Private Indian varsity barred in Ghana, under cloud back home

Accra, May 16 (IANS) A private Indian university has been barred from recruiting Ghanian students for its distance learning programmes since it is not accredited in this country. The university is under a cloud back home with a federal probe likely into its affairs – particularly the awarding of an extraordinarily high number of degrees – and its chancellor-promoter is on the run.

The decision of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) against CMJ University, based in Shillong, the capital of the northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya, follows investigations that some foreign institutions without proper credentials had targeted prospective Ghanaian students in their recruitment drives and in some cases duped these students by giving them spurious qualifications.

This is the second private Indian educational institution to be barred in Africa, after Ethiopia stopped the the Sri Sai College from recuriting fresh students as it had not presented a renewed licence from its partner, Sikkim Manipal University (SMU).

CMJ University, named after its chancellor Chandra Mohan Jha, had advertised to recruit Ghanaian students for its distance learning MBA, pre-MBA, and other post-graduate programmes beginning in June.

However, NAB said CMJ “claims to have both institutional and programme accreditation issued by UGC (University Grants Commission) of India,” but it was discoverd that the institution had neither been registered or accredited by the board in Ghana.

Accordingly, it cautioned prospective students, employers and the general public not to deal with the institution.

The statement said that because CMJ has not been recognised in Ghana, “whatever accreditation it claims to have does not have any effect in Ghana”,adding: “Recruiting agencies or institutions recruiting students for tertiary education institutions outside Ghana are required to register with the National Accreditation Board.”

It warned that the promoters or representatives of such institutions, by not seeking accreditation before attempting to recruit students were in “contravention” of the laws regulating the activities of tertiary institutions.

The NAB, therefore, asked CMJ to “cease all advertisement or face appropriate legal actions”.

Accordingly, NAB cautioned the general public to desist from responding to CMJ University advertisements or enrolling for any of their programmes, ssaying: “Any person that does business with this institution does so at his/her own risk.”

“Educational institutions and employers are also advised to refer all academic and professional qualifications to NAB for determination of their respective statuses before accepting them for any form of admission/employment,” NAB said.

On Wednesday, Mukul Sangma, the chief minister of Meghalaya, hinted that the government may ask India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the CMJ University’s functioning.

“FIRs (First Information Reports) have been filed in different cities of the country. We are looking if the case should be handed over to a central agency,” Sangma told journalists after a cabinet meeting.

He said that the education department has held several meetings after the CMJ fiasco emerged, adding that additional rules would be introduced for running private universities in Meghalaya.

The university has created a record of sorts by awarding Ph.D. degrees to 434 candidates in the 2012-13 academic year and enrolling 490 students for the Ph.D. programme during 2012-2013, even as only 10 of its faculty members have doctorates.

“In good faith, the universities were given permission to operate, but some seem to have taken this for a ride and this is distressing,” Sangma added.

CMJ University hit media headlines following Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary – who is also the visitor of the university – exposing various irregularities in its functioning.

Meghalaya’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which is investigating the alleged lapses of CMJ University, has unearthed a number of irregularities in its functioning.

The CID has arrested the varsity’s registrar, Mrinal Kanti Deb, and his deputy Premlal Rai, on charges of fraud and cheating.

A lower court in Meghalaya Monday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Chandra Mohan Jha and his two associates, Manjeet Kaur and Juban Kharpuri, in connection with the alleged forgery and irregularities by the institution.

Jha has gone into hiding.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])

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