It’s been a difficult year for the education sector. Parents & students are forced to choose the college/university amidst all these challenges. In a reiteration of its earlier guidelines, the UGC has once again reminded universities to refund the full fee if the cancelation is done before the due date.
COVID-19, the subsequent lockdown to contain its spread, measures taken to reduce the infections, etc. had impacted various walks of life. Many of them are inter-related and have a cascading effect, with one affecting another.
One of the major sectors that bore the brunt of the pandemic is the education sector. Ranging from admissions to conduct of classes, examinations, have all been fraught with numerous challenges. Other issues like loss of income, travel constraints, etc. also contributed to the travails of the education sector. Parents & students have not been able to make the right decision about admission into a particular college owing to the uncertainties due to the pandemic. Multiple instances of students changing their decisions & colleges refusing to refund the fee have been reported. It is in this context, the recent communication from the University Grants Commission (UGC) comes as a welcome relief.
UGC takes cognizance of the financial hardships and uncertainties around admissions
In its communication to the Vice-chancellors of all the Universities dated 17 December 2020, the UGC has reminded them about its earlier guidelines regarding the fees refund in case of cancellation of admission.
This reiteration was in reference to the guidelines issued during September 2020 stated “UGC Guidelines on Academic Calendar for the First year of Under-Graduate and Post Graduate Students of the Universities for the Session 2020-21 in view of COVID-19 Pandemic”.
In these guidelines, the UGC has recommended a refund of fees on account of cancellation of admission/migration of students in the first session of their Undergraduate or Postgraduate programme.
In wake of the uncertainties surrounding admissions into various educational institutions, there could be cases where-in the students might opt for a different educational institution at a later date. UGC took cognizance of this situation in the current scenario and has made provisions for facilitating any such changes specifically for this session. This was also done in recognition of the financial burden the parents have been going through due to lockdown and other related factors. As per these guidelines:
- The educational institutions need to make a full refund of fees for any cancellation of admission or migration.
- All the cancelations made prior to 30 November 2020, need to be considered.
- This extends to the first session of Undergraduate & Postgraduate programmes
- No cancellation fee is charged to the students for any migration/cancellation up to 30 November 2020
- Any cancellation or withdrawal of admission post this date but before 31 December 2020, is also eligible for a full refund. However, a processing fee not exceeding Rs.1000 could be deducted.
The new guidelines are related to the Academic Session in 2020-21
The UGC guidelines issued in September 2020, are a revision for an earlier set of guidelines issued in April 2020. In wake of the evolving COVID-19 situation in the country, UGC released the first set of guidelines in April’2020. These guidelines were titled, “UGC Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the Universities in View of COVID-19 Pandemic and Subsequent Lockdown” and focused on the ongoing academic year i.e. 2019-20, and the conduct of the examinations.
In view of the increasing COVID-19 cases, the Universities were not able to complete the examinations by July 2020, as proposed in the initial set of guidelines in April 2020. Therefore, UGC requested the expert committee to revisit the earlier guidelines. As per the revised guidelines released on 06 July 2020, the Universities were asked to make efforts to complete all pending examinations and conclude the 2019-20 academic year by September 2020.
In August 2020, the Expert Committee was requested to come up with a calendar for the upcoming academic session i.e. 2020-21, more specific to the matters related to the First year of the UG & PG programme.
Apart from the aforementioned guidelines regarding the refund of the fees for cancellation of admission/migration, the guidelines issued in September 2020 provide directions on starting of the academic sessions for 2020-21 and acceptance of admissions, schedule of classes, vacations/breaks, conduct on classes in line with COVID-19 social distancing norms, etc.
UGC indicates punitive action against those violating these guidelines
Despite the guidelines issued in September 2020, clearly indicating full refund of the fees in case of cancellation of admission/migration, UGC has noted that there have been many complaints, RTI applications, public grievances regarding the non-refund of the fee by the educational institutions.
Taking cognizance of these complaints, UGC has sent a recent communication to all the universities on 13 December 2020, reiterating the guidelines regarding the full refund of the fees. UGC observed that most of the complaints are from private, self-financing universities and deemed to be Universities.
The guidelines are required to be strictly adhered to and refusal to refund the fee by giving their own interpretation of these guidelines will be treated as a violation by UGC. The universities found violating these guidelines will be liable for punitive action.
The punitive actions are mentioned in Clause 5 of UGC’s Notification on Refund of Fees and Non-Retention of Original Certificates, issued during October’2018. Factly had earlier written in detail about UGC’s refund rules.
The recent notification comes at a critical time when efforts are being made to begin the new academic session. The guidelines make the stand of UGC clear and in no uncertain times. This would immensely help parents to make a decision on the university for their children without having to worry about the non-refund of the fees.
The UGC could place in the public domain a few instances of where punitive action was taken to lend credence to these guidelines and deter any institutions from violating the guidelines.
Featured Image: UGC Admission Cancelation