Mumbai: ‘Do we ask for our degrees or a refund?’ is the question looming before thousands of students after University Grants Commission (UGC) debarred the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) from offering Open and Distance Learning and Online programmes.
Along with the upcoming courses, the commission, on April 18, also invalidated the online and distance programmes for the January-February 2023 academic session that was already underway, leaving students to wonder whether the past four months were all for nothing.
The UGC notice has left students anxious about losing their career, time, and money, said Ayushi Singh, who also enrolled in the January-February 2023 session at NMIMS.
While running her business in Lucknow, Singh has been attending four classes, five days a week, to get her distance MBA in Business Management. She has also paid the first installment of her course fees worth Rs 40,000. “My course has already started, and students have also submitted their internal assignments, and the registration for the external exams was about to start as well,” said the student.
The confusion ensued after UGC released a letter debarring online and ODL courses at NMIMS stating the institute had violated UGC regulations.
The management institute violated norms concerning the functioning of the Centre for Internal Quality Assurance (CIQA), the quality of Self-Learning Material, and e-Learning Material (e-LM), and the nomenclature of Centre for Distance and Online Learning as per the letter. The institute was also reprimanded for not complying with UGC’s fee refund policy.
Notices served to NMIMS in past: UGC
While the notice seemed abrupt to the students enrolled in courses, UGC officials state the institute had it coming for a while now.
"NMIMS was not allowed to start admissions for the January-February 2023 course to begin with. The UGC followed all due process and gave appropriate chances to the institute only after which we proceeded with debarment," said UGC Secretary Prof. Manish Joshi, who signed the debarment notice.
"A fact-finding committee was constituted to visit NMIMS that has given enough opportunity to the institution to present its case. After due diligence, the commission has decided to ban the programme," he added.
Meanwhile, UGC has asked the students seeking a refund or facing any other grievances to approach the e-Samadhan portal for help.
Online lectures carry on at NMIMS Global
Meanwhile, it is business as usual at NMIMS where students, though anxious, are still attending online classes as per schedule.
"NMIMS will be allowed to resume its online and ODL programmes only after the ban period, provided it complies with all UGC norms," said Prof. Manish Joshi.
The FPJ further learned that students had not heard anything from the institute about the issue despite being allotted a personal councillor during the programmes.
“My councillor told me the course is still valid, and I need not worry. However, regarding the refund of the fees, she told me nothing. She repeatedly emphasised that it is not a big problem and will be resolved soon,” said Ayushi.
Releasing an official statement about the issue, NMIMS wrote, "We realise that this development may cause concern amongst our stakeholders, students, and parents. We are in the process of examining the notice and working with all concerned to address the issue and resolve the situation at the earliest,"
The institute informed us that the UGC mandate is not applicable and does not affect any of our full-time or offline programs.
The UGC, however, remains firm on its stance regarding online programmes. "NMIMS will be allowed to resume its online and ODL programmes only after the ban period, provided it complies with all UGC norms," said the UGC Secretary.
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