Mauritius-India education agreements under strict scrutiny
A Memorandum of Understanding was supposedly signed between Mauritius’ Tertiary Education Commission and Association of Indian Universities, but a closer look shows that it does not consist of signatures of officials of both countries. (Image: EIILM)
It seems that the higher education sector of Mauritius is still reeling from last year’s blow when several Indian institutes operation in the island nation were found to lack due recognition from India’s higher education body, the University Grants Commission (UGC).
But, neither has India completely emerged from the set-back, and investigations are in full swing to find out what went wrong.
The full meeting of UGC held on June 13 with reference to its January 2014 agreement with its Mauritian counterpart, the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), saw UGC being subjected to close scrutiny by the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry.
Sources said that during the review of the 2014 agreement it was found that in Section 12, which is on mutual recognition and equivalence of qualification, there is a reference to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between TEC and Association of Indian Universities (AIU).
It may be noted that the AIU is involved in giving equivalence and recognition to foreign degrees.
The agreement was supposedly signed last November when India’s Human Resource Development Minister, Pallam Raju, went to Mauritius along with UGC chairperson, Ved Prakash and others.
However, a closer look shows that it does not consist of signatures of officials of both countries. Moreover, no official of AIU was part of the delegation and yet, an agreement was signed.
“It seems documents were signed separately and exchanged later,” a source said.
‘Later’, which mean in January 2014, where the UGC and TEC finally signed the agreement.
What is even more worrying is that AIU and TEC had signed an agreement for five years in 2010.
“The agreement should have been renewed in 2015 but for unknown reasons, the two sides signed a new one at the end of the third year, thus raising serious questions about the intent behind the agreement,” a source in TEC said.
Sources in Mauritius, UGC and AIU say that a lot that has been done since last year to help get due recognition for the Eastern Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (EIILM) owned by Sunil Jeetah, brother of Rajesh Jeetah, Minister of tertiary education, science research in Mauritius.
EIILM is a private Indian university based in Sikkim, India.
Sources say when EIILM’s offshore campus was set up in 2007, UGC had sent a letter that it was not a recognized institute.
“TEC did not abide by the UGC letter as well as TEC-UGC agreement of 2007 and EIILM was allowed to continue, but in September 2013 UGC asked EIILM to close down its Mauritius campus,” a senior TEC official said.
But after the AIU-TEC agreement of November last year and UGC-TEC agreement of 2014, TEC official said, something “ridiculous happened.”
On June 3, TEC listed a number of institutions, mostly off-shore campuses of Indian institutes including EIILM, who were not allowed to admit students this year.
On June 11, TEC through a general statement said awards from all institutions recognized and all programmes accredited by the TEC are recognized. But this recognition is confined to Mauritius.
Source: Times of India