The Mess Inside Karnataka State Open Varsity
BENGALURU: The one-man fact-finding panel appointed by the governor to look into irregularities in the administration of the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) has held the University Grants Commission (UGC) responsible for the uncertainty that clouds the future of those pursuing higher education at the university.
In his report to the governor, Justice K Bhakthavatsala has stated, “There is guilt on the part of the Distance Education Council/UGC in not taking quick and stringent action, at the appropriate stage, against the varsity. It is implicit that the DEC/UGC has indirectly allowed the varsity to do as it pleases. Now the UGC is targeting innocent students, which is not in the interest of the society.”
KSOU’s recognition expired in 2013. In a letter dated 12 August, 2014, addressed to the secretary, UGC, KSOU had made a request for renewal of recognition of its programmes. However, there was no response from the UGC. As a result, the university has not been offering recognised course since 2013-14.
The university was accorded recognition for a period of five years on April 8, 2008, by the DEC (the UGC has since taken over this duty). According to Justice Bhakthavatsala’s report, the UGC did not bother to follow proper course of action after the recognition expired, even as the university continued to take in students.
After two years, the commission finally woke up and announced that the university is not recognised.
However, the KSOU prospectus claims that the university has recognition from the competent authority.
As a result, lakhs of innocent students were misled into taking up courses in the university.
“One cannot fault the innocent students and their parents. The authorities concerned will have to take a decision in a way that does not jeopardise the interest of students,” Justice Bhakthavatsala says.
A question of Recognition
Recognition of KSOU accorded by the Distance Education Council (DEC) for a period of five years expired on April 7, 2013. In December 2012, as per direction from the Central Government, the responsibility of undertaking the regulatory functions of Distance Education was transferred from the DEC to UGC. Therefore, the varsity has to seek recognition from the authority called the UGC.
Admissions go up
The number of students admitted from 1996-97 to 2014-15, to various courses in the in-house programmes of the varsity increased to 91,755 from 21,695.