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Are All Regular and Open University degrees equal?

Annamalai University and Karnataka State Open University admit students to PG courses directly without basic qualification of a degree being insisted. Students without formal qualifications (except fulfilling Age criteria) have to take up a Preparatory course and write a Preparatory exam before taking up PG Courses. UGC has categorically stated that PG courses of Regular and Open Universities (distance Education, Correspondence etc) are equal. However in 2004 UGC stipulated that courses admitting students directly to PG courses without a prior degree are to be discontinued. Annmalai stopped such courses in 2004. However KSOU continues to offer such direct PG courses even now. The question of equality has been plaguing universities, administrators, employers, UGC, Distance Education Council, HRD ministry and most of all the students who have obtained such qualifications where equality is in doubt. When we talk of students, during 1991-92 to 2003-04 some 2.5 lakh students got PG degrees from Annamalai alone. And they are happily employed in prestigious universities and government organizations. Now comes a Supreme Court judgment that says PG degrees where minimum graduation is not insisted and other PG courses where there is such a basic requirement are not equal. One Ramesh was appointed as Director a Film Institute in Tamilnadu. He had a PG Degree from Annamalai. He went through the channel where no prior degree is needed. His friend Gabriel contested that the appointment of Ramesh was not tenable. Supreme Court decided that all PG degrees are not equal. Ramesh stands to suffer. In another case, a few years ago Sanjay Kumar obtained his PG degree from Annamalai. He applied for BL in Gurunanak Dev University. Despite having a PG degree from a recognized University he was not admitted to BL course, because the minimum qualification for the BL course was Under Graduate degree like BA, Bcom, BSc etc. The Candidate went to court. Supreme Court upheld that he can not be admitted to BL. Equality of degrees may be required for employment or further education. Such decisions are shattering the hopes of thousands of students either when they seek jobs or when they try to qualify further. While the statement Customer, Beware is legally binding upon students, dont universities to

have some responsibility? They must make things absolutely clear in the prospectus or in their website. For example KSOU website glibly talks about recognition by HRD ministry, Distance Education Council, membership in AIU, Association of Commonwealth Universities, Asian Association of Open Universities etc. But KSOU does not mention about UGC. Can this be due the fact that KSOU does not get grants from UGC? In the past there have been number of cases of many degrees becoming invalid because of fake universities, inappropriate recognition, the relevant course not being recognized etc. Students come to grief only after they get ditched. I often see a list of some 20 fake universities advertised for the benefit of the public by UGC. The funny thing is that the same names are appearing for well over a decade. Is the government of UGC not empowered to close down such fake universities? Lots of questions, but no answers. Sufferers are the poor, ill-equipped students and his parents. What can we do to improve the situation?