UGC lists 23 ‘bogus’ Indian universities, state govts taken a back over their existence

Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of unapproved universities, will be asked to expedite action

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New Delhi, March 22, 2017: The Indian higher education regulator has listed 23 ‘bogus’ universities. They are not approved to grant degrees or diplomas. But, most state governments contemplated why these names were on the list since the institutes either don’t exist or have shut down.

Numerous institutes come up without meeting the requirements and offer degrees. That results to cheating, the UGC stated, asking the state governments to initiate action.

But the fake list has surged a controversy. Bihar’s higher education council (SHEC) vice chairman Kameshwar Jha accused the UGC of tarnishing the state’s image by putting on the list Maithili University or Vishwavidyalaya, Darbhanga.

He stated that from two decades, no such university prevailed in the state, and including the name of a non-existent institution on the list is correspondent of maligning the state.

“When the institution was declared illegal over two decades ago, I don’t see any point in mentioning it on the fake list year after year. It only earns Bihar a bad name,” he said.

Bihar is already struggling to redeem its image post incidents of mass cheating, especially after it got engulfed last year in a massive exam fraud that was exposed when its class 12 toppers failed to answer rudimentary questions during a media interaction.

Officials in Uttar Pradesh, another state notoriously known for high instances of education frauds, have stated that six universities were on the fake list that don’t exist but were offering degrees. They admitted that no in-depth investigation was done on the UGC alert.

The only fraudulent university in Maharashtra — Raja Arabic University in Nagpur — is a residential madarsa or Islamic seminary.

“We run a residential madarsa with 240 students,” said Maulana Mehmood Rizvi Khan, who heads the institute. He had apologised to the UGC for ‘claiming’ the seminary as a university.

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Similarly, St John University in Kerala has been functioning for the past 15 years in Kishannattamk, a place that does not exist.

“We have no idea about this. And nobody has registered any compliant,” said an education ministry official. The UGC had sent reminders about this university.

Of the two bogus institutes on alternative medicine in West Bengal, one is running with a different name and the other is functioning.

The Indian Institute of Alternative Medicine has apparently altered into the Indian Board for Alternative Medicine after its name was mentioned on the UGC’s 2009 list. The state government has not taken any action for its closure.

“We received a notice from the UGC last year, but before we could reply our name was on the list,” stated Jayanto Bhattarcharji, founder of the Institute of Alternate Medicine and Research, which is on the list.

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The institute was affiliated to the Kolkata-based Alternative Medical Council, he stated.

The Union human resource development ministry aims to send reminders to all states to submit a report on actions taken against bogus universities and technical institutions.

Mahendra Nath Pandey, junior HRD minister, said: “We have been sending letters to the states as fake institutes are jeopardizing the careers of innocent students.”

Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of unapproved universities, will be asked to expedite action.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse