NEW DELHI: The HRD ministry has conveyed to Indian Institute of Management that awarding degrees for one-year MBA transgressed UGC rules and asked them to immediately take corrective action, a year after IIMs started the practice.Backed by legal opinion from the law ministry, HRD ministry’s communication to all IIM directors on Friday said, “IIMs have been awarding degrees such as the one year executive MBA degree in violation of the UGC regulations” and’ directed’ them to act as per degree awarding criteria of the University Grants Commission, Act, 1956, ET has reliably learnt. UGC norms let Master’s degree merely for two year courses as per the 3+2 higher education format. One time tracks are referred to as post graduate diplomas, unlike in many western nations which follow a 4+1 format with 1 year Master’s degree on offer.While IIMs ought to have keen to award degrees for the one year programme in view of global rivalry, the issue became contentious in the last few years as the precedent it could determine for higher education in India. After the IIM Act, 2017, allowed degree grant power to the business academies, top IIMs brought in new regulations at their board of governors degree to permission awarding of degrees for their popular one year MBA course.The HRD ministry objected to the degree in 2018 and 2019 through official communications and meetings of the IIMs’ boards of governors. However, IIMs proceeded ahead with different degrees, with IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta and IIM Indore all offer them. The issue took a fresh twist with the law ministry saying that the move infringed standards after vetting the regulations that were sent in for approbation. The law ministry has said IIMs had influence to grant degrees, diplomata and other academic distinctions but the IIM Act, 2017, did not define a’ degree’ nor empower IIMs or the human rights committee to make any regulations in this regard.Government directionsThe Law ministry has was of the view that while Section 7( f) and 11( 2)( f) of the IIM Act, 2017 do empower IIMs to grant degrees, certificates and other academic differences, this Act does not define a’ degree’. Also the IIM Act, 2017 does not empower the IIMs and their Committees to make any regulations in this regard.Section 7( b) of the IIM Act lets IIMs to admit students to various courses of study but “in conformity with the existing legislation for the time being in force”.The Department of Legal Affairs, Law ministry has accordingly assessed that “for award of MBA degree to participants of one year Post Graduate Programme in Management in Executive, the institutes are required to act in conformity of UGC Act, 1956 ”- the existing laws of the land.Accordingly, the HRD ministry has written to IIM Directors trying to tell me that in view of the same, “all IIMs are directed to act as per the provisions of the IIM Act, 2017 and the interpretation of Department of Legal Affairs that in awarding degree, the institutes are required to act in conformity with UGC Act, 1956 ”.
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