In a strict order, the HRD ministry has asked University Grants Commission (UGC) to file FIR against the management of universities offering distance education courses to students outside their territorial jurisdiction.
It has come to be known that the ministry had dispatched the order in the first week of November 2016. Before that, the ministry had written to UGC five letters urging to initiate stern action against erring institutions. But those letters were never headed.
Now the ministry has resorted to its extraordinary powers under Section 20 of the UGC Act. The act enables the higher education regulator to file FIRs against deans, vice-chancellors, and registrars of the universities in order to safeguard the interests of the thousands of gullible students. These students have been cheated by such universities and institutions. The nodal education body had been asked to submit an action plan by 15th November.
As per the rules, all state universities both private and government-funded can offer distance education programmes only within the jurisdiction of the state they are located in. But if an institution does not follow the rules then the degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded to students outside the state become invalid.
Several universities that would be badly affected by the recent order are -
- Sikkim Manipal University
- Karnataka State Open University
- Periyar University, Salem
- Global Open University, Nagaland
As per the HRD Ministry officials, these universities have been violating UGC rules on territorial jurisdiction. V S Oberoi, Higher Education Secretary had written to UGC chairman Prakash earlier this year. He had identified the above institutions as regular violators and urged the UGC to take action against them.