With Himachal Pradesh government asking Director General (DG) Police to inquire into alleged sale of degrees by two private universities of the state, the functioning of these two universities and Himachal Pradesh Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission (HPPEIRC) has come under scanner.
The issue of alleged sale of degrees by two private universities i.e. APG University Shimla and Manav Bharti University Solan had come to light after a letter by University Grants Commissioner (UGC) was sent to HPPEIRC to probe the matter.
Opening of eighteen private universities in a small state like Himachal Pradesh with total population of nearly seventy lakhs by then Dhumal led BJP government had been under criticism of the opposition parties as nine of these were opened in Solan district alone.
The state government had also allowed the private universities to change their business and land use for the land allotted or purchased by these after fifteen years of their establishment raising suspicion about motive of these universities.
The role of HPPEIRC, which has been in news for internal strife for past some time, is also being questioned by the educationists for its alleged failure in regulating the private universities and maintaining education standards.
A former member of the HPPEIRC said, “The Regulatory Commission has a mandate to check all malpractices by private universities but with appointment of political persons as chairman and members its functioning has not been up to the mark.”
It is not the first time the complaint of sale of degrees by a private university has figured; in fact in 2015 also a complaint of alleged sale of degrees was filed against Manav Bharti University Solan, which the university authorities had denied.
In the present case an anonymous complaint received by UGC was forwarded to HPPEIRC in which allegation of sale of 4 – 5 lakhs degrees by several universities of India including APG University Shimla and Manav Bharti University Solan were leveled.
After getting this letter from UGC the state government had asked HPPEIRC and DG Police to inquire the matter. The complaint could not be investigated by Vigilance department since the department does not investigate anonymous complaints.
Leader of opposition in HP Assembly Mukesh Agnihotri has demanded a thorough probe in the matter and said “Strict action should be taken against the universities and students buying degrees to maintain education standards in the state”.
Agnihotri said, “We have been opposing opening of so many private universities in the state and allowing these to change business after 15 years and our apprehension of education for sale has proved right with these allegations.”
Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj said, “An anonymous complaint regarding alleged sale of degrees has been forwarded to HPPEIRC by UGC mentioning names of two private universities i.e. APJ University Shimla and Manav Bharti University Solan and we have asked DP police to investigate the matter and sought a report from HPPEIRC.” te universities i.e. APJ University Shimla and Manav Bharti University Solan and we have asked DP police to investigate the matter and sought a report from HPPEIRC.”