June 07, 2009

HRD Ministry, TN issue notice to 'Seat for Sale Scam' colleges

Two days after the TOI-Times Now expose on malpractices and misuse of autonomy by medical colleges in Tamil Nadu, the HRD ministry on Thursday issued notice to them asking why their deemed university status should not be withdrawn and action be taken under law.

Tamil Nadu's health department also issued notice to the two deemed universities asking why criminal action be not initiated against them for demanding capitiation fee — in the form of cash — from students seeking admissions for the MBBS course.

itimes: Share your experience on seat-for-sale scam

The HRD ministry and TN government notices were issued to Sri Ramachandra University and Bharath University of which Shree Balaji Medical College is a constituent unit.

Though the website of Bharath University names Union minister of state S Jagathrakshakan as the chancellor, the minister has denied any links to the college.

The HRD notice came after it went through the transcript and tapes of the sting operation. The ministry had written a detailed letter to the UGC asking if these two institutions had followed National Assessment and Accredition Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accredition (NBA) guidelines when the accreditation was given.

HRD ministry sources clarified that in case the deemed university status is withdrawn, the students will not suffer since the college will automatically become part of the university it was affiliated to earlier.

The TN notices, according to state health secretary V K Subburaj, asks the deans of the two institutions to send their replies immediately. "If we don't receive a reply within a week, we would give them a deadline of two or three days more and if they continue to remain silent, we would have to conclude that they have admitted that they are guilty of taking capitation fee," a senior health department official said.

Taking a holistic view of the malaise in the functioning of deemed universities, HRD minister Kapil Sibal used the opportunity to come down heavily on UGC and directed that all pending proposals should be held in abeyance till a thorough review of the functioning of the existing deemed universities is undertaken. UGC has been asked to review and report the deficiencies within three months with respect to academic standards, availability of qualified faculty, admission process and infrastructure.

Sources said Sibal might have to change his decision of letting UGC review the functioning of deemed universities, the reason being that it is the UGC that has in the past five years given such status to 120 private educational institutions. "How can UGC review its own decision," an official said. Many of them are mired in controversy with allegations of high level corruption.

In fact, Sibal's directive came as a shock to UGC which had invited him on Thursday to attend the full commission meeting. As UGC was gearing up to receive the minister — even getting a pashmina shawl for him — Sibal excused himself. In fact, the agenda of UGC meeting had a proposal for granting deemed university status to eight institutions. But in minister's absence UGC did not take up the matter on the ground that HRD ministry has instructed not to grant deemed university status.

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