Two years since Karnataka State Open University last conducted their exams, the students have tried in vain to get their grievances heard. The derecognized university is marred by controversies and has been giving fictitious dates of getting recognised by the University Grants Commission.

The History

Karnataka State Open University, Mysuru, was State University established on June 1, 1996, under Government of Karnataka notification dated 12th February 1996 (KSOU Act – 1992). The University Grants Commission gave it an institutional recognition from 2007-2008 which continued till 2012-2013. KSOU had recognitions from University of Distance Education Council, Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi, Association of Commonwealth Universities, London, Asian Association of Open Universities, Beijing and Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver. 

However, problems started for the university when it continued running its distance learning courses even without procuring a continuation of institutional recognition from the UGC post 2013. The university had also established learning centres across a holding its courses without the permission of the UGC. 

The Controversy

In a public notice on June 16, 2015, the UGC discontinued the recognition of KSOU’s programmes through Open and Distance learning mode. The UGC had issued a Show Cause notice to the University on June 10, 2011. However, the university continued to violate the UGC policy on territorial jurisdiction. The university had also been offering professional and technical programmes in violation of the norms of the concerned regulatory bodies and without their approval. They started providing engineering programmes despite directions from the Ministry of Human Resources and Development. The university also began offering online programmes which were not recognised by the UGC.  Hence all the degrees after 2012-2013 were unrecognised.

Back in 2015, an RTI filed by a Master of Arts (final) year student revealed that KSOU, being a state university, can operate within its state only and the UGC has not granted any approval to the KSOU to open off-campus/study centre anywhere.  

KSOU has also been marred with controversies and corruption cases. In 2015, Mysuru police arrested six people including a former deputy registrar in cases of forgery and cheating after a complaint from then KSOU vice chancellor M G Krishnan. Police unearthed a fake marks card racket in the Bagalkot district where two individuals were arrested for distributing KSOU marks cards to students of distance learning.

The Students And Their Woes

The students have been having a hard time getting answers from KSOU authorities. “We have written many letters to UGC, PMO and even to the President of India. Nobody cares. They are not ready to hear us out,” said Mahendra Sajjan, a student waiting for the last two years for the university to conduct exams again. 

Over six lakh students from various coursed across India now have no other option but to wait for KSOU to gain UGC recognition again.

‘I had joined KSOU in June 2011 after completing my diploma and wrote an exam in January 2012 for lateral entry into the B.Tech course,” said Prashanth Acharya, a team leader in a private firm. “KSOU is a state university, and naturally we never checked for its authenticity and joined the course with a lot of hope.”

“Everything was going fine until 2015 when I wrote my 8th-semester examinations and completed all my projects. Out of the blue, UGC derecognizes KSOU and lakhs of students find themselves in a terrible situation.”

The students also found loopholes in the matter. They claim that UGC did not have a particular set of rules and regulations in distance education and its preparation is going on now under Union HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar. They have accused the Karnataka government of disinterest in the matter and the focus on the upcoming elections instead of resolving issues. They say that three vice chancellors have changed in the past six years, but there has been no improvement in the situation. 

A KSOU official has said that the university will be recognised before June 1 this year. The UGC director is due to retire this year, and this seems to have slowed things down.

“My promotion is being held. I cannot change my job. My future is hanging in the balance,” added Prashanth.

While recent reports do suggest that KSOU may be recognised again, it is to be seen if they will be able to satisfy the norms laid down by the UGC.