The Telegraph
Tuesday , November 30 , 2010
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Doctorate ‘shop’ tag on Andhra varsity

Hyderabad, Nov. 29: Rayalaseema University has been accused of serving as a “doctorate shop” by a vigilance probe, which has found that it handed 2,660 PhD degrees in two years and earned Rs 3 crore.

Some of these degrees were awarded in streams not even taught at the Andhra Pradesh university, the probe report submitted a few weeks ago said.

“The university does not have a management or an engineering faculty or even affiliated colleges that do (have such faculty), but it has given admission to 140 doctoral students in management and 210 in engineering,” an investigator said.

With one zoology professor, it has handed 15 doctorate degrees and with one professor of public education, it has given admission to 145 PhD students, the inquiry sought by governor E.S.L. Narasimhan has found.

Vice-chancellor K. Prabhakar Rao defended the decision to offer doctorate degrees in streams like medicine, engineering, social science and life sciences that are not taught at the university. “We invite specialists from other prestigious universities and institutions for offering guidance and also assessment of their doctorate presentations,” he said.

At present, the university located in Kurnool has 1,000 PhD students, including 465 private students. The admission fee for the doctorate programme ranges between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 after a 30 per cent hike last July.

Rao said there was nothing illegal about offering PhDs and his university was just following the example set by many others in the state and elsewhere. “I understand that in all, there are nearly 38,000 PhD admissions given by all the 23 universities (in the state) since 2008, of which almost 12,000 have already been given their degrees. The drive is more to serve the need for lecturers in educational institutions, which were starved of qualified candidates,” he said.

University officials said the funds raised were used “towards payment of salaries, building hostels, library and also compound wall of the new university campus”.

The state government had turned a blind eye to this because it has no funds for the universities, sources said. Almost half the 23 universities in the state have come up after 2004, when Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy came to power. They were paid Rs 2.5 crore each in the first year and allocated Rs 4.5 crore a year later, but this sum had not been forthcoming in the Rosaiah regime because of a financial crunch.

A senior official in the finance department said there was a shortfall of Rs 9,000 crore in revenue collection in the third quarter, so all departments were not given full allocations.

The push for financial self-sufficiency had driven most state universities to offer PhD and MPhil degrees for the asking, the sources said.

Ever since he took over as governor this year, Narasimhan has been trying to discipline universities. Dravida University, located in a remote village in Chittoor district, that admitted 6,200 doctoral students in 2010 was hauled up by the governor after a vigilance report.

Narasimhan also suspended B. Kusuma Kumari, the VC of Sri Krishnadevaraya University at Anantpur, on the basis of an inquiry report by Justice Hanumanthu.

Opposition leaders say what vigilance officials have unearthed is only a tip of the iceberg.

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