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BITS Pilani Row: HRD Seeks Legal Opinion on Off-campus Degrees Validation
After closely observing the situation, the HRD Ministry now seeks legal opinion on whether the degrees, certificates and diplomas awarded by the off-campus centres of BITS Pilani in Hyderabad and Goa should be validated by the Rajasthan government or not.
In July 2016, the Additional Chief Secretory of Rajasthan, Raj Hans Upadhyay had asked for clarification on the issue from V S Oberoi, Central Higher Education Secretary. In response, the ministry said that the two off-campus centres have not been approved by the UGC, further adding that the attestation could be unfitting.
Concerned about the integrity of the institute, Rajasthan Government wrote to the Centre asking for a categorical response, which in-turn provoked the HRD ministry to write to the law ministry. Unsure of the outcome, the state government had to put the attestation of off-campus degrees of BITS Pilani on hold.
BITS Pilani has been struggling with UGC regarding the latter’s notice stating that the off-campus centres must be closed as they were started without the permission of UGC. UGC also said that the university has violated the Deemed University Regulations.
However, the institute states that campuses in Goa and Hyderabad centres were established before the Deemed University Regulations were laid down, which are prospective in nature. BITS challenged the allegations of UGC in court and said that UGC does not have the legal authority to issue such a notice to the institute.
The off-campus establishment of Goa was started in 2004 and that in Hyderabad was started in 2008. More than 600 students are currently enrolled in various undergraduate programmes offered by the two off-campus centres of BITS.
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