As many as 55 students, who completed a five-year integrated BTech/MTech programme of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in Tirunelveli a year ago, are in fix as they are yet to receive their original degrees.
What’s more, the course conducted by the Centre for Information Technology and Engineering (CITE) of the university neither has the approval of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) nor does it adhere to the norms of Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education (TANSCHE), according to students.
The first batch of students of the department who graduated last year was issued ‘temporary certificates’ containing no details about the specialisation of the course. A few months ago, the students were asked to return them.
Examinations (in-charge) Dr S Prabhakar said the university has taken cognizance of the issue and is “burning the midnight oil so as not to sabotage the career of the students.” Admitting that the degree certificates were indeed taken back, he termed it a voluntary action on the part of the students.
“Degree certificates make no mention of the specialization. We are providing additional certificates that mention them,” he said.
To another query, he claimed that approval of AICTE to start the technical courses was not a prerequisite. Meanwhile, the students charged that CITE has also not adhered to mandatory requirements such as placing the syllabi before the varsity regulator -- Standing Committee for Academic Affairs (SSAA) -- and issuing mark sheets on a semester basis.
According to students, the five-year integrated BTech/MTech programme, started by CITE in 2007, in itself is illegal. An integrated engineering course can only be of six-year duration, they claimed.
The integrated engineering courses were started when DMK functionary RT Sabapathy Mohan was vice-chancellor. The courses were offered under a slew of combinations such as Information and Communication Technologies with specialisations in Electronics & Communication Engineering, Information Technology, Software Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering.
Unrest grew among the first batch of students on the degree issue and they started demanding the certificates.
“The syllabus itself came up for ratification in the SCAA meeting in 2012, when these students were poised to graduate. This is the reason for the university being unable to hold the convocation for this batch of students,” a varsity source revealed.
In fact, drama prevailed at the meeting when the then controller in-charge for examinations of the university, Dr N Kannan, expressed reservations about the HoD of CITE.
Dr Krishnan, who was then HoD of CITE (till April 2013), himself has a questionable record. In July 2008, he was embroiled in a plagiarism charge of lifting a technical article authored by an American academician.
Charges of large-scale embezzlement too have surfaced. While fee cheques and demand drafts by students of all other courses are addressed to the Registrar, that by students enrolled in CITE courses were addressed to its HoD. As an apparent fallout it was decided at the subsequent SCAA meeting to do away with all integrated courses offered by the university. Perhaps anticipating a storm, Dr Krishnan stepped down from his post, and is now a professor at the department.