Rohtak (Haryana), Sep 26: Nearly 150,000 students face an uncertain future after the Haryana government directed the Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) in Rohtak to shut down its more than 11,000 study centres inside and outside the state.
The Haryana government last month passed a bill in the assembly amending the MDU act of 1975, effectively closing down the study centres of its Directorate of Distance Education (DDE). The university has its only campus in Rohtak but its distance education study centres are spread all over Haryana and also other states.
“Since the state has developed a sound institutional network with as many as 30 universities, approximately 693 colleges, inclusive of government, government-aided and self-financing colleges, two post-graduate regional centres, it does not seem necessary for the state universities to open study centres in the jurisdiction of state also,” the government stated.
The death knell had been sounded earlier with the University Grants Commission (UGC) following Supreme Court directions and asking all states to ensure that their universities stop all off-campus study centres outside the academic jurisdiction of these institutions.
According to official data, MDU had been running over 11,000 study centres. Of these, 1,168 centres were set up directly by the university, while nearly 10,000 were opened through its 10 global study centres across the nation.
“Since distance education is the major source of income for the university, the closure of distance education courses means a huge loss,” Narender Garg, professor and DDE director, told IANS.
“DDE had earned a revenue of Rs.120 crore in last financial year,” said Garg.
“The government should allow enrolled students to complete their courses as a large number of students have either reached the last stage of their courses or finished more than half,” he added.
The government’s order has come as a shock for the many students in the middle of their courses. Every day, a large number of students visit the DDE office to ask about the university’s plan for them but university authorities say they can’t do much.
“The government is playing with the future of students by taking such anti-student decision without contemplating over its negative impact,” said Sunil Hooda, a student of BCA (bachelor of computer applications).
“The government should either roll back its decision or allow the enrolled students to complete their courses.”
Ramesh Sharma, another student, said the government’s decision was a “bolt from the blue”.
Satish Kumar, an owner of the study centre, said they were planning to challenge the government’s decision in court. “Otherwise, it would be a major setback for those working youth who wished to study along with their job.”
Garg said that the DDE was waiting for further directive from the government side regarding the fate of already enrolled students as the position of these students was not made clear in the recent amendment of the act.
The courses offered range from one-year postgraduate diplomas to three- year courses like a BCA. Some courses like MA and MBA are for two years. The fee structure varies – ranging from minimum Rs.5,000 per year for conventional courses to Rs.15,000 for professional ones. The study centres offer at least 24 conventional and professional courses.
(Ravinder Saini can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)