Yogendra Kalavalapalli

HYDERABAD: Demanding their institute to come clean on the status of their degrees, about 105 exasperated students of Institute of Clinical Research India (ICRI) here in Begumpet have been at loggerheads with the management over the last few days.

It was the lure of a “recession-proof” career and a six-figure salary that enticed them to join the portals of a relatively unknown institute. Promises were made and assurances given: the course would be UGC-approved, industry-recognised, practical training imparted and best of laboratory infrastructure provided, but they remained mere words and nothing else, students say.

High fee

Unsettled by the recession staring in their faces and not wanting to take any chances with their careers, they shelled out hefty amounts (Rs.3.1 to 3.7 lakh) to enrol at ICRI. The recent UGC decision to derecognise some deemed universities unnerved many as their courses, MBA in Health Care Management and M.Sc. in Clinical Research Management were being conducted in collaboration with Thanjavur-based ‘PRIST University’. PRIST was among the 44 deemed universities identified for de-recognition by the Centre.

“From documents we gathered over the last few days, as a deemed university less than five-years-old PRIST cannot run any study centres/off-shore campuses. This was even explicitly stated by PRIST to UGC,” a student explained.

When apprehensions were expressed to PRIST authorities, the anxious students were told that theirs were ‘collaborative programmes’ and do not come under distance education stream. “But there is no ‘Collaborative Programmes’ department in the university website and Prof. R. Panneer who addressed us was director of Distance Education council,” it was pointed out. “Where does that leave us? We did not enrol for distance education programmes paying heavy fee,” the students said. With neither ICRI nor PRIST, clarifying their status the 105 confused students were in a fix. “Recently ICRI returned all our certificates submitted at the time of admission,” said a concerned parent D.V.S. Chandrasekhar who felt the action meant the institute might shut shop soon. Meanwhile, alumni of ICRI have also lent support to their juniors. “None of my 58 batch mates was employed after the course. There was no practical training, internships or project work. We are duped. The fee they charge does not reflect the education provided,” said Dr. Goutham who passed out last year. “Some of my classmates are paying EMI as high as Rs.12,000 without any job.”

When approached for their comments, ICRI management were unwilling to talk.