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The higher education dreams of hundreds of Indian students including office-goers in the UAE will be affected after a university from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu has been barred from conducting distance learning centres.
The Madras High Court in Chennai ordered Bharathiar University (BU) to close all the franchisees of its School of Distance Education Centres outside the state earlier in July. According to media reports from India, the court had condemned the functioning of these centres outside the university’s jurisdiction in the state, following which its legal counsel had assured the court that it would shut down all unauthorised centres.
As per the university’s website, it has six centres operating in different emirates in the UAE. The centres in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ajman have listed the validity of their affiliation MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with BU ranging from the end of this month till May 2020.
Hundreds of students are currently pursuing various courses offered by BU in these centres, Gulf News has learnt. Some centres had also enrolled students for admission for the next academic year starting from September. However, when contacted, the centres said they had halted the admission procedures after reports about the ban on BU distance education centres came out.
One centre in Sharjah, which, according to a Times of India report, had admitted students for the next batch, claimed it had also stopped the admission procedures from June 30. However, the academic counsellor confirmed that the centre was not reimbursing the admission fee to students who had already enrolled.
“Why should we refund the fee? It is only through the news reports that we got to know about this issue. We have not received any official notification from the university regarding this. We are waiting for that,” she said, adding that the current batches of students will not be affected by the court ruling.
Another centre in Sharjah said it had already started reimbursing the students who enrolled for the next academic year. A centre in Fujairah said it was already working on changing its affiliation from BU to another university in Malaysia due to the uncertainty about the approval of BU courses abroad.
All centres, however, have claimed that the students in the present batches would not be affected.
The Indian Consulate in Dubai told Gulf News that no state universities in India are allowed to run distance education centres outside the jurisdiction of the respective state as per the guidelines of the University Grants Commission (UGC) which regulates Indian universities.
“We were not aware that the BU was still running courses here. We will now take up this matter with the UGC. Even if the BU is conferring degree to the students in the current batches, it is up to the UGC whether to recognise it or not,” the mission said in reply to questions from Gulf News.
It added that a press release warning students about the matter would also be issued.
A manager with a logistics company in Dubai said he would now have to chase his wish to take a second MBA from one of the private universities that are not as affordable as the Indian government-run universities.
“Not all parents can afford to send their kids to private universities here. A lot of students will be forced to go back home. It is important for the lower rung of the society to have access to affordable education in such centres. Preventing government-run universities from providing distance education courses seems to promote private institutes and deprive the opportunity for several students to seek affordable higher education,” he said.
An Indian woman in Sharjah, whose daughter was enrolled in that centre, said her daughter was forced to seek admission in a college in Kerala after she was told about the cancellation of the course and given the refund of the admission fee.