ALAPPUZHA: Many Kerala artistes are crazy about D.Litts, and bogus overseas universities are making a quick buck cashing in on the trend. One of them is Kings University, Honolulu, Hawaii, that has “honoured” two award-winning dancers — Jayaprabha Menon and Sunanda Nair — with the so-called D.Litt. A fact check on their website found it has no approval by a recognised accrediting agency and its website is on org domain, instead of .edu which is limited to the US post-secondary institutions. According to the US education department, this limitation is effected to not just a particular programme, but the entire institution. In that case, the so-called Kings University is merely a shell company formed to exploit people longing to become a ‘doctor’.
The mission of Kings University, as put out on the website, is to “provide opportunities for quality studies in the fields of business administration for students who are adult professionals”. This newspaper on Sunday contacted Amanulla Vadakkangara, who claimed to be its Middle East coordinator based in Doha, as a D.Litt aspirant online. He admitted that this university was not accredited, but went on promising that he was able to get D. Litt in any discipline and asked to send a detailed profile on the email id firstname.lastname@example.org
When asked on what basis unrecognised university provides D.Litt, he revealed that it was only promoting distance education and private universities were allowed to offer such degrees. According to a local news report in Riyadh, the same university has conferred dozens of D.Litt degrees on several business magnates. Ms Menon, whose D. Litt certificate had gone viral on social media recently drawing flak from academics and art enthusiasts went on the back foot when this newspaper contacted.
According to her, the university had approached her with the offer in 2015 (in the same year she got the Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy Award for outstanding contribution to Mohiniyattam), and so she accepted it. She also said she had no idea about its accreditation. Meanwhile, Sunanda Nair, also a Mohiniyattam artiste, settled in the US, who got the Kalarathnam Puraskaram instituted by Kerala Kalamandalam last year, did not respond to an e-mail.
T.P. Sreenivasan, a former diplomat who had served in the US, feels the functioning of such bogus institutions was subservient to US’ flouted education system and subject to arbitrary rules. “Anybody can go and create a university in the US, and nobody cares about it,” he told this newspaper. “Currently, no government, either in the state or at the Centre, has a mechanism to tackle such long-standing menace.”...