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Institutes can’t keep original certificates of students, says HRD Ministry

Institutes can’t keep original certificates of students, says HRD Ministry

Mumbai, Oct 17 (UNI) The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a set of student-friendly guidelines that prohibit institutes of higher education from keeping original documents of aspirants and students.

But educationists are asking how effective can the new set of guidelines be given that this is at least the third time that the UGC has tried to rein in errant universities and institutions, according to a report of the Billion Press.

In a new attempt announced earlier this month, the HRD Ministry and UGC said students seeking admission to universities and institutes for higher education will no more be required to submit their original documents like marksheets or school leaving certificates.

The HRD ministry also announced that institutes are obliged to refund fees according to a schedule if the student withdraws the admission, with a 100 per cent refund when the withdrawal of admission is made a fortnight before the notified last date.

The government diktat will bring relief to students who often were locked in to institutes where they sought admission, making it difficult for them to switch institutes or change courses because the original documents and full fees were being collected and retained by institutes.

“No institution can take any original certificate into their custody. They can only ask for self-attested copies of the documents," HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said, announcing the change.

The extent of the problem was highlighted by the UGC itself which had issued a similar notification way back in 2007, which said, “Universities and Institutions by way of retaining the certificate in original force retention of admitted students which limits the opportunities of candidates from exercising other options of joining other institutions of their choice. However, it is not permissible for Universities and institutions to retain the school/institution leaving certificate, marksheet, caste certificate and other documents in original.”

This 2007 notification, however, did not have much effect. In 2016, Prof Jaspal S Sandhu, then Secretary of the UGC, sent a letter to the Vice chancellors of all Universities, noting that, “The Commission is still receiving complaints from students/parents regarding non refund of fees by Universities/colleges/institutions which are collecting full fees from the admitted students, retaining their school leaving certificates in original and confiscating the fee paid if a student fails to join within a specified date.”

This is thus the third time the UGC is opening the issue, this time with a warning of strict action.

In a statement, the HRD ministry said higher educational institutions will face “strict punitive action” if the guidelines are not adhered to. This includes withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants from UGC, withholding of grants allocated to the higher educational institutions (HEI), declaration of HEI as ineligible to receive any assistance from UGC for General or Special Programmes, recommending to the affiliating university for withdrawal of affiliation, in case of a College/ Institute, recommending to the Central Government for withdrawal of Deemed to be University declaration, in case of an Institution Deemed to be University and appropriate necessary action in case of University established or incorporated under a State Act.

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The non-refund of fees in case an admission is withdrawn within one month will also invite a similar penalty,the UGC has warned.A student withdrawing admission 15 days before the notified last date of admission will be entitled to a 100 percent refund. The colleges that deduct a processing fee cannot deduct more than five per cent paid by the student, subject to a maximum of Rs. 5,000.

The following is the full schedule for refund of fees, should a student ask for it: Ninety per cent: in case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days before the formally notified last date of admission.

Eighty per cent: in case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days after the formally notified last date of admission.

Fifity per cent: in case a student decides to withdraw between 16 days and 30 days after the formally notified last date of admission.

NIL: in case a student decides to withdraw after 30 days of the formally notified last date of admission.

The entire caution money and security deposit, which are not part of the fees chargeable, shall be refunded in full in all cases, UGC said. The refund of fees shall be made by the HEIs within 15 days of receipt of a written application from a student.

The directive was welcomed but educationists were not clear how speedily or effectively it could be implemented in a system where originals are routinely kept as security against the student trying for a seat elsewhere to better their prospects.

Dr. Mohammad Kalam, the former Dean of School of Social Sciences, University of Madras, called the HRD minisitry order a “good deterrent” but added: “For the UGC directive to be effective, there should be a notice put up in colleges with addresses and contact numbers. This will enable students to appeal in case the stipulations of the directive are not met by a particular educational institution.”

UNi XC SNU 1809

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