Ethiopian branch of Indian college barred from registering new students

By Hadra Ahmed, IANS,

Addis Ababa : The Ethiopian branch of a private Indian college has been barred from registering new students for four distance learning programmes until it renews its accreditation with its partner institution in India. The existing students can, however, continue.

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The directive of the Higher Education Relevance & Quality Assurance Agency (HERQA) came as the Sri Sai College, which offers courses in administration, science and IT, and journalism , failed to present a renewed licence from its partner, Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), in January, an official told IANS.

SMU is a public-private funded university located in Gangtok in the northeastern Indian state of Sikkim. It was established in 1995 and is the first such university in the country. In addition to regular courses in IT, engineering, management, commerce, journalism and health sciences, SMU also provides distance education with partner schools all over the world.

Sri Sai was issued a licence to provide distance education from 2009 to 2012, according to the curriculum of its partner.

SMU was unable to get its licence renewed by the Indian government’s Distance Education Council (DEC) that accredits the educational institutions of the country, according to Sri Sai Dean Andegnaw Alemneh.

According to Alemneh, SMU went to court in India claiming that the Council did not evaluate the university or issue it the accreditation on time.

The court ruled in favour of SMU, saying it could continue offering its educational services until the council could run quality checks and issue the accreditation.

Sri Sai submitted a copy of the court’s decision to HERQA, which refused to consider any documents outside of an DEC accreditation.

“We do not tolerate accreditation inconsistencies from institutions engaged in cross- border distance education,” said Yeromnesh Ayele, HERQA’s director for accreditation equivalence and authentication of educational credentials.

“We gave them enough time to deliver their licence and it is not fair to students to provide education without quality assurances,” Ayele told IANS.

HERQA has been stringent with its application of accreditation rules. A couple of months ago, it ordered Zemen Management & Development Institute (ZDMI) to stop its services after discovering that its partner, Cambridge International College (CIC) of Britain, was not a recognized distance education provider.

Established in June 2008, as a sole proprietorship owned by Solomon Sileshi, ZDMI began offering under-graduate and post-graduate courses, mainly in the area of project management and business administration.

The Zemen institute was shut down on December 10, 2012, and instructed in February to transfer over 400 of its students to an authorised institution to complete their studies.

Sri Sai officials claim that SMU’s accreditation took time because the DEC was undergoing a restructuring at the time. The Sri Sai College of Distance Education is recognised as a study centre of the Karnataka State Open University.

(Hadra Ahmed can be contacted at [email protected])