Advertising watchdog pulls up 23 educational institutions for misleading ads

In May 2016, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against twenty-three different educational institutions for violating ‘ASCI Guidelines for Advertisement of Educational Institutions.’

1ASCI_380These institutions include not only private coaching classes but also online certification training providers, private educational societies, and a UGC recognised University. The upheld complaints relate to false claims regarding high rankings in competitive exams, high salary packages in placements, and claims of having the best faculty. Other complaints included unsubstantiated claims of providing hundred percent placement or being the best in their respective field.

The guidelines were issued by the ASCI after taking into consideration the high value that parents put on the education of their children and great personal sacrifices they make for ensuring it. The advertising content guidelines apply to ads of all educational institutions, coaching classes, and educational programmes.

The guideline, among other things, mandates institutions to not make claims regarding extent of batch placed, highest or average compensation of students placed, or marks and ranking of students passed out unless they are substantiated with evidence. They also forbid advertisements which lead the public to believe that enrolment in the institution will provide the student a job unless the advertiser is able to submit substantiation to such effect and also assume full responsibility of the same.

They further prohibit institutions and programs from claiming recognition, authorisation, accreditation, or affiliations without having proper evidence.

Against this context, the notification released by the ASCI on August 4, 2016 mentions that the CCC found following claims in the advertisements by 23 different educational institutions as not substantiated and, thus, violating the ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions:

  • Apeejay Education Society: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 6.2 L & Avg Salary 3.6 L”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the students have availed the claimed salary packages.
  • Clat Forum: The advertisement’s claims, “Meet the toppers of CLAT”, “Neha Lodha” shown as “Clat ’15 Topper”, were false and were misleading by implication. As per data submitted by the complainant and information available in the Public domain, Akash Jain was the Clat ’15 Topper.
  • Simplilearn Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Simplilearn.com): The advertisement’s claim, “World’s largest Professional Certifications Company” was not substantiated and was grossly misleading.
  • Aldine Ventures Pvt. Ltd. (Aldine CA): The advertisement’s claim, “study from India’s best final faculty” and “Study from India’s best CPT faculty”, were false and misleading. The advertisement contravened Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions and Programs.  
  • Bhanwar Rathore Design Studio: The advertisement’s claims, “India’s No.1 Design Entrance Coaching Canter” and “Highest selection record from BRDS as compared to any coaching institute in India,” were not substantiated with authentic comparative data or with a third party certification. Such a comparative claims are not practically possible given the vast nature of the field of education and presence of a large number of institutes across India.  
  • Legal Edge Tutorials: The advertisement showcasing the comparative data of various criteria indicated, showing Legal Edge to be better than other similar institutes, is not substantiated and is misleading.  
  • Made Easy Institute (GATE, ESE & PSUs Exams): The advertisement’s claims, “India’s Best Institute for IES, GATE & PSUs”, “Crack in 1st attempt”, “ Best faculty”, “Best study material”, “Best results”, “Best pool of faculty in India”, “Best infrastructure & support”, “Maximum selections with toppers”, “The ONLY institute which has consistently produced Toppers in ESE, GATE and PSUs”, “The results in ESE 2015 4 streams 4 first ranks, 38 selections in top 10, 350 selections out of total 434 vacancies” and “The results in GATE 2016 1st Ranks in ME, EE, EC, CS, IN & PI, 53 selections in top 10, 96 selections in top20 & 368 selections in top 100”, were not substantiated with authentic evidence. There was no validation by an independent third party for the claims as well. Also, the claims were considered to be misleading by exaggeration 
  • Pratham Education (Crash Course Batch 2016): The advertisement’s claims, “6 All India Rank 1’s in Entrance Exam of 2015”, “Crash Course Batch 2016”, “AIR 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17 & 20 in Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies”, “AIR 1, 2,3,4,5,7,11, 13, 15, 16, 18 & 20 In IP University BBA Course”, “AIR 1 In IP B.Com”, “AIR 2,4,5,7,8,9,13,16,17,18,19 In Delhi University BBE Entrance in 2015”, “AIR 5,38,45 in IP BJMC & AIR 2,4,16,19 in Delhi University BMMMC Entrance in 2015”, “51 out of Top 100 Final selections in Delhi University BMS/BBA (FIA) Entrance in 2015”, “23 Final Selections in the Oberoi’s Entrance in 2015, were Pratham Students” and “37 Final selections in IN IIM Indore in 2015”, were not substantiated and were considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication.
  • Rau’s IAS Study Circle: The advertisement’s claim, “8 in top 20”, “39 in top 100” and “396 Total Selections”, were not substantiated with supporting data and are misleading.

