Two India-linked higher education institutions to close
Controversy over EIILM reportedly contributed to a ministerial decision to ‘restructure’ the Tertiary Education Commission, or TEC, which authorises institutions to award qualifications.
Authorisation to recruit new students was withdrawn from both institutions more than a year ago, reported L’Express of Port Louis.
The paper did not explain the reasons for the closures, which stem from the lack of recognition by the Indian University Grants Commission, or UGC, of offshore branches of Indian universities.
The two establishments were among 11 placed on a ‘red list’ by the TEC in July 2014, reported Le Mauricien at the time.
Parents of potential students were warned to be careful if they were planning for their offspring to study at the institutions because their degrees would be invalid if not authorised by the TEC and graduates would not be qualified to follow further studies abroad.
In February this year a blog in L’Express claimed that EIILM had caused controversy and questioning among parents.
It was not accredited by the Indian authorities, delivered diplomas that were ‘maybe not recognised’, had lost the right to recruit students, and was going to close in less than a year. But it had charged about 15 students for non-payment of part of their fees.
“In general, when you pay, you have something in return. If the contract is broken by one party, it does not have to be respected by the other,” said the blog’s author.
EIILM had been under threat from the TEC since September 2013 following instructions from the Indian University Grants Commission concerning irregularities with its affiliation with Indian universities, reported Le Mauricien.
The TEC summoned the EIILM to clarify its position regarding the ‘mother’ university, after the UGC “demanded that the EIILM in India close its branches abroad and refused to recognise these”, reported L’Express.
In response, during a press conference in September 2013, the lawyer for EIILM’s Director Sunil Jeetah asserted there was “no link between the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management of the [Indian] state of Sikkim and that of Mauritius”, and that the UGC had no authority over the Mauritian EIILM which was “an independent institution approved by the TEC”, reported L’Express.
The uncertain status of EIILM could be traced back to 2007 when, according to Défi Media in August 2013, a document showed that former director of the TEC, Praveen Mohadeb, should have been aware of the warning from the UGC against opening the Mauritian EIILM branch campus.
Correspondence from UGC Under-secretary Ashok Mahajan in March 2007 to Mohadeb, who was then deputy executive director of the TEC, said: “I am directed to inform you that… [EIILM] is not included in the list of universities being maintained under section 2(f) of the UGC Act 1956,” reported Défi Media.
This legal article stipulated: “A university established or incorporated by or under a central act, a provincial act or a state act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the university concerned, be recognised by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this act.”
The TEC had responded by saying that all steps had been taken to obtain additional information from the UGC concerning the EIILM branch campus, along with four others whose legality was open to question, reported Défi Media.
During a speech in January this year the new Education Minister Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun announced she was planning a restructuring of the TEC, reported L’Express.
She said the “EIILM university affair” had shown that the commission had flaws in its organisation.
Her work consisted of ensuring universities provided quality education, but that had not been the case with EIILM, L’Express reported her as saying. She was looking into the situation at the TEC and measures would be taken.
The TEC banned the Amity Institute of Higher Education from recruiting new students after expiry of its Mauritian registration in February 2014, although existing students could complete their studies, reported L’Express in July 2014.
Its registration was not renewed because the UGC in India had issued a notice saying no offshore branch of Indian universities would be recognised, and without approval from the UGC or the Indian government the TEC could not authorise the institute.
At the time, Armoogum Parsuramen, president of the Amity advisory board, claimed that the institute had “a different status in the sense that we are an awarding body, we prepare our own courses and award our own diplomas”, unlike other institutions whose awarding body was an Indian university.
The Indian Amity ‘mother’ institution served as support for human resources or expertise, he told L’Express.
This month L’Express reported that there was “no [official] communication” on the closure of Amity. But the paper said that the last students must complete their courses by mid-June 2016, when the institute will close.
This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.