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Acting under the directions of the Human Resource and Development Ministry of the Government of India, the University Grants Commission (UGC) released a notification titled “Notification on Refund of Fees and Non-Retention of Original Certificates” in October 2018. In this notification, UGC addressed two of the biggest issues that students taking admission into technical as well as non-technical higher educational institutions (HEIs) in India used to face —
colleges not refunding admission fees even when informed of the withdrawal of candidacy in due time
colleges claiming a candidate’s original documents for storage at the time of admission.
Multiple complaints made by candidates against such unfair practices by some private colleges prompted the HRD ministry to come out with very clear guidelines, that every college, university or deemed university in India has been ordered to follow.
Information about this notification was initially shared by Hon. Union HRD Minister Mr Prakash Javadekar in a press conference held in New Delhi on 10th October 2018.
Fee Refund Guidelines
It is apparent from reading the notification that UGC has maintained a strict stance in favour of students. It has directed institutions to make sure that their own fee refund rules are aligned with the policies specified in the notification, which are as follows:
|Amount of Fee Refunded||Time of Cancelling of Application|
|100% Refund (with a maximum of 5% up to Rs. 5,000 deducted as processing fee)||15 days or more before the last date of admission|
|90% refund||Less than 15 days before the last date of admission|
|80% refund||15 days or less after the last date of admission|
|50% refund||More than 15 days but 30 days or less after the last date of admission|
|No refund||More than 30 days after the last date of admission|
Any type of security deposit or caution money, charged separately from the admission fees, shall be fully repaid to the student. Also, the institutions have been directed to take no more than 15 days from the date of reception of an application to refund the admission fee in all eligible cases.
In the same notification, UGC has also answered the question of whether a college can keep a student’s original documents or not. Here are the guidelines that HEIs need to follow while handling a candidate’s documents:
Colleges cannot ask for a student’s original certificates along with the application form. At this point, however, UGC has made it mandatory to ask for self-attested photocopies of the documents.
Once a candidate has secured admission, colleges may ask a candidate to produce all original copies of the required documents for verification of authenticity. The commission has, however, made it explicitly clear that the verification will be done in the presence of the candidate and the documents will be returned to the candidate immediately. Attested photocopies shall be kept for the college’s own records.
The same procedure is expected to be followed if the need for verification arises at any point during the student’s tenure at the college.
If any doubt arises over the authenticity of the documents, colleges can raise it with the board or university that has issued the document and grant admission only after proper authentication has been received.
It has been made very clear multiple times by the commission that HEIs are not entitled to remove the original documents from the presence of a candidate even for the shortest duration, let alone ask the student to keep the original documents in their custody. Such measures have been taken to curb the practice of colleges blackmailing a student in case he/she decides to withdraw his/her application in the future.
Other Salient Features
UGC has also targeted the colleges for certain other unfair practices. It has prohibited colleges from:
Making it mandatory to purchase the college prospectus.
Adding to this point, UGC has directed colleges to make certain information available on its website including its accreditation, affiliation, physical assets and amenities, course-wise seat availability, programme-wise fee details, last date of admission, faculty details etc.
Asking for fees more than that of the semester or year in which a student is enrolling.
UGC has entitled itself to take strict punitive action against an HEI that fails to follow the aforementioned guidelines regarding the refund or handling the original certificates. The action may include:
Cancelling any future grant(s)
Withdrawing any present grant(s)
Issuing a public notice of non-compliance
Recommending the concerned university to cancel the institution’s affiliation
Removal of deemed university status etc.
At a time when reports of seats lying vacant in higher educational institutions are regularly surfacing, such a move from UGC is a welcome one. It will help boost transparency in the admission process, empowering the student, who often used to be left feeling helpless having to choose between building a career and fighting a court case to get justice. Moreover, it rejects the idea of profiteering in education and upholds the moral ground that a student’s skill, not pocket, should be the determining factor in his/her standard of education and career goals.