It feels like the education boards of India cannot and do not want to stop making headlines. Each year we get to hear the new experiments and mishaps of the national boards or the state boards which juggle the life of lakhs of students, pushing them to the oblivion of uncertainty. This time the most respected board of the country, the University Grants Commission, grabbed the spotlights.
A few weeks back, the UGC declared that engineering degrees which were provided by certain engineering institutes of India between 2001 to 2005 are no longer recognised. In order to get their degrees back, the concerned students would have to sit for a theory and practical test, in which if failed twice, they would never get back their degrees. The benefits they received due to their degrees are also being withheld currently. Moreover, those who applied for engineering in these institutes after the period of 2001-2005 and had received degrees are no longer recognised as engineers. What is worse, they do not have the option to sit for a retest unlike their predecessors. Although money is said to be refunded to both the groups of people, it is a big question if these private institutes would even heed to this matter.
Added to this was the bombshell that dropped on 123 varsities of India a week or two later. These universities were asked to drop the term ‘university’ from their names. And it is not simply the dropping of the term. This also means that the degrees which these ‘ex-universities’ are going to provide from next year will no longer be considered as university degrees but merely college degrees. And these are some of the most reputed institutes of India like BITS Pilani, Christ University etc.
This whole scenario is raising multiple questions from the student-folk, the teachers as well the concerned citizens of the country. If these institutes were breaching a code of conduct for so long time, why did the UGC not intervene initially? Why one Orissa High Court case verdict became a necessary stimulant to bring this issue of “illegal” provision of degree? Are the private engineering institutes which have lost the value of their degrees really going to take any measure to save the lives of their lakhs of passed-out students or will they just turn a blind eye and worry only about how to save their name? What about the future of the next set of students from those 123 “deemed to be varsities”?
Students have started pondering about how to come out of the uncertainity, whether they should remain in their colleges without any idea of what value their degrees would carry or will they be forced to change college and maybe repeat their years. The frustration of being treated as pendulums is clearly visible among the student world.
This is certainly one of the biggest leap of faith that the UGC has taken. What seems to be a lawfully correct decision might turn out to be merciless execution of lakhs of hopes, dreams and futures.