Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Mauritius row over Sikkim institute

Sikkim-based Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (EIILM), a university recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC), has set up an offshore campus without the UGC’s permission. The campus has been set up in Mauritius, and has run into controversy with political parties in that country demanding a commission of inquiry to look into the ‘scam’. Even as the institute doles out degrees to students at its Mauritius campus, varsities in India are refusing admission to students of the ‘unrecognised’ institute.

Set up as a state university in 2006, EIILM sought UGC recognition in 2008. To a query by the UGC on whether it had an offshore campus, the varsity replied in the negative. However, the varsity, in contravention of rules, set up a campus in Mauritius in 2007. As per UGC rules, a varsity can set up a campus within the state they operate in only after five years of being established. EIILM has not only set up a centre a year after it was established but also set it up outside the country.

On March 28, Leela Devi Dookhun, spokesperson for Monuvement Socialiste Militant, a political party in Mauritius, held a press conference demanding a ‘commission of inquiry’ to look into the ‘scam’. While N. Bodha of the Monuvement Socialiste Militant, as the leader of opposition, raised the issue in 2007, the UGC had largely stayed quiet. Only when a Mauritius campus student wrote to it last year, the UGC responded on October 25, 2011. “... the UGC has not granted any permission to EIILM University (Private), Sikkim, to establish offshore campus... Therefore the degree obtained from the Mauritius campus cannot be treated as valid,” the communication read. An admission request sent by a student from the Mauritius campus to Delhi University was rejected on January 31. Kurukshetra University denied an admission on February 23. The reason given in both cases was that the degree was not recognised in India.

N. Bodha said an inquiry must be done to ‘set the record straight’. “The UGC had in 2007 responded to my letter saying that EIILM was not recognised by them at that point. So how could they come to Mauritius and set up a campus. Even the agreement between Mauritius Tertiary Education Commission and UGC has been flouted by this institute,” Bodha said.

Sunil Jeetah, CEO, EIILM, Mauritius, said UGC has nothing to do with the Mauritius campus. Jeetah’s brother Rajeshwar Jeetah is the Tertiary Education Minister of Mauritius and this, he says, is the real reason for the “political campaign” against EIILM. “The Government of Mauritius has given us the licence to operate. EIILM is recognised by the UGC, which is the grant-giving body. EIILM does not need the grants and is established by the state legislature,” Jeetah told IE over telephone.

Source: The Indian Express, April 3, 2012

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