In what comes as a relief for students across the country, the University Grants Commission, the statutory body in charge of higher education in India, issued a notification on Wednesday barring institutions from taking students’ original documentation at the time of college admissions.
It says, “No student will be required to submit any original academic and personal certificates like marksheets, school leaving certificates, etc., at the time of submission of admission form. In case required, the institution concerned will only ensure verification of the same with the original certificates and these certificates shall be returned to the students immediately. No institution can take any original certificate into their custody.”
The UGC has states that the notification is an effort to help students, who have been facing problems during admissions due to coercive and profiteering institutional practices.
The notification is applicable to undergraduate, postgraduate, research programmes run by universities included under Section 20 of the UGC Act, all affiliated Colleges and deemed institutions.
The notification also said that higher education institutions can charge fees in advance only for the semester/ year in which a students wants to engage in academic activities. Collecting advance fees for the entire programme of study has been prohibited.
Issuing guidelines for institutions refunding a student for withdrawal from a programme, the notification laid out seven conditions:
100%: in case a student decides to withdraw 15 days or more before the formally notified last date of admission. Not more than 5% of the fees paid by the student, subject to a maximum of Rs. 5000, will be deducted as processing charges.
90%: in case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days before the formally notified last date of admission.
80%: in case a student decides to withdraw within 15 days after the formally notified last date of admission.
50%: in case a student decides to withdraw between 16 days and 30 days after the formally notified last date of admission.
NIL: in case a student decides to withdraw after 30 days of the formally notified last date of admission.
The entire caution money and security deposit, which are not part of the fee chargeable, shall be refunded in full.
Refund of fees shall be made by the HEIs (higher education institutions) within 15 days of receipt of a written application from a student.
Further, the notification also said that higher education bodies in the country cannot make it mandatory for applying students to purchase the institution’s prospectus at any time during the course of the study.
In addition to this, all higher education institutions have been asked to disclose on their website and prospectus information regarding the status of the institutions, its affiliation, accreditation status, physical assets and amenities, course-wise sanctioned intake of students, various types of fees payable for different programmes, total fees payable for an entire programme, last date of admission, details of faculty, members of Governing Bodies and minutes of the meeting of bodies, sources of income, financial situation and any other information about its functioning, necessary for an applicant to make a fully informed choice.
Higher education institutions will also be mandatorily required to have a Grievance Redressal Mechanism (GRM) as per to the provisions of the UGC (Grievance Redressal) Regulations, 2012. This GRM shall be available on the website and the institutions will be required to ensure that all grievances are addressed within 30 days.
Further, the notification provides for initiation of strict punitive action by the UGC against institutions that comply with its regulations. These include withdrawal of declaration of fitness to receive grants from UGC, withholding the grants allocated to the institution, declaration of the institution as ineligible to receive any assistance from UGC for General or Special Programmes, announcing the institute’s non-compliance through newspapers, media and on the UGC website, recommending withdrawal of affiliation, recommending to the Central Government for withdrawal of deemed to be university and recommending appropriate state government action.