Need an honorary doctorate? Just spend anywhere between ₹25,000 and ₹3 lakh, and get the certificate delivered at your doorstep.
Close to half a dozen “universities,” which claim to be located in other States and abroad, are found to be selling fake Doctor of Letters (DLitt) certificates in Kerala. The recipients reportedly include senior officials in the Education Department, school teachers, and those who fancy the ‘Dr.’ tag to their name and do not mind spending a few bucks for the purpose.
P. Suresh, a teacher at Government Higher Secondary School, Kunduparamba, Kozhikode, told The Hindu that these fictitious universities send letters to schools, colleges, and offices of the District Institutes of Education and Training to lure prospective clients.
Mr. Suresh is a member of a group of teachers and researchers who are planning to petition the Chief Minister and the University Grants Commission (UGC) to curb the practice.
“Those who pay the money are asked to show up for a convocation ceremony to be held at star hotels in Chennai, Bengaluru, or Kathmandu. The event will be attended by well-known personalities and its details will appear in newspapers the next day. If you cannot make it to the event, the certificate will be delivered home,” he said.
Indian Virtual University; Universal Tamil University, Chennai; Kings University, U.S.A.; International Peace University, Germany; International Tamil University; and University Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal, are some of the “institutions” engaged in the trade, Mr. Suresh said.
Universal Tamil University and Kings University have the same person as Vice Chancellor. “Most of them have websites, with fabricated images of buildings and other facilities,” he said. Some of them were also found to have engaged agencies.
“The University of Asia’s certificates are distributed through the Bengaluru-based Dr. Radhakrishnan Research and Development Centre,” Mr. Suresh said.
Government not aware
However, the Education Department does not seem to be aware of this practice. When a question about such fake universities was raised in the Assembly by Shafi Parambil, MLA, some time ago, the Education Minister reportedly said he was unaware of it. The Students Federation of India (SFI) has urged the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development to set up a high-level committee to inquire into the practice of fake higher education degrees such as DLitt and PhD from unrecognised and non-existent universities. The All-Kerala Research Scholars Association too is seeking action against it.
“In its 50-year history, the University of Calicut has given honorary doctorates to only around 15 persons, including eminent writers such as Vaikom Mohammed Basheer and M.T. Vasudevan Nair and sportspersons such as P.T. Usha. What value will a doctorate degree have if anyone can get it for a price?” he wondered.