UGC letter of refund of fee

Letter No.
SKG/UGC/001 08 Jan 2017

Prof (Dr.) Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Secretary,

University Grants Commission,

Bahadur Shah Zagar
Marg, *Speed
Post+Email*
New Delhi-110002.

Sir,

Refer: D.O No. 1-3/2007/(CPP-II) dated 6th December 2016.

Reg: New Fee Refund Guidelines for withdrawal cases.

Issued in the name of safeguarding interest of students the above referred
notification has replaced the earlier fee refund notification dated dater 23
rd April 2007.

Inter alia the notification purports to safeguard the interest of students
and contains following language:
“However, the considerable number of complaints, grievances, court cases
and other references received by UGC on various coercive and shady dealings
carried out by HEIs reflect that profiteering motivations still drive the
operation of quite a few institutions in India. The reason behind the
proliferation of such malpractices can be many, including absence of an
effective and robust policy regime. However, what is most disturbing about
the dismal scenario is that students are at the receiving end of this
malaise. The Commission has earlier notified University Grants Commission
(Grievance Redressal) Regulations, 2012 on redressal of multifarious
grievances of students. But given the sheer volume of the complaints
regarding non-refund of fees and retention of original certificates by…”

To prohibit coercive and profiteering institutional practices in the
matters related to verification of certificates and testimonials at the
time of admission, remittance of fees and refund thereof in case of
cancellation of admission and other such student-centric issues.”

However the notification suffers from several infirmities which would
definitely invite much more litigation and work to the advantage of HEIs
defeating its basic purpose. An RTI was filed wide number *UGCOM/R/2016/55515
to know certain basic issues emanating from the notification but
information denied. *We hereby try to bring to your notice following
primary vagueness confirming that notification is not comprehensive and
does not cover all aspects relating to fee refund in a sufficient manner
and requires review before mis-interpretation can take its toll:

Earlier circular has made a clear cut distinction and linked the refund
with the start date of course whereas current notification has linked it to
the “*formally notified last date of admission*”. Determining start date of
admission is much easier – once the course is started the fact can easily
be proved with attendance records. Whereas in case of private Universities
establishing a formally notified date of admission would really be a
challenging situation as University may keep on admitting students even
after “formally notified date of admission” or keep on changing the date,
on which UGC has no control. In such a situation where admissions takes
place even after formally notified date – what will happen? Which date will
be counted? A University can always declare one date as notified last date
and without changing it may continue admitting students beyond that?
Earlier even if a student withdraws after joining he was entitled for
proportionate refund if sanctioned strength is admitted in the course.
While in cases where he only reserves the seat and does not join at all
only Rs.1000/- was to be deducted. However, as per new guidelines a minimum
10% of fee University can deduct in the name of processing fee even for
withdrawal much before start of course, that too on aggregate fee. Suppose a student deposits Rs.50,000/- as advance with a University in April to secure admission against a semester fee of Rs.1,50,000/- for
session to begin in July. Now if the student sends withdrawal

application to University in May – he would suffer a deduction of
R.15,000/- (i.e. 10% of Rs.1,50,000/-) against a sum of Rs.1000/- as per
earlier rules. The deduction of 10% on aggregate fee, as per new
notification, is very high as compared to the amount prescribed in earlier
notification. The concept of aggregate fee is new one and is biased in
favour of Universities without any apparent rationale. The new system does
not specify anything about *Hostel fee* nor *define aggregate fee,* leaving
a potential scope for litigation. There are several elements of one-time
fee student has to pay at the time of admission – will it form part of
aggregate fee? Further in new system, the student loses 100% money if he
withdraws after 30 days of last date of admission even if the University is
operating at above the sanctioned strength. The notification does not
specify what will happen if a University admits student even after last
date of admission. This move is definitely not in favour of students.

In most of the cases HEIs start admission campaign much earlier and take
advance from student to reserve the seat. After payment of advance fee
student has to appear in college on the day of admission with balance fee &
documents to register himself as a student. Under earlier system if a
student who has paid advance fee does not appear for registration on the
start date of course he was not treated as student admitted and was
eligible for refund of whole sum with a deduction of Rs.1000/-. Now under
new regulation even if a student does not come for admission on start of
course he would face deduction of 10% of *aggregate fee* – which is much
higher than Rs.1000/- because the refund is linked to “notified last date
of admission”. Maximum number of refund happens just before start of course
because students keep on evaluating various options available to him. But
under new regulations refund is de-linked with start date of course
creating problem for students and restricting their choice.

Following unanswered questions emerge from the new notification:

(i) Will one-time/annual fee paid at the time of admission would
fall within the meaning of aggregate fee? In case where student has paid
part of the semester fee and withdraws one month before the last date –
whether University would deduct processing fee of 10% of aggregate fee or
the amount paid by student?

(ii) The deduction slab for refund is applicable on semester fee or
annual fee?

(iii) What if a University takes admission even after notified last
date of admission?

(iv) The notification only covers refund application submitted *up to
less* than 30 days from formally notified last date of admission AND refund
application submitted *after* 30 days from formally notified last date of
admission. As such it does not cover refund applications submitted on 30th
day from formally notified last date of admission. So what will happen to
those applications?

(v) Is it a correct interpretation if a student applied 10 days
before the notified last date of admission he would face 30% deduction on
aggregate fee?

It is extremely surprising that such a vital information which is going to
impact lakhs of students across India has been summarily not provided under
RTI showing extreme apathy. Instead of looking into the issue and providing
requisite information it is stated that notification is self-explanatory –
where as there are several unanswered questions in it.

Since admission season has just begun timely insertion of
corrections/clarifications into the notification would save a lot of
hardships to poor families those sacrifice everything for payment of hefty
fee to HEIs or take the burden of bank loans on their heads. We sincerely
apply for a thorough review of the notification for the sake of lakhs of
families who would suffer if ambiguities concerning fee refund are not
removed.

Thanking you. Please acknowledge.

Yours faithfully,

(S K Goyal)

General Secretary – Dwarka Forum

D-103, Shivam Apartment,

Plot-14, Sector-12, Dwarka,

N*ew Delhi-110078. *

Copy to: minister.hrd@gov.inpstohrm@gov.in

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