The registered campus of a distance education institute in J.P. Nagar, resembling a posh bungalow, was deserted when Medical Education Minister S.A. Ramdas turned up there on Tuesday morning for a surprise inspection. At its administrative office situated close by, the Minister's team was greeted with telltale signs of a hasty escape.
In fact, those in the office left in such a hurry that food being prepared was steaming over a gas burner.
Mr. Ramdas and his department officials landed at the offices of YGEN Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd., which offers a diploma in paramedical courses through distance education, recognised by the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU).
The inspection signalled an open confrontation between the Minister and the KSOU. While Mr. Ramdas accused the university of violating norms and of “illegal activities”, KSOU Vice-Chancellor K.S. Rangappa termed the allegations a fallout of “something personal”.
Addressing the media, Mr. Ramdas said KSOU had signed a total of 95 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with institutions across the country in 2010 offering 422 distance education courses, including 34 that fall under the purview of the Medical Education Department.
The courses came into effect around four months ago, and the Minister estimated around one lakh students had already enrolled.
“Though the institutes advertise as being recognised by the Distance Education Council, New Delhi, the truth is that the courses have not been given accreditation. The 34 courses coming under our department are not recognised by the Medical Council of India, Nursing Council of India, Ayurveda Council, or the Paramedical Board. In effect, the students are getting cheated,” said Mr. Ramdas. Apart from YGEN, he said Bangalore Education Resources (BER) in Sadashivnagar here, another entity that has entered into an MoU, was also not operational.
Talking to The Hindu, KSOU Vice-Chancellor Rangappa denied the MoUs violated laws.
“I have worked under the ambit of the KSOU Act 1992, and have even consulted the Solicitor General of India about the legality of the MoUs.”
Claiming that MoUs have been signed since the formation of the university, and has only been emphasised now under his vice-chancellorship, Mr. Rangappa said: “I am answerable only to the Higher Education Department and the Governor, and definitely not to the Medical Education Department. Perhaps he [Mr. Ramdas] has something against me.”