Until now, it was the responsibility of the Central government and its agencies to ensure the shutdown or accreditation of these institutes, which have proliferated across the country. However, apart from battling Covid, many State governments are in election mode, with Assembly Polls due in 2021, and regulating blacklisted institutes may not be a key priority
State governments will now be nudged to take action against blacklisted institutes. Sources told Moneycontrol that a fresh list of institutes operating across States without requisite permission from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will be prepared.
“The first step is to identify the fake institutes, which do not have any legal standing to offer an educational programme. Students passing out of these institutes have no future so it is the responsibility of the State governments to take prompt action,” said an official.Responsibility passed on to States
Earlier, it was understood that the Central government and its agencies would be involved in ensuring the shutdown/due accreditation of the institutes. But now, the responsibility has been passed on to State governments and their enforcement agencies.
Sources said that since multiple parties are involved in this process, including local education entities, institute promoters and students from the particular State, it was decided that the State governments would be in a better position to manage the situation.
But considering that several State governments, including those in Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal, are going into election mode with legislative assembly polls in 2021, looking into blacklisted institutes may not be the first priority.
A consultant working with the government in Tamil Nadu said that the first step would be to look at the promoters of each institute, their financial history and then the nature of the academic programme.
“We need to look at whether there is political will considering that the government is already busy with fighting the Coronavirus and then will get caught up in the political candidate nomination from January onwards,” he added.
A delay in this process would mean that students are left in the lurch. Industry estimates suggest that 20,000-25,000 students could be admitted in the unaccredited institutes.
Under the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, UGC and AICTE are set to be merged into a single entity. Thereafter, a fresh list comprising of unaccredited institutes falling under both these regulatory bodies will be prepared. There will be a Higher Education Grants Council that will be responsible for issuing permission to start new institutes.
The UGC regulates universities and their degree programmes while AICTE regulates the diploma programmes of technical institutes, including management schools, hospitality, architecture and engineering institutes.Plethora of unauthorised institutes
In the current list, a total of 69 institutions are running technical programmes with foreign collaborations and without AICTE approval. Additionally, there are 264 institutes across the engineering, management, fashion design and hotel management fields offering courses without AICTE approval.
Over and above them are close to 30 universities that do not have approvals to run courses or offer degrees.
Government sources said that of the unaccredited institutes, about 15 percent have the backing of local political outfits. Considering that assembly elections for several States are scheduled for 2021, letting allied institutes function may also raise questions about the State governments’ seriousness in dealing with this matter.
Under the mandate, State governments have to ensure that these institutes either shut down educational activities or immediately apply for accreditation with the UGC and AICTE before enrolling students.
“The State governments will have to ensure that the students currently enrolled are given adequate time to enrol into valid educational institutes. Since education is on the concurrent list, it is the duty of the State governments to take action on this matter,” another education department official added.
Despite blacklists released by bodies such as AICTE, students enrol in such institutes in large numbers, either unaware of the situation or because of misrepresentation of facts by the institutes.
Students who pursue education through such institutions technically do not have a valid degree, even if they complete the programme. Corporates do not hire from unaccredited institutes.Dodgy tie-ups
At least 20 percent of the unapproved institutes also have ‘tie-ups’ with international universities to offer dual degrees. This is usually a ploy to attract students. In reality, either the partnerships are non-existent, or the global institutes themselves are fake.Students who have enrolled into such ‘fake’ institutes are the worst off. Even if they are in their final year of the education programme, their academic qualifications/credits of the previous years will not be recognised. These students will have to enrol into a valid institute afresh from the first year.