Published: 27th July 2021
No fake universities in India operate completely online, says the Ministry of Education. Really?
This was stated in the parliament on March 22 by the former Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal while answering a series of questions raised by BJP MP Dr Arvind Kumar Sharma
None of the fake universities functioning in India operate completely online, according to the Ministry of Education. This was revealed in the parliament on March 22 by the former Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal while answering a series of questions raised by Dr Arvind Kumar Sharma, the MP representing Rohtak in Haryana. "As per UGC, no online fake Universities figure in the list of identified fake Universities," says the response by the former Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal. However, the response was completely unrelated to what Sharma had asked Pokhriyal.
In his query, the BJP MP sought "whether the Government is aware of the rising shadow gig economy in the education sector, where students are being robbed by online fake educational institutions, many of which operate from outside India." He also asked if the government has taken steps to stop their activities. None of these questions were addressed by the minister. Sharma was unavailable to comment on this.
Shedding some light on the issue, Ajmal Mueen, a Professor who has been advocating against fake universities, says that the issue is quite serious now. "However, the government's response is quite vague. There are a plethora of websites that do not only offer fake doctorates but also degree certificates," he says. "Instead of giving a one-line response, the UGC should have been instructed to take an important decision here."
In October 2020, the UGC had announced a list of 24 fake universities functioning across the country. However, the names of most of the have been in UGC's list of fake universities since 2000. Many of them continue to operate by offering DLitt and PhD degrees to people who can afford to pay for them, with little or no academic merit. They are usually registered abroad and offer degrees on the basis of flimsy grounds that are considered irregular and unethical and academic circles.
Incidentally, online education scams are quite commonplace in the US too. The Consumer Fraud Reporting Agency has closed down a number of them, including Rutherford University and Columbia Pacific University for operating fraudulently and conning students, as per reports.