For nearly four months, 400 students of the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) in Noida have been left in a lurch. Students allege that college authorities have refused to grant degrees to them, while others claim that the institute is giving “fake” degrees. Authorities, on the other hand, cited “technical reasons” and claimed that the matter would be resolved soon.
The FDDI, which has its headquarters in Noida, comes under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and is considered a premier institution for leather products, footwear, fashion, design and retail. The issue that triggered the protests dates back to the academic session in 2012, when the FDDI decided to rope in Mewar University (MU) of Rajasthan to offer programmes.
In 2014, the UGC declared the MoU between MU and FDDI invalid. The decision affected over 3,500 students across campuses in Noida, Kolkata, Chennai, Rae Bareli, Rohtak, Chhindwara, Jodhpur and Guna. The programme costs each student Rs 12 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.
Now, the students are stuck in the middle of the ensuing confusion. “Despite completing our courses, we are not being given degrees. Our entire career is at stake. The institute is giving fake degrees,” said a student.
Another student alleged that the institute never gave them any clarity on the issue. “We have been raising our concerns on campus for the last few months but no action has been taken. We were assured by the administration that the matter would be resolved. Four months have passed but nothing has been done,” he said.
Till 2011, undergraduate and postgraduate students at the institute were being given IGNOU degrees. “Since 2012, FDDI has been giving MU degrees. When the issue with MU came up, the institute stopped granting these degrees. It is now in talks with IGNOU on whether the degrees can be given to students under its name,” an FDDI official said.
On Wednesday, Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said that IGNOU is being roped in for the new academic session.
“We are working with the HRD ministry on this issue. Signing up with IGNOU for new students,” Sitharaman tweeted.
But this offers little comfort for the students, who don’t hesitate to point out that the matter first came to light in 2014 and their careers have been put on hold since then.