural Institute and Vinayak Mission Research Foundation (Tamil Nadu), from 2001 to 2005, saying they “admitted students, conducted courses and granted degrees in the absence of statutory approvals.”
The bench found that “none of these ‘deemed to be universities’ had taken prior permission from any of the authorities, namely the UGC, AICTE and Distance Education Council (DEC), nor had they even intimated at any juncture the fact that they were conducting such courses in technology/ engineering through distance education mode.”
Those who obtained degrees from these institutes will have to take a joint exam conducted by AICTE and UGC and will get two chances to clear the exam. The bench said the case reflected the “extent of commercialisation of education by some of the deemed universities.”