BENGALURU: Despite Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) repeatedly sending circulars to the 200-plus colleges under its fold to return original certificates to its students after the admission process is completed, colleges have continued to flout it. These certificates are allegedly used by a few colleges in the city to ‘extort’ money from students.The fear that their entire future rests on getting back the Class 10 and PUC original certificates makes many college dropouts to either pay the money demanded or give up on their education. Only a few dare to fight this thriving racket.
Raghuram Krishnan is one such MCA dropout who refused to buckle in the face of such institutional blackmail. With the assistance of RTI activist Kalidas Reddy, Krishnan ensured his college CMR Institute of Technology returned his original documents.Krishnan joined the course in 2015 but decided to drop out in June 2017 when he realised he could not cope with the syllabus. He flunked in six papers after two semesters. “I found the course tough. When I explained my position and informed the college of my decision to discontinue the course, my HoD said I needed to pay `80,000, which works out to the full MCA course fee, if I wanted my originals,” he told Express.
Repeated pleas to the college authorities for three months went in vain. “My family was not in a position to pay the amount. I spent sleepless nights worrying about my future. Even my parents were in the dark about it. So, I sought the help of my RTI activist friend,” he said. Reddy said, “We first sent a complaint to the college about the certificates being withheld. Since there was no response, we filed a complaint with the UGC (University Grants Commission). We did not get any response from there either.”
Reddy then helped him file an RTI application with the UGC by October-end seeking to know the response to the complaint filed earlier. He also attached all correspondence with the college. “By December-end, Krishnan’s certificates were sent by post to his house. He also got a call from a UGC representative to find out if he had received them,” he said. “I am relieved and can move on with my life by studying some other course,” Krishnan said.
Unfortunately, Mathew Phillips from Kottayam had no such recourse and this ruined eight years of his life. He wanted to discontinue his BTech education from HKBK College in Nagawara during the second year. “I was told to cough up the complete course fee of `6 lakh when I wanted to discontinue my course or wait for 8 years to get them. My parents were upset with me dropping out and so they refused to pay the sum. I did not have anyone to help me out.”
Unable to join anywhere else, Phillips took up a series of jobs in hardware servicing. “I got my certificates only in 2016. I finally enrolled in an open university course for BCA and I am going to complete it now. My life is ruined because of what my college did,” he added. Phillips recalled instances of a few such students in other colleges who bargained and paid half the money and got the certificates. Some even paid the full sum.
M S Karthick, a journalism student, shared the experience of another student who took a different route when the college refused to hand over the certificates. “My friend went to the police station and filed an FIR stating that his certificates were missing. He used that and approached his school and college to get duplicates from them,” he said.
Colleges have no right to retain originals: VC
VTU Vice-chancellor Karisdappa told Express that the University regularly sends circulars to all its affiliated colleges asking them to return the original certificates within a month of completion of the admission process. “We do get complaints from a few students about college managements demanding money to return the certificates. Colleges have no right to retain anyone’s originals,” he said. Asked about the action taken against erring colleges, he said, “We have been calling them and warning them and we also ensure that justice is done to the students. No major action has been taken so far against any specific college.” The VC added, “I will ensure that our Local Inspection Committee, which visits colleges in February, concentrates on this aspect.” (Names of students have been changed on request)