Awaiting UGC nod, KSOU puts off admission process

MYSURU: The Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), whose courses have been derecognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), has postponed its admission process. It wants to get the UGC recognition for its courses before admitting students.
The admissions were supposed to start in July.

On June 16, UGC secretary Jaspal S Sandhu sent a public notice saying KSOU had blatantly flouted its norms, guidelines and directives and that the courses offered by the university after 2012-13 were not recognized.

After the news broke, lakhs of students who had got admission to courses in KSOU rushed to the university seeking explanations.

Subsequently, KSOU vice-chancellor MG Krishnan visited the UGC headquarters in New Delhi to clear their doubts. He also met SP Goyal, joint secretary, department of higher education, union ministry of human resources development, and explained the situation.

“While the KSOU used to update the state higher education minister and the governor about its admission process, courses, students and other details, it failed to submit any details to UGC in the past three years,” source said.

The UGC has now called for a meeting with vice chancellors and registrars of all recognised universities in the state, including KSOU, University of Mysore, Kuvempu University and Gulbarga University to discuss various issues including recognition for courses. It has demanded that KSOU submit all the details pertaining to its admission process, courses and others by August end.

“We are expecting a positive response from the UGC after the meeting. We hope to start the admissions by September 20. Students will be given time till the end of January, 2016 to join our courses,” sources said adding that around 5 lakh students are already pursuing various courses in KSOU.

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More educational opportunities for foreigners in India!

The government is planning to open its education and legal services to foreigners and liberalizing education, which is a move aimed at boosting the country’s services sector. Explaining the country’s approach to open education sector, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia suggested opening online courses to make it better accessible across communities and countries.

About opening legal services for foreign players, she said the Commerce Ministry’s intention is to work with Bar Council of India (BCI) to move in a direction which is in tandem with the policies of both. The government is also in consultation with the Society for Indian Law Firms for this. The Department of Commerce built with stakeholders aims at allowing multi-professional firms to come in, and to allow them to increase size of the firms. “So, these could be early stage reforms. Once we do that, in the next stage we can have consultation with the BCI,” said Rita in a statement to PTI.

Opening up of these two sectors is under discussion of the Committee of Secretaries. The UK and the US have been pushing India to open up the sector to foreign firms.

The Advocates Act, which is administered by the BCI, provides for foreign lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocal basis for temporary periods to advise their clients on foreign law and diverse international legal issues.


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Govt launches education loan portal

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday said it has a launched the website ‘’ for students seeking educational loans. Five banks, including SBI, IDBI Bank and Bank of India, have integrated their system with the portal.”Vidya Lakshmi was launched on the occasion of Independence Day for the benefit of students seeking educational loans,” a finance ministry release said.

The portal has been developed and maintained by NSDL e-governance infrastructure limited (NSDL e-Gov) under the guidance of department of financial services in the finance ministry, department of higher education, ministry of human resource development and Indian Banks Association (IBA).

Finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech for 2015-16 had proposed to set up a fully IT-based student financial aid authority to administer and monitor scholarships as well as educational loan schemes through Pradhan Mantri Vidya Lakshmi Karyakram(PMVLK).

It is aimed to ensure that no student misses out on higher education for lack of funds, said the release., adding that the launch of the portal is the first step towards achieving this objective. “Vidya Lakshmi Portal is the first of its kind portal providing single window for students to access information and make applications for educational loans provided by banks as also government scholarships,” it added.

The portal will provide information about educational loan schemes of banks, common educational loan application form for students, facility to apply to multiple banks for educational loans, and facility for banks to download students’ loan applications.It also has facility for banks to upload loan processing status, facility for students to email grievances/queries relating to educational loans, dashboard facility for students to view status of their loan application and linkage to National Scholarship Portal for information and application for government scholarships.

Finance ministry said so far 13 banks have registered 22 educational loan schemes on the Vidya Lakshmi Portal and five banks — SBI, IDBI Bank, Bank of India, Canara Bank and Union Bank of India have integrated their system with the portal for providing loan processing status to students.

“This initiative aims to bring on board all banks providing educational loans. It is expected that students throughout the country will be benefited by this initiative of the government by making available a single window for access to various educational loan schemes of all banks,” said the release further.



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100 candidates complete training in digital literacy

About 100 persons, most of them women, who underwent a 15-day training in digital literacy under the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) were awarded certificates here on Friday.

The NDLM aims at helping adults with low technological literacy to develop the skills essential for interacting in an increasingly digital world. It seeks to empower at least one person per household with digital literacy skills by 2010 and reach out to move then 250 million individuals over the next five year. The NDLM programme was being conducted by the Capgemini Business Services India Pvt. Ltd., in association with Nasscom Foundation and Global Talent Track.


The 20-hours of training was conducted at the Capgemini NDLM Centre in Tiruchi with the participants being provided training in basic operation of computers, social media, online ticketing, and shopping. The training included various activities and practical sessions.

