It is not uncommon to hear about private colleges offering fake degrees to students and then being penalized by the Government. But, how will you react when I tell you that a Government college has done the same? I am a student of the Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), run by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry under the Government of India. When I was enrolling in the institute, I was told that I will get a degree from Mewar University on the completion of my degree. However, in May, there was a rumour in the media that our degree was invalid. On filing RTIs we discovered that this was true. Mewar University could never award a degree outside of Rajasthan, being a state university.
The UGC since September 2014 had already raised questions against the MoU between FDDI and Mewar University, in light of the AICTE’s non-recognition of our degree. In fact, the UGC had never allowed Mewar University to offer courses in collaboration with FDDI in the first place! FDDI has earlier had a tie-up with Punjab Technical University (PTU) and then tied up with IGNOU to provide degrees. From 2012, they informed the enrolling batches that they will get a valid UGC approved degree from Mewar University. Being an institute of the Central Government, when I joined, I never suspected anything foul.
We decided to go on strike for 15 days to demand an Institute of National Importance (INI) status on 12th September. Under the INI, the institute can offer their own degrees. But all our pleas went unheard when, on 15th September, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State For Ministry of Commerce and Industry said that the suffering batches of 2012,’13 and ’14 would be awarded degrees from IGNOU, as the INI status for FDDI would only come into effect in 2016. As we all know IGNOU offers distance learning programmes and they can be accessed by anybody inexpensively. We don’t want a degree from an Open University after paying such exorbitant amount of fees to study in FDDI.
We have been on strike for the past one month and our petition is yet to be heard in court. My dreams have been shattered, that too, for no fault of my own.
Today I feel cheated because no Government official is willing to help us or pay heed to our protest. I hope that our pleas are heard on the national level, so that students of all eight campuses of FDDI don’t have to accept a degree from an Open University after spending so many years under the impression that they will get a valid UGC approved University degree. I don’t want to compromise on my degree and I want the Government to know that. If NID, with only 3 campuses can be given INI, so should we. #mydegreenotfake