Scam alleged in Jharkhand BTech college; UGC directs ‘appropriate action’

Jharkhand engineering college appointed teachers without the appropriate qualifications, alleges complaint. UGC, AICTE write letters.

Scam alleged in Jharkhand BTech college; UGC directs ‘appropriate action’ UCET, Hazaribagh campus (Image source: UCET Website)
Sanjay | May 14, 2022 - 12:57 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The University College of Engineering and Technology (UCET), Hazaribagh, Jharkhand is facing allegations of “academic corruption”. The government-aided college affiliated to the Vinoba Bhave University allegedly appointed a large number of teachers who did not have the requisite qualifications for the teaching.

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In December 2021 and January 2022, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the University Grants Commission (UGC) both wrote to institutions connected with these allegations for necessary action.

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Although appointed in 2009, questions were raised about the qualifications and eligibility of nine teachers first by a student in 2015. As part of a probe, they were asked to submit their documents. Since then, two have left the college and for two more, no irregularities were found in the documents. The remaining five continue to teach in the college with questionable degrees and norms violations.

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In December 2021, the UGC wrote to the VBU administration to take “appropriate action in the matter”. However, no action has followed. VBU registrar told Careers360 that he is “not aware” and has “no idea” about invalid degrees and hiring irregularities at UCET.

Some of the faculty members have now enrolled for PhD in Sarla Birla University (SBU), a private university in Ranchi.

In January 2022, AICTE and UGC both wrote to SBU. AICTE asked the SBU authorities to check whether degrees awarded were genuine before considering candidature for PhD. UGC asked SBU officials to “look into the matter and resolve the issue at the earliest”. SBU officials replied to UGC mail only saying that it has “noted” the complaint.

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Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Education (MoE) sent a mail to SBU officials in March 2022 asking them to take necessary actions.

Over the decade since they were appointed, the teachers have remained in the college and even received salary increments and holding important academic positions. The college was established in 2009 and it is yet to have any full-time professor or associate professor, according to the list of 44 faculties available on its official website.

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In May 2009, VBU invited applications for teaching and non-teaching staff for UCET. Four posts each of professor and associate professor ranks and 12 posts of assistant professor were advertised with details of minimum academic qualifications, work experience and pay scale. Candidates were asked to attend walk-in interviews for selection.

In March 2015, a student complained alleging that some teachers didn’t possess required educational qualifications and that it was evident in the quality of their teaching. The university formed an enquiry committee and in a notice dated May 5, 2015, asked seven teachers appointed as assistant professors in four different branches of engineering at UCET to submit their MTech degrees to the vice-chancellor.

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The persons were also directed to disclose the dates on which their MTech degrees were awarded. The notice said: “If the date falls during the period of their service at UCET then to explain under what circumstances they pursued the MTech degree without prior permission or leave from UCET.” They were also asked to justify their appointment if they are teaching in branches other than their MTech branch. The university warned that “if the reply is found unsatisfactory to the authority, their appointment may be terminated immediately”.

However, no appointment was terminated. Of the nine appointed in 2009, two left the college. The rest are still at the college and have submitted their degrees. While no discrepancy was found in the degrees of two teachers, a question mark still hangs over the qualifications of the remaining five. However, they continue to teach at UCET.

In a notification dated September 4, 2019, VBU said, “all assistant professors working in UCET have lack of the conditions as laid down by AICTE”. The conditions were: completion of two AICTE approved-refresher programmes lasting at least two weeks each and two one-week Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) sponsored programmes.

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Irregularity in hiring

Two teachers had just BTech degrees at the time of joining UCET in 2009. However, to the inquiry, both submitted MTech degrees, obtained from Karnataka State Open University, Mysuru, in 2013. In June 2015, University Grants Commission (UGC) had de-recognized the Karnataka State Open University (KSOU), Mysore, for offering programmes through distance learning mode by “blatantly flouting the norms”. KSOU lost UGC recognition in 2012 and, therefore, the degree was not valid for the purpose of recruitment. However, both got an increment in salary in 2019 and are currently employed at UCET.

A 2019 document showing salary increments awarded to UCET faculties also highlights some of the irregularities in hiring. For example, a faculty member joined UCET on April 4, 2011 with BTech as qualification at the time of appointment. He submitted his MTech degree in electrical engineering in 2011 as his highest qualification. However, he is teaching in the information technology department.

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According to the same document, another faculty member joined UCET in 2011 with BTech as qualification at the time of appointment. He submitted his MTech degree in 2013. It is still not clear from where he obtained his MTech degree and in which branch of engineering. His profile on the college's website shows that he joined the college in 2019 but his resume is not available on the website. He is teaching in the electronics and communication engineering department.

Similarly another faculty member whose resume is not available on UCET’s website received a hike in his salary in 2019. In 2013, he joined the college with an MTech degree as his qualification at the time of joining. However, it is still unclear from which branch and university he earned his MTech.

Violating AICTE norms

According to AICTE guidelines, the ratio of professors to associate professors to assistant professors in a UG college shall be in the ratio of 1:2:6. However, there are no professors or associate professors, according to the college's website.

In January 2019, VBU invited applications for four professor and four associate-professor posts at UCET. According to the university's website, there are 44 faculties in the college and all of them are working as assistant professors. Despite the advertisement, the more senior posts are vacant.

Birendra Kumar Gupta, registrar, VBU said: “The vacancy announced in 2019 could not be completed due to Covid-19 pandemic. The process of hiring will begin soon and we will notify the vacancy soon and fill the seats.”

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UGC, AICTE letters

University Grant Commission (UGC), Ministry of Education (MoE) and AICTE have acknowledged the complaint of irregularities in teachers hiring in UCET. However, no action has been taken against the faculties and UCET so far despite reminders.

The allegations come in the context of widespread worry about the quality of engineering education and the declining interest in a large number of institutions. In March 2022, the AICTE extended a ban on setting up of new engineering colleges with few exceptions, first imposed from the academic year 2020-21, for a further two years.

The college administration, SBU officials could not be contacted despite several attempts. Calls to them went unanswered. If any of them respond at a later date, this story will be updated with their comments.

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