It further states that the complaints against advertisements of all educational institutes mentioned below were also upheld mostly because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement’ or because of their claims to be the ‘No.1 in their respective fields’:

Penguin School of Business Management (Lifetime 100% Job Guarantee), KL University, SCMS Group of Educational Institutions, Ucmas West Bengal, Apollo Engineering College, Bakliwal Tutorirals (IIT), Gurukul Institute (Personal Coaching for Spoken English), Amirta International Institute Of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (International University Diploma), Apeejay Education Society, Lloyd Business School, IMS-NOIDA (IMS Ghaziabad), United Group of Institutions (United Institute Of Management), Utkal University and New Delhi Institute Of Management.

EDULEGAL VIEW:

edulegal imageIn todays globalised and technology driven era, consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements trying to promote different products. This promotion, although harmless when done judiciously, becomes damaging when it exploits the information asymmetry among the general public and misleads them.

Considering the significant role that education plays in the development of human capital of a nation, any misleading and deceptive information regarding the same can cause a substantial damage to the social and economic development of a country. It is therefore important that such unsubstantiated and misleading claims are dealt with promptly and sternly.

At present there is no central statutory agency or uniform legislation regulating the advertising industry in India. Therefore, a comprehensive law on advertising in all forms of media providing more clarity and acting as a one-stop window for all cases relating to advertising is highly desirable.

UGC asks colleges to submit online compliance of anti-ragging measures

UGC2Reiterating its tough stance on the issue of curbing the menace of ragging, the UGC recently released a notification asking colleges to submit an online report of compliance of Anti-ragging Regulations of 2009. It has further warned educational institutes of punitive action if they do not act in accordance with the Regulations or fail to take adequate steps to prevent ragging and punish perpetrators of incidents of ragging suitably.

‘Regulations on Curbing the Menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutes, 2009’ were notified by the UGC in pursuance to the judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the University of Kerala v. the Council of Principals of Colleges in Kerala’.  These regulations are mandatory and apply to all Universities. Among other things, they require institutes to step up anti-ragging mechanism by adequately publicising its anti-ragging stance through various mediums, setting up of anti-ragging committee and squad, installing CCTV cameras at vital points, organizing workshops and seminars on eradication of ragging, and displaying anti-ragging posters at prominent places.

They further require colleges to have regular interaction and counselling with students, to mention anti-ragging warning in the institution’s prospectus and information booklet, and to hold surprise inspection of hostels and other premises vulnerable to ragging practices.

Against this background, UGC has requested universities to instruct all colleges under their purview to submit an online compliance of anti-ragging regulations. The notification also states that the National Anti-ragging Helpline has been set up for students in distress.

Citing the second amendment in the UGC regulations, the notification further makes it compulsory for each student and every parent to submit an online undertaking every academic year at www.antiragging.com and www.amanmovement.org. The expanded definition of ragging to include racial, ethnic and casteist remarks as broadened by the third amendment has also found its mention in the notice.

EduLegaL View:

edulegal imageConstant reiteration of anti-ragging policy is a necessary and a positive step against curbing the menace of ragging that has infected higher educational institutions in India for a long time. Eradicating this menace by creating awareness on its ill-effects can only be achieved with a sincere co-operation from institutions. Latest UGC notification requiring online submission of compliance report is a constructive step towards that goal.

Ravi Bhardwaj

Read other related stories:

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

Racial and ethnic discrimination may be included under Ragging

Education : An Analysis of Teachers and Teaching Standards

Development of Teacher Education

teEducation in India is long documented and has seen a constant growth from the days of the gurukul system. Historically the guru was the epitome of knowledgeGurur Bhrama, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwara, Guru Sakshat Parabramha, Tasmayashree Gurur Namaha,”. The guru was seen as as the manifestation of the lord himself, which encompasses the guru as a guide, expert, master in his field of expertise. He or she was seen as a counsellor who would help mould values and be a source of inspiration in the physical, social, emotional evolution of child. The oldest reference of schooling system are found in the Vedas, where gurukul was the temple of education.

The Modern Education

The advent of the Mughal dynasties, followed by the British education system completely altered the way teachers conducted the teaching. It did bring about a new age perspective to it, however it also eliminated the age old gurukul system in a slow and gradual process. The importance of a structured and approved education system was established with the primary aim to produce support staff. The teachings standards were very high and the teachers competent and importantly respected in the society. This continued till the independence and for the next few decades. The remarkable aspect of this system was that education was restricted to a certain segment of the society and hence the available infrastructure , teaching faculty was complementing the system. The economic growth of the nation brought about important changes and one among them was “education to all”.