The participants were in the age group of 30 to 45 hours and most them were school dropouts from communities in and around Tiruchi.

On Friday, the first batch were awarded certificates in the presence of Nitin Suvarna, Vice-President, Capgemini, Bangalore, Vikram Kannoth, Director (Finance), Uma Ganesh, CEO, Global Talent Track, and Santosh Abraham, Vice-President, Nasscom Foundation.


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Can the marking system in Indian education lead to an ‘economic disaster’ in future?

There is nothing more tragic than watching a champion stumble—that is how most parents feel when their elation slumps into despair, even anger, as their child who got 85% marks cannot secure admission in any of the good colleges.

Then it dawns on some parents that the marking system has been unfair. And this, is what calls for a historical perspective.

The marking system in India was never very fair–especially after the 1970s, when the examination process began becoming more and more populist year after year.

Examiners for the SSC Board or the University Examinations were well aware that even if papers were evaluated fairly, scores were often changed by a district moderator, when going through the marks given by the various examiners that he was supposed to ‘moderate’. If he found one examiner had more students failing, he had the discretion to increase the marks of these ‘failed’ students, so that the number of failures for all examiners were ‘normalised’. Computers weren’t around, so only those who failed received grace marks.

Then suddenly the grace began to become a disgrace.

After the district moderators sent in their results, zonal moderators compared marks that each moderator had cleared. If one moderator still had more failures, his ‘list of shame’ was “propped up” with a few more grace marks. Finally, there were the state level moderators, who performed their own acts of grace. Astute educationists, even then, knew that a child with just 15% marks could be ‘graced’ all the way up to 35%.

Fast forward to today. During the past two years, engineering colleges were supposed to take in students only from the merit list of the all-India examination for high school students. To give state level examinations some ‘dignity’, so they wouldn’t be deemed redundant, courts allowed state governments to let state level examinations enjoy 30% weightage in the common entrance scores. And this, is where the race towards the dumbing down of scores began.

Till around 2010, there was a general agreement that the best reflection of a student’s academic excellence came through the scores of CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Examinations). Then came the IISC/ICSE, and then SSC. The last was conducted by the state education boards. As local politicians did not want to watch their boys and girls flunk, the largest chunk of grace marks always went to students appearing for SSC examinations.

Now, with the 30% weightage system, both CBSE and IISC/ICSE administrators realised that SSC students would benefit and secure better marks for getting into engineering colleges. So both boards decided to give marks as liberally as the SSC board. Year after year, as each board raced along the downward spiral trying to ensure that their students were not disadvantaged.

The most disadvantaged were students from states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, where the average quality of schooling has always been better than in most other states. Though the quality of students from these states was better, when it came to a national moderation of scores, a 90% from these states was clubbed with a 90% from other states, where the schooling was not as effective. Thus, better students were marginalised. Jonathan Swift would have called this the rule of the Yahoos!

Now, with credits for sports and social work, it is possible for students to score 105% or 110% marks. The eventual consequence, is that students are made to believe they are outstanding— having scored 85%—when they might actually be mediocre, if not worse. This inflated sense of achievement makes them stumble even more easily when it comes to the competitive world of jobs.

Worse still, is the decaying academic standard, which has made almost every assessing organisation–McKinseys, TCS, Nasscom and IMBM—point out that barely 15-20% of students who graduate are employable. Yes, they have the marks. But they are poorly equipped to take on corporate responsibilities because their schooling has been bad.

Third, and more serious, is the progressive dumbing down of education at college levels – because students cannot cope with the standards that college students must have. As a result, universities across the world have begun to de-recognise the scores of Indian educational bodies.

But, the most serious issue is the inevitable ‘elite-isation’ of education. The poor examination system has ensured that school teachers can afford to stay mediocre, as their inefficiencies are not captured through examination results. Consequently, good education remains the privilege of those whose parents are well read, and can teach them at home. Alternatively, the benefits go to the children of rich parents, who can afford private tutors to compensate for the inadequacies of the schooling system. Not surprisingly then, survey after survey of IITs and IIMs shows that over 80% of the students enrolled are from the upper middle class. This will only increase the working class/management divide with dire consequences for our economic future.

That is when disgrace becomes a disaster.




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Skill education scheme for students named after APJ Abdul Kalam

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced that the government’s Higher Education and Skill Education Guarantee Scheme will be named after former President A P J Abdul Kalam, who passed away in Shillong on Monday. The scheme, under which the government will stand guarantee for student loans of up to Rs 10 lakh, will be named ‘Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Higher Education and Skill Education Guarantee Scheme’. Paying homage to Kalam, the CM said that he was known for his extraordinary teachings for the youth and for school children, and he encouraged them to make it their mission to take India ahead.

