Mumbai: An exclusive investigation carried out by News18 has uncovered the dark side of education institutions where degrees are on sale.
A team of undercover reporters approached some agents who claimed they would provide us educational degrees without attending classes or appearing for examinations.
The team met Swapnil Gaikwad, who claimed to be an agent of Key Education Consultancy in Navi Mumbai’s Koparkhairane. He agreed to get us a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree backdated to 2016.
Gaikwad told us that he can provide degrees from two well-known universities – these include Yashwantrao Chavan University and Solapur University, both of which are approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
Gaikwad said the entire process would take 45 days. Scanned copies of the educational degrees would be showed to us in 30 days and the hard copies handed over within the next 10-15 days.
What is even more shocking is that the candidate is not required to attend classes or visit the university — everything is already done since it is backdated, said Gaikwad. The main thing is to add these forged documents to the university’s records, he added.
When we raised doubts about the authenticity of the degree, Gaikwad tried to convince us by saying, "It's an original certificate, along with the records. It's available for verification."
We were also offered degrees in engineering, LLB and Ph.D from different universities — the charges for them vary. The amount charged for an engineering degree was Rs 75,000 for a course of three years. We had to pay half the amount as advance and the rest upon receiving the scanned and hard copies.
The Ph.D degree offered was from the Andhra University — we were told that the thesis and synopsis will also be provided. Gaikwad told that he could get us a law degree for Rs 2 lakh from a University in Uttar Pradesh.
According to a whistleblower, an increase in the number of universities is the major reason that has led to the expansion of the degree market.
"Every university has a target. Some universities are doing well, some are average performing, and some are doing badly. To fulfil the target of universities doing badly, these centres have been established. These centres play as the marketing partners of the university and sell the certificates. It’s a win-win situation for both -- the candidate gets certificate and the university gets admissions," said the whistleblower.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) on Thursday took cognisance of the investigation and directed the UGC to immediately constitute a high-level committee to inquire into the allegations.
In response to media reports, the Human Resource Development Ministry has ordered UGC to immediately constitute a high level committee to enquire into the allegations regarding sale of fake degrees by certain universities. @PMOIndia @DrRPNishank @subrahyd @ugc_india— Ministry of HRD (@HRDMinistry) August 29, 2019
"The committee is required to complete its inquiry within three weeks and identify institutions and individuals that have resorted to such illegal practices so that strict action can be taken against all concerned," it further said.
Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said he has instructed the concerned institutions to conduct strict investigation. "Whoever is guilty, strict action will be taken against them," he wrote on Twitter.