A far cry from the previous era where education was the preserve of the few elite, the rapid strides of the nation brought about the need for more and more educated youths to work in the ever increasing industries. The education sector and in particular teacher education felt the pressure of the new demands, the need for English education and private schooling led to a proliferation of teacher training institutes and teaching as a career saw its decline and became a secondary career for those who could not make it in to the main stream job market.

The present day situation has completely transformed the divine perspective of education making it a commercial enterprise, it is no longer a process of acquisition and transmission. According to Adi Shankaracharya “A teacher is one who is endowed with the power of furnishing arguments and understanding the questions of students, the teacher possesses tranquillity, self control, compassion and desire to help others, he is one versed in shruti text and unattached to pleasure his sole aim is to help others and impart knowledge”.The development of education system over the centuries from Ancient, through Medieval and then to modern times shows a significant shift towards teaching as a profession. The social standing of people who pursue education as a profession has reduced in comparison to other professions. The availability of jobs in ITES sector and Hospitality offer more compensation than the teaching profession where the qualifications required are much higher.

The post independence history of teacher education has shown a steady decline where other professions are in front line. Over the past three decades there has been a continuous deterioration in teaching as a profession and teacher education. Teaching has turned out to be the resort of the last in the order of merit. The desire of every parent to see his child channelised to the professions like medicine, engineering and government service has left teaching to a secondary career. The profession has been pushed in the list of the least lucrative professions, the problem has become more acute where teaching as a career does not exist and it is assuming the status of a supplementary career mostly limiting itself to housewives who pursue BEd through correspondence in Open Universities and then assume the onerous task of teaching the children of this nation.

The policies of the government which desires education to be accessible to one and all irrespective of the biases existing . This does not take into account the quality of teachers who are being recruited to achieve this vision of “sarv shiksha abhiyan”. A study of this once holy profession across small towns to large cities reveal the same pattern where there is a proliferation of Government and English medium private Schools with faculties whose basic credentials are questionable, leading to introspect the quality of education which these teachers impart to the pupils. This aspect brings about two particular dimensions to our existing education system, Firstly mushrooming of coaching institutes to support those students in their quest for education, high end faculty help students in clarifying basic doubts to concepts which ideally should have been handled by their school teachers. It has given rise to a parallel education network which is supplementing education provided by regular schools. Secondly, The recent studies reveal that the graduates we produce are not employable as they lack basic skills. It reinforces the fact that our education system needs an overhaul.

THE WAY FORWARD

rteThe Right to Education as a tool of empowerment  The Constitution’s (eighty sixth amendment) Act 2002 inserted article 21A to the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education up to the age of 6 to 14 years as a Fundamental Right. Right to Education 2009 implies full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school that satisfies certain norms and standards. This has come into effect from 01 April 2010. The Act significantly highlights the following aspects:

(a) Free and compulsory education till completion of elementary stage.

(b) Specifies duties of appropriate government authorities to lay down norms and standards relating to pupil teacher ratio, infrastructure, school working days , teacher working hours.

(c) Provides for rational for deployment of teachers only in census and election duties.

(d) Provide for appointment of appropriate trained teachers and teachers with apt     qualification.

(e) Prohibition of physical punishment and mental harassment.

(f) Prohibition of screening for admission for children and capitation fee.

(g) Prohibition of private tuition by teachers.

The economic and social development of the country cannot be achieved by merely passing laws and statues but to take concrete steps in a phase wise manner to regulate teacher education in the country. One of the foremost step to be taken is implementation of the NCTE Act 1993 in letter and spirit throughout India. The need for grass root reforms to maintain the quality of intake in the pre service programmes and effort be made to develop teacher education institutions on the lines of IITs, IIMs and in the recent times the emergence of National Law Schools, where a common admission test be conducted on a nationwide basis to attract the best inputs into teaching and aid in achieving higher standards of education. An effective audit cum survey of the educational institutions under SSA to encompass rural, semi urban and urban areas to culminate into grading of institutions by NAAC like body. This could be done within a definite period of establishment of an institution and at subsequent periodical intervals to encourage performance linked appreciation.

A concerted effort on the part of Government to ensure that remuneration offered to teachers particularly in private educational institutions are at par with other professions, along with Dignity, Respect, and Self esteem of the teachers.

