For the second year in a row, the University Grants Commission has yet again not recognized courses run by the Karnataka State Open University, one of the largest distance learning institutions in the State. With the UGC denying recognition to the KSOU, the future of over nine lakh students seems bleak. UGC de-recognized courses run by the KSOU in June 2015 saying the varsity had violated the commission’s territorial jurisdiction. It had also signed memorandums of understanding with institutions outside Karnataka.
The decision has come as a bitter disappointment to the KSOU and the State government, who had initiated several “corrective” measures to ensure that the varsity gets recognition this year. Though the KSOU was confident of renewing its recognition, the UGC, on requests from Vice-Chancellor Prof Krishnan visited the KSOU campus and verified documents. But, the Commission did not renew the recognition.
In August, State Higher Education minister met Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar to put up the issue of KSOU. Then, the HRD Minister had supported non-technical courses at the varsity and said a final decision would come out soon. In the month of September, KSOU Vice-Chancellor D. Shivalingaiah wrote to the UGC saying that all the issues raised by the UGC expert committee have been addressed. The State government had even amended the KSOU Act, 1996, to ensure that the varsity adhered to its territorial jurisdiction while running courses. Prof. Shivalingaiah was hopeful that the UGC would grant recognition for the 2016-2017 academic year. But things fall apart once again!!
It is a pity that the university authorities are not acting quickly to get recognition for the courses. The students have started losing out on precious time as there is no other open university in the State. There are many students in the State, particularly those who are not able to pursue formal education, are unable to continue higher studies as the distance education programmes have been stopped.
The institutions that have been recognized by the Distance Education Bureau of the UGC to conduct distance education programmes for the 2016-2017 academic year in the State includes IFIM Business School, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana and National Law School of India University.
It is expected that Bharath Lal Meena, Additional Chief Secretary, Higher Education, would meet UGC officials next week to request them to recognize courses as the future of lakhs of students were at stake.