The University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex higher education regulatory body in the country has recently published a list of 21 fake universities in India. There are eight in UP, six in Delhi and one each in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal.
The pity is that the list is a repeat of the last year. And it has been the case for the last four years. Each year it appears UGC dusts the last year file, changes the date and publishes a list of fake universities.
Click here to Download the list of Fake Universities as published by UGC since 2012
In fact, comments from our readers show that some of these universities have been operating with impunity from the 1980s onwards. This is the complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the authorities.
What can the UGC Do?
- It can go after the university authorities under Sec 420 of the Indian Criminal act.
- It can force the State Govt. to shut premises in which these institutions operate. Publicize those state governments that do not act.
- It can identify the founders of these universities and file police complaints against them.
- But the lethargy and indifference in UGC is so complete that all it does is republish the same list as a ritual. The list would be a tamasha, but for the fact that it is tragic.
Who is a Fake University?
As per the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, only a university established by the Central/State/Provincial Act or an institution deemed to be university under Section 3 of the Act is allowed to call themselves as university. Therefore, any institution that does not comply with the above rule is prohibited from using the term ‘university’ under Section 23 of the Act.
What do the authorities say?
Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Smriti Irani informed the Rajya Sabha that following was the actions taken by UGC against these Fake Universities
(i) For the awareness of general public/students/parents, the UGC puts up the list of fake institutions on its website- It does. But the pity is that the list is repetitive for ages with nary an addition or deletion.
(ii) Cases have also been filed in various courts by UGC against fake universities/institutions.-Nothing seems to be happening since the fake institutions continue to exist even in the list that too continuously for years.
Prof Sukhadeo Thorat, former Chairman UGC says, “ The UGC can take action at its own level and that action can be that they can report to the state police by filing an FIR and it has happened earlier also and they can be punished.”
Amendment is the way out?
Is the UGC Act 1956 sufficient to empower UGC to take appropriate action against these Fake Universities or is there a need to make some changes in the Act to give more power to the regulatory regime. Prof S S Mantha, former Chairman All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is of the view that the as per the UGC Act, it can only levy a fine of maximum, Rs. 1000, the act was enacted in 1956. He said, “Now if we look the value of fine it would be in crores, so some amendments are required in the UGC Act.”
But until those express provisions come into being, UGC can easily use the existing provisions of Indian Penal Code to go after the violators.
The most alarming issue is that while the regulators sleep, and state governments refuse to act, thousands of students enroll into these universities and spend their hard earned money to earn a degree which is not worth the paper it is printed?
It is high time for the UGC, MHRD and state governments to tighten the noose and weed out these players.