Teacher education should turn out to be an encounter of identification and invention of teacher training procedure that produced desired behaviour in prospective teachers a scaffolding of future teachers can only ensure a strong teaching faculty that can in turn groom the future of India into intellectually, socially, emotionally, and ethically strong individuals and citizens.

Anjana Antony

anjana.robin@gmail.com

Now, racial, ethnic and casteist remarks also ragging: UGC amends the Regulations

In light of recent unfortunate incidents and for some time now, UGC was contemplating to make any acts which demeans a person on basis of his race, sex or caste an act of ragging and finally it has amended the Ragging Regulations to comprehensively include all kinds of offences relating to race, caste, creed or sex of a person.

UGC2UGC, by Gazette dated 29.06.2016, has amended Clause 3 of UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009, which defines “Ragging” and has added the following clause:

3(j). Any act of physical or mental abuse (including bullying and exclusion) targeted at another student (fresher or otherwise) on the ground of colour, race, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender (including transgender), sexual orientation, appearance, nationality, regional origins, linguistic identity, place of birth, place   of residence or economic background.

Taking cognizance of this heinous crime, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “University of Kerala v/s. Council, Principals, Colleges and others” had constituted a Committee to address the issues of ragging and also frame regulations to arrest the menace of Ragging. UCG in the year 2009, with the objective to prohibit, prevent and eliminate the scourge of ragging had notified UGC Regulations on Curbing the menace of Ragging in Higher Educational Institutions, 2009.

The Regulations, broadly define “Ragging” as any conduct which has the effect of teasing, treating or handling with rudeness a fresher or any other student which causes or is likely to cause annoyance, hardship or psychological harm or to raise fear or apprehension thereof and which has the effect of causing or generating a sense of shame, or torment or embarrassment so as to adversely affect the physique or psyche of such fresher or any other student, with or without an intent to derive a sadistic pleasure or showing off power, authority or superiority by a student over any fresher or any other student. This includes disrupting studies, financial extortion, sexual abuse etc.

A student who is found guilty of ‘Ragging’ may be suspended from attending classes and academic privileges. The Regulations also provides that the Institute can also withhold scholarship/ fellowship and other benefits or debarring them from appearing in any test/ examination or other evaluation process and withholding results. In extreme cases, it may also result in cancellation of admission or rustication from Institution.

The Regulations recognizes that the Institution has vital role to play in curbing the menace of Ragging and hence it has warned the Institution that it fails to take action in case of Ragging then the Commission may withdraw any allocated grants and declare that the erring Institution is ineligible for consideration for any assistance and it does not possess the minimum academic standards. In extreme cases, it may also lead to withdrawal of affiliation / recognition.

UGC has also launched a dedicated website for this purpose: www.antiragging.in. According to the statistics available on the website, since the year 2009, a total of 3343 complaints have been lodged till date.

Out of this total complaint, 192 Complaints have been lodged from State of Maharashtra. Further studying it Gender Wise, it is seen that out of 192 Complaints made in Maharashtra, 159 Complaint has been made by Male Students and 33 Complaints have been made by Female Students.

The Highest Complaints have been lodged from State of Uttar Pradesh [692] followed by West Bengal [432] and Madhya Pradesh [372].

The Initiative by UGC has resulted in closure of 1991 Complaints, while 17 are active In Call Centre, 19 Complaints are being actively considered by Monitoring Agency, 45 Complaints are pending with UGC and 22 Complaints are pending with other Regulatory Authorities.

EduLegaL View:

Ragging is worst possible heinous crime, which affects the youth and has to be tackled at all levels. Government has made laws and regulations to address the situation and problem has been arrested to a substantial extent.

The amendment in the Regulations to protect a person from any conduct of physical or mental abuse relating to caste, race, sex of a person is also found in Article 15 and 16 of Constitution of India and the amendment further propogates the mandate of the Constitution.

Good One !

Ravi Bhardwaj

 

Advertising Council censors ads of leading Management Institutes as misleading

 

In a major crackdown on Advertisements released by the Management Institutes and even some Private Universities, the Advertisement Standard Council of India, has in its decision of March 2016 has found several of their ads to be misleading, unsubstantiated and ambiguous.

These Institutes as per the decision of the Advertising Council have made either false or unsubstantiated claims of percentage of placements, salary packages, nature of placement assistance extended to the students, which are likely to mislead the students and induce them in seeking admissions with these Institutes.

In March 2016, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against major Management Institutes and in some cases shocking reputed Private Universities, relating to misleading advertisements and unsubstantiated claims in their Advertisements. The CCC found that claims in the following advertisements were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions.

