New Delhi: A total of 22 'fake' universities are running in the country, with a maximum of 9 in Uttar Pradesh, 5 in Delhi and rest in Maharashtra, West Bengal and other states, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Stating that states have been asked to initiate action against these, Irani said that the Ministry is in the process of writing to Ministry of External Affairs to seek a list of all fake varsities and institutions abroad so that students do not get trapped and duped.
"As per information available with the UGC, there are 22 universities (in the country) which have been listed in the UGC list of fake universities and are functioning in contravention or violation of the UGC Act, 1956 in different parts of the country," Irani said.
Besides Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, there are two in West Bengal and one each in Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Odisha, she said.
Replying to questions, she brushed aside charges that the Centre was washing its hands off in taking action against such varsities, saying the government had fulfilled its duties in informing the state governments for action against the concerned.
"Law and order is a state issue and only states can take action as per federal structure. No state government has so far said it is not taking action against such universities and have instead shown inclination of taking action," she said.
Irani said the regulator on its part has started a portal "KnowYourCollege" and a mobileApp providing details about universities and colleges so that gullible students are not duped such fake institutions. There is also an inbuilt mechanism for redressal in this portal.
She said if complaints come to the regulator, then the UGC also acts against such complaints.
"We are also making attempts to have direct interaction with students besides this 'KnowYourCollege' portal to help students identify fake universities," she said.
"It is an endeavour to persistently act on injustices meted out to our students through such fake institutions through protection given by the regulator," she said, asking members to share information on fake institutions with UGC.
Irani said there are universities abroad which try to mislead Indian students and "We are in the process of writing to MEA to ensure that all missions are appealed to give us a list of fake universities or institutions overseas so that we can apropriately inform our states to help students not get duped by such institutions."
To a question on foreign tie-ups and off-campus centres, she said, "Many universities have tried to set up off-campus centres which are unauthorised and UGC has taken cognisance of this fact and ordered shutdown of illegal off-campus centres."
With regard to fake universities tying up in order to Indianise education by trying up with a foreign partner, she said UGC gives an opportunity for a twinning programme only when there is an Indian partner that makes a disclosure to the regulator that such an arrangement can be facilitated.