SC, UGC directions being violated for profiteering
JAMMU, Aug 29: In clear violation of the Supreme Court ruling and also directions of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Government Degree Colleges affiliated to Jammu University are refusing to refund the fees of hundreds of students, who have withdrawn their admission for studies in other institutions.
Allegedly adopting coercive and profiteering institutional practices, these Government Degree Colleges are refusing to refund the admission fees of these students by giving reference of an 18- year old outdated circular of the State Higher Education Department and ignoring the latest directions of UGC as well as the Supreme Court on the matter.
More interestingly, the Cluster University Jammu, which is also a State University like Jammu University and functioning under greater control of the Higher Education Department, is refunding the admission fees of such students after charging nominal services charges.
Pertinent to mention that a student is charged around 8-10 thousand fees for admission in the Government Degree Colleges under Jammu University or Cluster University Jammu. Since the number of such students, who have withdrawn their admission from JU affiliated colleges, is in hundreds, an amount of lakhs of rupees is being illegally retained by these institutions by virtually fleecing the students, a big number of whom are from economically weaker background.
According to the Higher Education Department circular, dated 07-09-2001, a student who discontinues his studies or seeks admission elsewhere in a different course is not entitled to a refund of fee whatsoever as such drop-outs deprive students with lower merit of admission in colleges and therefore refund of fees in their favour is not justifiable.
However, on the other hand, there was a UGC notification in October 2018, applicable to Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Research Programmes run by the universities together with all colleges under affiliation domain, which clearly states that if a student chooses to withdraw from the programme of study in which, he/she is enrolled, the institution concerned shall refund the fees.
The UGC issued this notification for adoption of standard operating procedure in the matters related to refund of fees in the event of students’ withdrawal from the program and non-retention of certificates at the time of admission.
As per this notification, there is a five-tier system for the refund of fees remitted by the student. In case notice of withdrawal of admission is received in the college 15 days or more before the formally notified last date of admission, 100 percent of admission fee shall be refunded while in case of less than 15 days before the last date of admission, 90 percent of fees shall be refunded.
Similarly, when notice of withdrawal of admission is received 15 days or less after the formally notified last date of admission, 80 percent of fees shall be refunded while in case of 30 days or less but more than 15 days after last date of admission, refund of fees shall be 50 percent.
However, no fees shall be refunded in the case if the notice of withdrawal of admission is received more than 30 days after the last date of admission.
August 27 was last date for admission in the newly opened and JU affiliated city colleges while admission in other colleges was closed by the end of first week of this month. However, in all the cases notices for withdrawal were received in less than 15 days of the last date of admission or even more earlier thus qualifying the students for refund of at least 80 percent of the admission fees, said a senior officer of Jammu University on the condition of anonymity.
Further, the Supreme Court in a 2016 ruling has also made it clear that a student is not a consumer and the university is bound to refund the fees if he/she withdraws admission from an institution.
Some Principals of these Government Degree Colleges and JU officials admitted that no clarification was sought from the Higher Education Department on validity of its 18-year old circular on admission fees, particularly in view of the fact that Supreme Court ruling as well as UGC notification nullifies the outdated order.