  1. Jaipuria Institute of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Near 100% Placement with average package of Rs.5.68 lac and highest package of Rs.13 lac”, was not substantiated with authentic data. Also, the claim of “Near 100% Placement” was misleading by ambiguity in the absence of disclaimer/qualifier.
  1. Indira Institute of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Average Salary Package Rs.5 Lacs per annum (Highest salary Rs.8 lacs per annum)”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Manipal University Jaipur: The advertisement’s claim, “Average Package 4.45 Lakhs”, was not substantiated and was misleading. 12. Faculty of Management Studies – Institute of Rural Management: The advertisement’s claims, “100% Placement Record” and “Highest Package 2015 SBI, Escorts @ Rs.9.0 Lacs”, were not substantiated and were misleading.
  1. Jagannath University: The advertisement’s claim, “100% Placement Assistance”, and “Package upto 6 lacs”, were not substantiated. Also, the claim, “100% Placement Assistance” is likely to mislead the consumers as it implies that the advertiser gives assistance for 100% placement. Also, as assistance cannot be a quantifiable measure and could have a wide range of modalities, the claim was misleading by ambiguity.
  1. MATS Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Package Offered – International – 28 Lakhs / annum – Domestic- 15 Lakhs / annum”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the individual students were indeed given the salary offer and was misleading.
  1. Jaipuria Institute of Management (Jaipuria MBA): The advertisement’s claims, “Get assured 100% placement in TOP NOTCH Company by 160+recruiters” and “Jaipuria MBA provides 100% ROI with Rs.9.6 Lacs highest package and Rs.4.5 Lacs average package”, were not substantiated and were misleading.
  1. Shri Ram Murti Smarak International Business School: The advertisement’s claims, “Salary Package – 2011-13 – Minimum: 3.00 Average: 4.00, 2012-14 – Minimum: 3.22 Average: 4.20”, “% of Placements at the end of the Trimester (2012-14) – IVth Trimester – 52% Vth Trimester – 24% VIth Trimester – 24%” and “100% Placement assistance”, were not substantiated. Also, the claim, “100% Placement assistance”, was likely to mislead the consumers that the advertiser is giving 100% assistance for placements.
  1. Saveetha School of Management: The advertisement’s claim, “Dynamic corporate relationship for 100% placements”, was not substantiated with supporting data. Also, the claim was misleading by ambiguity in the absence of disclaimer/qualifier.
  1. ICBM-School of Business Excellence: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 6.2 L & Avg Salary 3.6 L”, was not substantiated with evidence to prove that the individual students were indeed given the salary offer. Further the claim in the advertisement, “100% Placements”, was not substantiated with details of batch size, enrolment forms, appointment letters and contact details of the students who got placements, for verification and was considered to be misleading by ambiguity.
  1. Indus Business Academy: The advertisement’s claim, “5.4 Lacs Average CTC”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Holy Grace Academy of Management Studies: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Placement in India in 2007 Batch. Rs.1 Crore Annum”, was not substantiated adequately and was misleading by exaggeration.
  1. Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR): The advertisement’s claim, “An average Package of 6 lakhs and highest package of 12 lakhs”, was not substantiated adequately. Also, the claim was misleading by ambiguity about the job location and corresponding salary in foreign currency.
  1. Institute of Management Research & Technology: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest Salary 5.5 Lac Avg. Salary 2.2 Lac”, was not substantiated and was misleading.
  1. Mangalmay Institute of Management & Technology: The advertisement’s claim, “The average salary for MBA placements in Delhi NCR, Noida and Greater Noida has been Rs.4.5 Lacs p.a.”, was not substantiated with supporting data and is misleading by ambiguity.

Complaints against advertisements of   Gitam School of International Business, JK Lakshmipat University, Dr.D.Y Patil Vidyapeeth Global Business School & Research Centre, Jain Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship, M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Management and Asian School of Business Management were UPHELD because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement/AND/OR they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields’.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. One of the important functions1ASCI_380 of ASCI to ensure the protection of the interests of consumers in various categories. ASCI has therefore laid down guidelines with a view to achieve the acceptance of fair advertising practices in the best interests of the ultimate consumer.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI deals with complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

ASCI is also the “Executive Arm” of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

EduLegaL View:

An old marketing strategy saying goes “ Jo Dikhta wahi bikta hai”, it would not be out of place to improvise it to say “Jo Dikhaya Jata hai, wahi bikta hai”.

Education is one of strongest pillars of our HR Index and advertisements surprisingly have become one of most important medium to attract students recently amongst educational institutions. Advertisements play a big role in deciding an Institution and it is required that it should be a responsible step devoid of inducements and falsehoods.

