Row over BITS Pilani centres: HRD seeks legal opinion on validating off-campus degrees

The ministry’s response had stated that the two off-campus centres are unapproved by the UGC, implying that attestation could be inappropriate.

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Updated: November 9, 2016 7:44 pm

The Union HRD Ministry has sought legal opinion on whether the Rajasthan government should continue validating degrees, certificates and diplomas awarded by BITS-Pilani’s off-campus centres in Hyderabad and Goa.

As reported by The Indian Express on August 28, Raj Hans Upadhyay, additional chief secretary of the Rajasthan government, had sought a clarification on the matter from the Centre’s higher education secretary, V S Oberoi, in July. The ministry’s response had stated that the two off-campus centres are unapproved by the UGC, implying that attestation could be inappropriate.

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The state government, however, is learnt to have written again to the Centre, this time seeking a categorical response, which has prompted the HRD ministry to write to the law ministry. Sources said that the Rajasthan government, meanwhile, has put attestation of degrees of BITS-Pilani’s off campus centres’ on hold.

BITS-Pilani has been at loggerheads with the UGC, the higher education regulator, over the latter’s notice sent on November 9, 2015, directing the engineering school, along with nine other deemed universities, to shut down their off-campus centres on the ground that they were set up without its permission and, hence, violate the Deemed University Regulations.

The institute, after receiving the UGC’s notice last year, had taken the regulator to court on the ground that the establishment of the Goa and Hyderabad centres pre-dates the Deemed University Regulations, which are prospective in nature. Therefore, BITS maintains that it is beyond the legal power of the UGC to issue such a notice.

BITS-Pilani was declared as an institution deemed to be a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act in 1964. It is considered among the best private engineering institutes in the country and was placed at number 95 in the QS rankings in 2015 among universities in the BRICS countries.

It established full-fledged campuses in Goa in 2004 and in Hyderabad in 2008. There are about 600 to 700 students currently pursuing undergraduate programmes in each of the two off-campus centres. HRD seeks legal opinion on validating off-campus degrees