Mysuru: The phrase “caught between the devil and the deep sea” can best explain the situation of Karnataka State Open University (KSOU) which on one hand is trying to get recognition from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and on the other has to compensate students for the loss of their academic years.
As if the recognition tangle was not enough, the Kerala High Court yesterday ordered KSOU to pay Rs. 3 lakh per student for losing their academic year and for those students whose degrees have been derecognised.
Hearing a petition filed by Brenet, a KSOU student from Kerala, and others, the Kerala HC has ordered the Open University to compensate the students as they are not at fault and have been victimised.
The Court order also applies to those students who have not completed their courses as the UGC derecognised the courses. For such students, the Court has asked the KSOU to allow them to complete their courses in any of the colleges coming under its jurisdiction or pay them Rs. 3 lakh each as compensation.
Students told the Court that they learnt about the derecognition in 2015 when a leading Malayalam daily carried the news. But it was too late because they had already registered from 2012 for technical courses at different centres of KSOU. The University gave an impression the courses still had UGC recognition and now the academic prospects of over 4.50 lakh students have been affected, they told the Court.
Many students, who have taken up jobs at Indian and multi-national companies after completing technical courses from KSOU, have either lost their jobs as their degrees have no value now or are in dire straits. The Kerala HC order has come as a relief to students who can now hope to at least get back the fees paid to the KSOU and the money paid to its study centres.
When Star of Mysore contacted KSOU Vice-Chancellor Prof. D. Shivalingaiah to seek his reaction on the Kerala HC order, he said that certain cases will not come under the purview of the High Courts and only Supreme Court has the powers to hear such cases. “The Kerala HC has not asked us to pay a fine but to compensate affected students. This will apply only to those Kerala students who have petitioned the HC and not all other students,” he said.
In a similar case sometime back, the Supreme Court had asked an institution to pay back the fees for the loss of academic year. “Here, the Kerala students have not sought any compensation and they have only sought a chance to write the examination,” the VC said.
Prof. Shivalingaiah said that the Kerala HC order and the UGC’s lack of response to the Karnataka High Court order (that had asked the UGC to grant recognition for non-technical courses by Dec. 26) will be placed before the KSOU Academic Council meeting on Jan. 9 and Board of Management meeting on Jan. 10. “The meeting will take a final call on the next step to be taken,” he said.