But my issue is, what next, what is the action that will be taken against these institutions, who have indulged in misleading publications and advertisements and what about the students who found themselves on the wrong side relying upon the advertisements.

There is no effective legislation in place, which deals with these situations. MHRD look into the matter and bring effective legislation to ban such ads and take effective actions against the Institutions.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

NAAC decides to disclose Self Study Reports [SSR] under RTI

National Assessment and Accreditation Council has decided to bring Self Study Report submitted by the Higher Education Institutes for the purpose of assessment and Accreditation under Right to Information Act, 2005 and has accordingly decided to disclose the Report on application under the Act.

The Self-Study Report (SSR) to be submitted by the Institutions comprises Preface; Executive Summary inclusive of the SWOC analysis of the institution; Profile of the Institution; Evaluative Report – Criteria-wise; Evaluative Report – Department-wise.

SSR is like a statement of purpose submitted by an Institution and it summarises the Institutions’ strength on the seven criteria like Curricular Aspects, Teaching-Learning and Evaluation Research, Consultancy and Extension Infrastructure and Learning Resources Student Support and Progression Governance, Leadership and Management Innovations and Best Practices. It also talks about achievement of the Institution and its plans and strategies for achieving its further goals / vision.

Under the earlier process an institution was required to submit SSR post the acceptance of Letter of Intent and also upload the same on their website and retain the same on their website till the visit of the Peer Team. Later under the Revised Timelines, Institutions were directed to submit SSR along with Letter of Intent.

NAAC has now made an attempt to make the process more transparent and has accordingly decided to provide the photocopies of the SSR’s submitted by Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) under RTI provided the RTI request is made within one month from the declaration of Accreditation results.

It has therefore directed all the Higher Educational Institutions to retain the SSR uploaded on their website prior to Assessment & Accreditation, until the completion of validity period of Assessment and Accreditation, so that on receipt of RTI Application regarding the SSR, the Applicant can be asked to refer the access the SSR uploaded on institutional website.

EduLegaL View

The step is a welcome one and will ensure further transparency!

However, the underlining mischief addressed in this decision is the condemnable practice of plagiarism, where certain Institutions copied language, data and content from SSR of other Institution while preparing their own SSR for the purpose of accreditation.

NAAC while examining SSR had found several such instances and had taken effective steps in that regard.

But, there is a legal issue, several Deemed Universities are fighting litigation in High Court challenging the applicability of RTI Act, 2005 to the Deemed Universities. In fact Karnataka High Court has ruled in favour of a Deemed University. Bombay High Court has also granted stay in one matter. What happens in such cases? Will not the directive be violation of the judicial views ?

Arguments will continue !

Read other related news:

From old NAAC to new NIRF – Warning to avoid fraudsters continues

NAAC warns Institutions to refrain from Plagiarism in SSR

“HOW TO GET GRADE “A” in NAAC WORKSHOPS”, NAAC cautions Institutions

 

 

UGC notifies Regulations on Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment

UGC2UGC has notified Regulations relating to Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of women employees and students in Higher Educational Institutions, which shall apply to Higher Educational Institutes in India. It has also made its intentions clear that an Institute not following the Regulations will face strict action that could include withdrawal of grants or even de-recognition.

The Regulations defines sexual harassment to include all nature of verbal, physical or non-verbal conduct with sexual undertones intending to create a hostile and intimidating environment for the student on campus. It also enlarged the meaning of student to include a prospective student and student studying in other Institution as a student of an Institute, where any incident of sexual harassment takes place against such student. It also tried to protect the student from third party or outsiders indulging in such act at the campus.

The word “campus” has been given very wide meaning to include the Institution and its related institutional facilities and also includes extended campus and covers transportation facilities, field trips, internships, study tours, excursions, places used for camps , festivals and sports meets. It also further prescribes the procedure to file a complaint and the punishments to be awarded in case of conviction.

The Institutions have been directed to constitute Internal Complaints Committee with an inbuilt mechanism for gender sensitization against sexual harassment. It mandates that at least one-half of the total members of the ICC shall be women and Persons in senior administrative positions, such as Vice- Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellors, Rectors, Registrar, Deans, Heads of Departments, etc., shall not be members of ICCs in order to ensure autonomy of their functioning. The Inquiry has to be completed within 90 days and the Institution has to take effective action within 30 days after the receipt of recommendation.

According to the Regulations, in exceptional cases, even, relatives, friends, colleagues of the victim can also lodge a complaint on his/her behalf if the person is unable to do so on account of physical or mental incapacity or death.

