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Exposing fake institutions

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 March 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The season for admission to institutes of higher learning is fast approaching. Prospective applicants from Assam and other Northeast states would do well by getting on with some prelimiry enquiries. After declaration of results, they get barely a month-long window to apply for seats in varsities and technical institutes across the country. They and their guardians need to be well informed and hard-nosed to separate the wheat from the chaff. For as in earlier years, the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have recently come out with their updated lists of upproved varsities and technical institutes. There are as many as 23 such universities and 279 technical institutes operating without recognition, mostly contained in eight states. Uttar Pradesh with 9 and Delhi with 7 such institutions top the list, followed by the likes of West Bengal (2), Odisha (2), Maharasthra, Kerala, Kartaka and Bihar. The details are available on UGC and AICTE websites, and they will also be bringing out public notices in leading newspapers cautioning students against taking admission in upproved institutions. The Education department authorities in Assam are also reportedly planning to publish such notices, apart from getting in touch with college principals. A proactive stand from the authorities here is very necessary, else students will end up with worthless degrees after spending good money and years in the effort. It could get worse because when such degree-holders apply for jobs in the government, leading public sector undertakings or private companies, their employers could sue them for misrepresentation.
It is better to be safe than sorry here, but that is easier said than done. The problem is that many students with poor scores and desperate to gain admission, are vulnerable to the clever marketing by such institutions. They are enticed by sales talk of such institutions having tie-ups with companies and offers of internships. Many brave it out with the hope that once they gain a toehold and some early experience in their chosen fields, the lack of a valid professiol degree may not matter much in the long run. But it is still a huge risk. And in matching market demand with trained labour supply, governments across the country are mostly two steps behind — which in turn encourages suspect institutions to lure gullible students. Many a times, such institutions mage to evade the notice of overstretched regulatory bodies, or because they have bribed their way in the right quarters. Which is why students and guardians need to go through advertisements and brochures carefully; cross-check claims on approval, accreditation and faculty; and enquire about availability of bank loans. It is sometimes tricky to distinguish between outright fake institutions and those lacking affiliation with a regulatory body. But once institutions violating educatiol norms are found, students and guardians ought to complain to regulators in public interest. The State Education department should also have a reliable feedback mechanism to move against suspect or fake educatiol institutions. Let us not forget the baneful effect of such institutions on the State’s education scerio, with many school and college teachers acting as willing accomplices. Unlike gullible young students victimised by invalid degrees, these teachers actively seek bogus degrees, mostly PhDs, to hold on to their jobs. They have gotten away with such cheating after bribing Education department officials, but things are a-changing. The State Education minister and present Director of Higher Education have promised to probe and take tough action against fake degree holders in teaching posts. But they also need to be vigilant and expose fake institutions spping up desperate students or handing out bogus degrees to teachers in the State.

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