The future of 150 students of a private art college in Kolkata’s Southern Avenue area hangs in the balance after it came to the students’ knowledge that their Bachelor’s degree was not recognised by the University Grants Commission (UGC). Students have been protesting for the past few days demanding the college authorities explain the status of the course.
The art college, Swar Sangam of Birla Institute for Visual and Performing Arts, on the seventh floor of Birla Academy (109, Southern Avenue Kolkata- 700029), started a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts under Meghalaya’s Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU) from 2014. According to the students, after their admission they came across several reports which questioned the validity of the degree conferred by MLCU — which they had conveyed to the Swar Sangam management. However, the college authorities assured them about the validity, claimed the students.
Meanwhile after passing out from the institute in 2017, Bimal Maiti along with seven other students of the institute sat for an entrance test for pursuing higher studies in the UGC-recognised Kalyani University. After clearing the test, they were called for a document verification. “Kalyani University cancelled our admission saying we hold an invalid degree,” said Maiti.
Maiti filed a writ petition in the Calcutta High Court seeking the court’s intervention to allow them to pursue the Master’s degree course. The court recently directed that the students do not hold a valid graduation degree. The court order stated that as per an UGC notice on June 7, 2012, MLCU is not allowed to grant degrees outside Meghalaya.
Following the judgement, students approached the institute’s principal Abesh Bivhor Mitra and the management of the college but the students said that the college authorities refused to meet them to discuss the matter at length. A student shot a video on July 10 outside the institute, in which the principal can be seen telling the students that they would hold a meeting with all three stakeholders and find a solution soon. The principal also talked about moving the division bench and the Supreme Court.
However, that failed to calm down the students who have no clue whatsoever about their future. Samir Rana, a student, who was set to appear for his final examination in July this year, said, “We spent lakhs of rupees these four years. But when we demand justification from the authorities, they called the police, who physically moved us while we were organising a protest.” Students also lodged a general diary, against the institution for “resorting to malpractices”, at the Rabindra Sarovar police station on July 10.
Classes are continuing at the institute though, with junior students and students of diploma course not wanting to join the protest. Another student Ayan Kundu said, “They (the college authorities) don’t care about our future, their only intention is to earn money.”
The Bengal Story tried to reach the principal and teachers at the institute several times for their comments, but there was no response. [We will update the story if the institute decides to respond].