It has prescribed a full charter for the Institutes expecting them to undertake several activities to raise awareness regarding the issue. It expects the Institute to notify the provisions against sexual harassment and organise training programmes to sensitize and ensure knowledge and awareness of the rights, entitlements and responsibilities under these regulations. The Institute is also expected to act decisively against all gender based violence against students. Most importantly the Institute will now have to include in its prospectus and display prominently at conspicuous places or Notice Boards the penalty and consequences of sexual harassment mechanism put in place for redressal of complaints.

As an Interim measure, an Institution can transfer the complainant or the respondent to minimise the risks involved in contact or interaction and restrain the respondent from reporting on or evaluating the work or performance or tests or examinations of the complainant. In appropriate cases, the respondents can be denied entry into the campus as well.

Upon conviction the Institute may withhold privileges of the student such as access to the library, auditoria, halls of residence, transportation, scholarships, allowances, and identity card; suspension or restriction from entry into the campus for a specific period; expel and strike off name from the rolls of the institution, including denial of readmission, if the offence so warrants. The Institute may also award reformative punishments like mandatory counselling and community service. The aggrieved person is entitled to the payment of compensation.

If however a complaint is found to be false or malicious complaints then the Complainant is liable to be penalized to ensure that the provisions for the protection of employees and students from sexual harassment do not get misused.

The Institute contravening or failing to comply with the obligations and duties laid out in the Regulations may face withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants, removal of name of the university or college from the list maintained by the Commission; withholding any grant allocated to the institution. The Commission may also inform the general public that the institution does not provide for a zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment and may recommend for withdrawal of affiliation, withdrawal of declaration as an institution deemed to be university or University.

EduLegaL View

Good ! A welcome step ! Should have been done earlier in 2013 itself when the principal act was passed.

Distinctively, the Regulation is gender neutral and it recognises that a male student or for that matter a student of third gender can also be a victim of sexual harassment. There has been growing demand to law relating to domestic violence, dowry make gender-neutral. Infact it is a good practice to make gender-neutral law, which propagates more equality, instead of treating a particular class as victim and a particular class as offender.

Read the UGC Regulations 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UGC directs Universities to award degree within reasonable time

educational-degree

UGC has taken note of inordinate delays in awarding of degrees to the students and has directed all the Universities within 180 days of the date/s by which the student qualifies and becomes eligible for award of degree.

UGC expects that rights and entitlements of students are well regarded by the Institutions and has asked the Universities to understand that one of such fundamental entitlement and inviolable privilege of a student is award of degree in time after having successfully completing a program and simultaneously it is also one the most fundamental and primary duties of a University.

In a communication issued to the Universities, UGC upon receiving representations and references regarding some universities, which are not awarding degrees in time to the students enrolled in different programs of study offered by them, has brought to the Notice of the Universities provision contained in Regulation 4.4 of UGC (Grant of Degrees and other award by Universities) Regulations, 2008, which reads as under:

“The Degree award date/s shall be within 180 days of the date/s by which the student are expected to qualify and become eligible for them”

UGC has cautioned the Universities that withholding degree of a student who has successfully completed his tenure in the institution of his enrolment, for whatever reasons, amounts to constraining opportunities of a student and if an University is found to be indulging in the same, then it will be constrained to take punitive actions as are notified in Regulation 9 of UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations 2012 against the University.

EduLegaL View:

Today, we talk of Right to Services of a common citizen, Citizen Charter for disposing the grievances of a common citizen, but Education Sector is still out of scope of all these. There was a discussion about creating a repository of academic award of student after giving him a Unique ID. I do not know what happened to the same.

Submission of degree certificate, as we all know is also connected with eligibility of a student to further education and any delay in submitting the degree certificate has the potential to jeopardise his career. 180 days in any case in more than enough for completing all the formalities for awarding of degrees. Occasion for such caution should not arise at all.

It is necessary that a Uniform Student Charter is also framed defining the time within a document is handed over to a student.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Read the UGC Notice to the Universities:

[embeddoc url=”http://edulegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/UGC-direction-to-Universities-to-award-degree-within-180-days.pdf” download=”all” viewer=”google”]

 

UGC instructs Institutions to ensure dignity of the National Flag

Invoking National Pride, having environmental concern in mind and taking serious note of misuse of National Flag in events, UGC has asked all the Institutions to adhere strict compliance with norms to use the National Tricolour, as mandated in ‘Flag Code of India, 2002’ and ‘The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

UGC has informed the Institutions that the National Flag is the symbol of our national pride and represents hopes and aspirations of the people of the country and hence should occupy a position of honor. UGC has therefore instructed the Institutions to ensure that to ensure that on important national, cultural and sports events, paper flags are used by all and are not discarded or thrown on the ground after the event.

