The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a list of 23 fake universities which are “self-styled, unrecognised institutions functioning in contravention of the UGC Act”, warning students not to be taken in by their claims. Most of these institutions have been on the UGC’s watchlist for well over a decade, despite the regulator’s annual claim that its Anti-Malpractice Cell (AMPC) has been taking appropriate legal action against them.
Out of the 23 institutions in Tuesday’s public notice, as many as 14 of them also appear on the 2005-06 list of fake universities published by UGC. These long-term offenders include four institutions in Delhi: Commercial University, United Nations University, Vocational University and ADR-Centric Juridical University. Seven institutions in Uttar Pradesh have also been on the list since 2005: Varanaseya Sanskrit Vishwavidyalaya, Mahila Gram Vidyapith/Vishwavidyalaya, Gandhi Hindi Vidyapeeth, National University of Electro Complex Homeopathy, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Open University, Uttar Pradesh Vishwavidyalaya and the Maharana Partap Shiksha Niketan Vishwavidyalaya.
Others, which seem to have existed for the last 14 years despite UGC’s watchlist, include the Badaganvi Sarkar World Open University Education Society (Karnataka), St. John's University (Kerala) and Raja Arabic University (Maharashtra).
Cell for complaints
The Anti-Malpractice Cell of the UGC was set up in 1995 to deal with complaints regarding fake universities and take action against them. Through the years, the UGC’s annual reports have documented occasional FIRs and show cause notices filed against some of these institutions. Despite the Cell’s efforts, many of the institutions have yet to shut their doors.
One of the newer institutions on the list — the Vishwakarma Open University for Self-Employment in Delhi — even claims on its website that it has been approved by the UGC to promote the Centre’s Swayam online learning scheme. It links to a letter, supposedly on the UGC letterhead — which could not be independently verified — encouraging the institution to promote the Swayam initiative.
Other institutions on the UGC’s list include the Indian Institution of Science and Engineering and Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya (Delhi), Indian Institute of Alternative Medicine, Institute of Alternative Medicine and Research (Kolkata), Nababharat Shiksha Parishad, North Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology (Odisha) and the Sree Bodhi Academy of Higher Education (Puducherry). The case of Bhartiya Shiksha Parishad (Uttar Pradesh) is currently sub-judice, said the UGC notice.