In a break with tradition, Madras University will award degree certificates which will be signed by a non-academic. The degrees will be awarded on the occasion of convocation ceremony on December 1, 2016.
According to Chapter XX of University Statute, it is indicated that only a vice-chancellor has the authority to sign the degrees. However, in his absence, a person nominated by the syndicate can do so.
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The state advocate general was of the opinion that since the university does not have a vice-chancellor, one of the three members of the VC convenor committee can sign the degree certificates. A. Karthik, Secretary of Higher Education and one of the members of convenor committee is likely to sign the certificates. However, a section of the university academia is unprecedented and against the rules.
One of the syndicate members expressed that if any other member except the one from syndicate signs the degree certificates, the candidates might face issues in future especially while applying for foreign universities which follow stringent rules in authentication of documents.
On November 5, 2016, the Senate had raised questions about the working of convenor committee. The Senate pointed out that the convenor committee did not hold even a single meeting since it was formed. The convenor committee could only perform administrative matters and should not discharge the duties performed by Vice-Chancellor.
A seven-point dissent not was submitted by the eight-member committee to the Registrar on November 4, 2016, stating that the convenor committee could only perform administrative activities and the convocation can be stalled until the new Vice-Chancellor is appointed. The note also mentioned that this had happened numerous times and that is why students are being issued Provisional Degree Certificates to overcome hardship. A section of Syndicate expressed that the note was not recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
S.P. Thyagarajan, former VC of Madras University explained that a non-academic could be allowed to sign the degree certificates under certain unavoidable circumstances.