On August 2, the University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s higher education authority, declared a list of 20 fake universities that are not authorised to confer any degree, rendering them meaningless.
Shockingly, the national capital housed eight of these universities, the highest number for any city in the country.
The All India Institute of Public and Physical Health Sciences; Commercial University Limited, Daryaganj; United Nations University; Vocational University; ADR-Centric Juridical University; Indian Institution of Science and Engineering; Vishwakarma Open University for Self-Employment; and Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya (Spiritual University) are the fake universities operating from the Capital.
As many as five of these eight – Commercial University, United Nations University, Vocational University, ADR-Centric Juridical University and Indian Institution of Science and Engineering don’t have any contact details but details of three are available on the internet.
Patriot tried to trace these three institutions, and discovered that despite UGC exposing them on its website, some were not only working but admitting students for fresh batches.
On UGC website’s fake university list, ‘All India Institute of Public and Physical Health Sciences’ is mentioned first.
According to this institution’s website, it is recognised by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship as well as Directorate of Employment.
It is located on the 1st floor, Sant Kirpal Singh Public Trust Building near BDO Office, Alipur, north Delhi. This puts it close to Delhi University’s Swami Shraddhanand College.
The institute, as mentioned on the website, offers courses such as diploma in sanitary inspection, industrial course, engineering & IT, and paramedical course among others.
The address took one to a big two-storeyed building, around 700 metres in from the main road. The ground floor was allocated to Aam Aadmi Mohalla clinic and from its left, a staircase went up to this university. Behind the entrance, two people were working on computers, while a woman caretaker offered water and asked for tea. Posters regarding diploma courses were pasted on the walls. Neeraj, one of the employees there, claimed that the institution is fully verified and operating according to the laws. He also said that the UGC cannot call the institution fake since it is not posing as a university but only as an institute offering diplomas and not degrees.
“We don’t give degrees but diplomas.”
He showed a pamphlet from 2020-21, when admission to 50 courses was open. The institute, according to the pamphlet, was established in 2012.
However, he admitted that admission is open for only one course now.
“Only diploma for sanitary inspector is running now. As many as 30 students can get admitted to it. The process of permission for other courses is ongoing,” he said before saying that the classes will run between 11 am and 2.30 pm.
Neeraj, however, refused to show any papers regarding the institute’s legitimacy.
“We are running this institute with all the valid documents. Some (media) are publishing fake news so we will take action against them. We have all the documents but I cannot show them to you,” he added before refusing to share any contact of the seniors.
Surprisingly, Neeraj requested this reporter to not publish the pamphlet he had shared.
“We will issue a press release on the matter.”
Curious case of a spiritual university
Located in Vijay Vihar (Sector 5, Rohini) in the Capital, this ‘fake university’ has been running since 1976.
Around two km from Rithala, the last metro station at Red Line, a broken road takes you to the Adhyatmik Vishwavidyalaya.
This is a ‘spiritual university’ where anybody can take admission free of charge and can learn about the ‘soul’.
Receptionist (apparently a volunteer) Shankar Anand, who has been living in this university for over two decades, and hails from Hyderabad, entered this reporter’s name in a register and then waited for half an hour.
Two teachers PBK Manju and PBK Harsha arrived and talked about the university.
“We are a real university. This is open to all without any charge. We are neither looting people like other universities nor taking any grant from UGC. We are just working for the welfare of the people, and creating unity among people. There is a seven-day course in the university and most of the students live here. We admit students without distinguishing on the basis of caste and religion. We don’t do fraud. We are not fake,” said both simultaneously.
“This university has been operating since 1976 and will continue to do so. There are 20 brothers, hundred mothers and sisters in the campus.”
The two claimed that the matter related to UGC is in the Supreme Court.
“There is no provision of ‘spirituality’ in UGC guidelines, so we cannot be registered under them. So, how can they call us fake? We don’t have any aim of earning money. But we are working to bring people out of darkness to light. This is a real cause. Many universities are involved in fraud. The UGC should take action against them,” they concluded.
The name of the Vishwakarma Open University for Self Employment has been changed to ‘Vishwakarma Voc-Varsity For SelfEmployment’. The management is still accepting admission if anyone approaches them.
When Patriot visited the site of Vishwakarma Open University for Self-Employment in Sanjay Enclave near Jahangirpuri metro station, the office was shut.
A neighbour said that Vijay Singh Mahajan and his wife had been running this but closed it about a year ago. A board with the name of the university was painted outside the gate.
Mahajan, who has designated himself as the Dean of the university, said on phone, “The Open University is shut. This is now VOCVarsity. The name has been changed and we provide diplomas only. It is affiliated with the MHRD [as] self-project. Admission is open and you can apply online, we will give you online training for journalism and a diploma for it. The fee is Rs 40,000.”
However, there is nothing on his university’s website to suggest the affiliation to MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) or any other institution.
Mahajan called this reporter, who had posed as a student, later to follow up.
He said, “If you can pay the fees today by 6 pm, then we can offer a discount of 10%. Your classes will begin from August 16. We will teach you individually. After the course, we will give you training in the newspapers in your hometown.”
There were no questions about this reporter’s qualifications nor about the name. Mahajan sent two emails through which he offered not only a diploma but an honorary PhD too.
At 6 pm, a lady from the university called back.
She claimed to be the accountant at the university and said, “If you can pay by 10 pm, we can still give you a discount because ‘sir’ (Mahajan) specially mentioned you. Even if you can send a small amount, I will send you a pay slip. You can pay the remaining amount later.”
At night, Mahajan called again and said, “Even if you can pay Rs 10,000, it will be okay.”
Onus on state governments
On August 2, UGC secretary Manish Joshi had issued a circular regarding fake universities. In the circular, he had said that these institutions have been offering degrees in violation of the UGC Act. He emphasised that degrees obtained from these universities will not be recognised for higher education or employment purposes. He also requested parents and students to visit the official UGC website to differentiate between authorised and unauthorised universities.
“We got a complaint against the institutions. We checked them thoroughly, whether they are affiliated to any private or government universities, because ‘only’ universities can provide a degree. Then we prepared a list of fake universities and sent it to the principal secretary along with a letter,” Joshi told Patriot.
When asked how certain fake universities are still running despite the expose, Joshi replied, “It is the responsibility of the state government to take action against these universities. We have also written to the state governments regarding this. In the next list, we will also mention the reply from the state governments. We can’t take direct action but can make the people aware. Taking action is government’s responsibility.”