The Institutions have also been directed to give wide publicity to discourage National Flags made of plastic, which are used in important events in place of paper flag, as these plastic flags being non biodegradable do not get decomposed easily and their disposal with dignity of the flag is a big problem.

According to the law, whoever in any public place bums, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt the Indian National Flag or any part of it, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.

Accordingly, UGC has requested the Institutions to put in place an effective mechanism to create awareness for strict adherence of the provisions contained in the Act and Flag Code.

Read the UGC Notice here:

[embeddoc url=”http://edulegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/UGC-letter-reg-Flag-code-of-India-.pdf” download=”all” viewer=”google”]

 

Institutions must give fair opportunity to a student under inquiry, in compliance with natural justice, bias is not permissible: HC

 

………………. All universities are cradles of the nation’s future. They are, therefore, required to conduct all acts in a highly bona fide and exemplary manner. This responsibility increases exponentially when the university is a premier National Law School imparting legal education to the nation’s future lawyers. How is a student of law expected to be a patron of justice when his university is the epitome of injustice?

…….. Gujarat High Court

Gujarat-High-Court2

The writ Petitioner was studying in third year of a five year integrated LL.B. program and had challenged order passed by Gujarat National Law University [GNLU], which adjudicated alleged malpractice in examination by the Petitioner and held that exam of Quantitative Techniques given by the Petitioner, held on 2nd Nov. 2015 stands cancelled.

At around 4.25 pm, on 02.11.2015 when the exam for Quantitative Techniques was going on barely 5 minutes before the completion of the examination, one of the officials of GNLU suddenly bolted from across the examination hall and snatched the answer sheet of the Petitioner, alleging that the Petitioner was “…hiding something …”. Thereafter they sought to physically frisk the Petitioner and persisted in the said demand. However, the Petitioner objected to being physically frisked by the Respondent No.5 – who was a member of the opposite gender in the interest of modesty.

The Petitioner while being taken to the Director took his bag placed outside the examination hall and took his phone out of the bag to contact his father. It is alleged that he was threatened in unparliamentarily language of dire consequences if he attempted to contact anyone. It is also alleged that later the charge of malpractice was also changed to abuse of phone instead of “hiding something”. The phone was seized, case was inquired into and punishment was awarded to cancel his examination in the paper.

The Petitioner being aggrieved by the process approached the Director and raised serious question on the legality of the inquiry process. He also alleged that the entire process was biased and there was no compliance with natural justice. There was no response from the University. The student then approached the High Court.

A pointed contention taken on behalf of the Petitioner was that there is evident bias in the minds of the Respondents against the Petitioner. Therefore, the Petitioner could never have expected fair treatment at the hands of the Respondents. It was also argued that the Respondents conducted a fanciful inquiry with a predetermined state of mind.

This court considered the arguments tendered by the Petitioner and the Respondents and came to conclusion that the private Respondents went to great lengths to ensure that that Petitioner is cornered and victimised, and that the Petitioner did not receive the just treatment prescribed under the Rules. The Court also came to conclusion that Petitioner was not given fair opportunity to contest the evidence against him and also cross-examine the Complainant or for that to verify the Report against him. The Petitioner was never given an opportunity of being heard, nor was he permitted to inspect any material or evidence that was proposed to be used against him.

Considering the ramifications of the highly punitive action taken by the University which would have long-term negative implications on the career of the Petitioner-student and wastage of one academic year for the Petitioner, the Court quashed and set aside the order dated 03.012.2015 and directed the Respondent University to declare the result of the Petitioner for the examination.

EduLegaL View

No doubt that “natural justice” is a right flowing from our constitution and it has to be adhered to in all cases.

But in normal cases, do we expect the academic administrators to know the rule of evidence or for that rules of trial ?

An academic disciplinary proceeding cannot be compared with other inquiry proceedings. I am not talking about cases of gross violation of natural justice. But we cannot expect an academic administrator to follow the letters of law in matter of disciplinary inquiry. Suffice it to say that a notice should be issued and the student should be given full opportunity to examine the material against him. Even cross-examination except in few cases, should be limited, else a University will turn into a full fledged court premises ….

Read the Judgement:

[embeddoc url=”http://edulegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/GNLU-JUDGEMENT-1.pdf” download=”all” viewer=”google”]