COIMBATORE: In what could affect thousands of students enrolled in distance education programmes offered by the Annamalai University and Tamil Nadu Open University (TNOU), the University Grants Commission (UGC) has cancelled their recognition for the academic year 2015-16.
Besides, the Hindi Prachar Sabha in Chennai and 28 other universities across India are facing action for violating norms in offering of open and distance learning (ODL) programmes. Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani informed the Parliament of the action taken against these institutions while responding to a question from two MPs on Wednesday. Surprisingly, the Vice Chancellors of the two TN universities were unaware of this and said the UGC had not sent any communication to them.
“Annamalai University had launched distance education courses in 1979, much before the Indira Gandhi National Open University came into existence. We are offering these courses with permanent infrastructure and faculty, not as a franchise model. If the UGC points out any shortfall, we are ready to rectify them,” Vice Chancellor S Manian told Express on Thursday.
He argued that every institution must be allowed to function in a competitive environment. Previously the university had obtained a stay order from the Madras HC restraining the UGC from stopping the institution from offering ODL courses outside area of operation. TNOU Vice Chancellor Chandrakantha Jeyabalan said, “We had already submitted affidavits sought by the UGC for getting recognition for 2015-16. We have also enrolled students anticipating the recognition.” V C Kulandaiswamy, former Vice Chancellor of IGNOU and Anna University, commented that it would be unfair to limit the boundaries for distance education as by definition it entailed offering educational programmes without any boundary.