Addressing a gathering of teachers, educationists and government officers at the Delhi secretariat on July 2, Kalam had said that 25 per cent of school time, for students between class 9 to class 12, should be devoted to skill development. “That means, every year we get a skilled bank of millions of children. In such a situation, the role played by educationists has to be unique so that it will help upgrade the skill of the candidate for making him or her a member of the knowledge society,” Kalam had said. Meanwhile, the special session of the Delhi Assembly, called by the AAP government to discuss the issue of women’s safety, was adjourned till August 3 after legislators paid tribute to Kalam, who passed away on Monday. In a mark of respect for the departed leader, the Delhi government also instructed its officials to remove all its advertisements from outdoor sites. A senior government official said that the outdoor advertisements would be removed by Tuesday night and they would not be displayed till the completion of the seven-day mourning period. After the assembly session was adjourned, Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel rushed to Kalam’s residence at 10, Rajaji Marg, to pay their respects to the late President.


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Distance education needs reality check

When educational institutions lose sight of students and, instead, fall prey to profit, it means something is seriously rotten within the system. The derecognition of courses run by the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) for flouting various norms and guidelines is appalling, to say the least. The derecognition by the University Grants Commission (UGC) means that thousands of students who enrolled for these courses are now left in the lurch. After spending valuable time, hard-earned money and immense effort, each affected student is back to square one and needs to start all over again. Who is to compensate the students? That the KSOU is mired in this controversy is not a surprise given that its management is facing various charges of irregularities. Since December 2014, Justice Bhakthavatsala, a former judge of the Karnataka High Court, has been inquiring into these accusations. Virtually, the entire gamut of operations of the university is under cloud.

These include suspected fraud in construction projects, questionable agreements with private educational institutions, the issue of recruitments, promotions and the opening up of 21 regional centres, tampering of marks cards and much more. The list of suspected irregularities has the potential to destroy the credibility of the open university education system itself. It is incredulous that the KSOU had offered medical and engineering-related courses through the distance education system as these require practical work in college laboratories and in hospitals. Reports also point out how marks were given without evaluating answer sheets. The KSOU appears to have been completely unmindful of any repercussions of its actions.

If the UGC derecognition stays, the KSOU experience will drive away students from the distance learning programme. This will be extremely unfortunate as the open university method of learning has a huge potential to give students access to a high quality of education even while pursuing jobs or other vocations. Across the world, some of the open universities are rated so highly that they are routinely accessed by academics and students for reference material and getting doubts cleared. The Karnataka government has woken up to the potential damage caused by the derecognition and has promised to bring in amendments to the law on distance education. But, more needs to be done to prevent the subversion of the open university system and restore it to the position it deserves to occupy, which is that of a premier institution that students can depend on for quality education. The issue goes beyond the KSOU. The government in consultation with educationists must come up with a comprehensive strategy to tighten the open university system across the country.


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UGC may retain recognition of KSOU courses in 15 days

KSOU courses derecognized by UGCBengaluru: Students enrolled with the state-run Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) need not panic over the de-recognition stand earlier taken by UGC. KSOU Vice Chancellor M.G. Krishnan on a meeting held on 17 July, 2015 Friday at New Delhi mentioned about the positive response from UGC in renewing the recognition of KSOU’s professional & technical programs. He said that relevant documents and affidavits had been submitted to the UGC and the process of renewal would take about a fortnight.

Reacting to the recent public notice issued on 16 June, 2015, KSOU approached the UGC earlier this month pursuing the renewal of recognition on the event that the Board of Management had already decided to restrict the courses to the state. Defending the KSOU, Mysuru MP, Prathap Simha solicited PM Modi in a written letter and a copy of the same to MHRD minister Smriti Irani seeking their intervention to resolve the dilemma. He stressed on the fact that 60 per cent of KSOU students were women while 90 per cent also belonged to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward castes that could possibly have access to higher education by enrolling at the KSOU.

KSOU had recently expanded its Muktagangotri campus spending enormous amounts on fees and infrastructure and now fears the falling admissions and the inability of sustenance with the admissions being now confined to the state.  UGC had directed the 200 odd tie ups with collaborative institutions to be discontinued.

In the interest of over a lakh students Prof M G Krishnan continues to remain undeterred on the matter of de-recognition and has approached the intervention of the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court.  Addressing the media queries, he stated that students already enrolled with the course would be admitted to the second and final year, while fresh admissions to technical/engineering courses were stopped.

While it remains a controversial matter with the universities surrendering to the UGC guidelines, Prof M G Krishnan expressed his stance of student’s interest as a matter of urgency and that he would sort out legally at the court. With the meeting held with UGC officials, the KSOU Vice Chancellor is optimistic about securing recognition of the terminated courses as they have agreed to comply with the UGC guidelines on territorial jurisdiction. The admission process for the current academic year that usually begins from July and stretches till November is likely to be delayed in the backdrop of the varsities’ renewal of recognition.


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