KNRUHS asks medical students to cough up Rs 3 lakh bond amount

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To deter students from leaving a medical or dental college midway , the Kaloji Narayana Rao University of Health Sciences(KNRUHS), which is conducting counselling on behalf of Telangana, is now demanding a bond of `3 lakh from students as an assurance that they will complete the course. According to officials, every year, 50% of the dental seats and, on an average, about 60 medical seats are blocked by students but later converted into management quota as they drop out. Meanwhile, in government colleges, these seats remain vacant as there is no provision of converting convenor quota seats into seats of other categories.

“We have observed that students are allotted seats and then they drop out. This is depriving other meritorious students of seats. Last year, out of 300 seats in BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) courses in the state, nearly 180 students did not join college even after the classes started,” said B Karunakar Reddy , vice-chancellor, KNRUHS, adding that 16 of the 100 dental seats at the Govern ment Dental College too remained vacant last year due to the same reason.

Reddy further added that they faced the same problem while filling up post-graduate medical seats and cited it as the main reason for the bond amount being increased from the existing `1lakh to `3 lakh. “After the last phase of counselling, about 30 PG students paid `5 lakh each and left the course mid-way . So now, those deciding to opt out of the medical or dental degree course after securing an admission, will have to personally come and explain to the varsity their reasons for not continuing with the course. Only if the varsity is satisfied with the reason, can the students opt out,” Reddy said.

A varsity source, on condition of anonymity , also highlighted how a few private colleges pick candidates that they know have already secured seats in other states and make them give up these seats a day or two before the deadline so that they can convert them into management quota and make more money.

Colleges, on the other hand, said that increasing the bond amount will not make any difference as the candidates, who are ready to pay `1lakh, will not think twice about paying three times more.

“I don’t see how this is going to make any difference. The varsity is just taking money from students and doing business. Moreover, if someone feels that the managements of medical and dental colleges are using students to block seats, this bond amount will not be enough to prevent such practices as it is much less than what these colleges can rake in by converting these seats into other categories,” said Lakshmi Narasimha Rao, president, Telangana Private Medical College Association.

Our software can be breached: Prometric

The US-based company that conducted the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) — held to admit students into postgraduate medical courses in December, 2016 — has admitted that their software “can be breached”. The company, Prometric, told this to the Delhi Police via teleconference, as part of the investigations into alleged hacking of the examination software, which allowed students to cheat.

The 20-page chargesheet, prepared by the central range of the Crime Branch, also states that the accused planned the hacking way in advance — even telling aspirants which examination centre to pick so they could cheat. As first reported by The Indian Express, the Delhi Police had arrested four people in connection with the case, and established that the servers used to conduct the examination were hacked. The chargesheet also states that supervisors of two examination centres in Chandigarh and Greater Noida, where the exam was held, helped some students cheat.

In the course of their investigations, police found that the exam-controlling body, the National Board of Examination (NBE), had given the contract to conduct NEET PG (2017) to M/S Prometric Testings Pvt Ltd. “They had sub-contracted with CMS IT Services Pvt Ltd to hire engineers, site supervisors and other staff to prepare exam labs and for actually conducting the NEET (PG) examinations at various exam centres from December 5 to December 13. Later, CMS IT Services Pvt Ltd had further tied up with M/S Apex Services to provide manpower and technical staff at the examination centres,” police stated in their chargesheet.

Police said the “agents and sub-agents” were active through the year in search of candidates ready to give money for a good rank. “After finding such candidates, the sub-agents informed senior agents, who had direct links either with the candidates or their parents. These agents were in constant touch with site supervisors, engineers and officials, who got posted at examination centres. They only advised the candidates or their parents to choose a particular examination centre,” a senior officer said.

In its chargesheet, police mentioned that M/S Prometric Testings Pvt Ltd failed to identify the alleged software — Ammyy Admin, which had been used by the accused to hack the exam. “The alleged persons, including site-supervisors, engineers and senior officials, managed to break open the security system of Prometric and, unlike other students, their selected candidates got internet access on their exam computers, which helped them to connect remotely with some other computer outside the examination hall,” police said.

Police found that a site-supervisor of the Chandigarh centre used the software to put students in touch with agents outside, who would then solve the papers and pass them to the students.

Tampered computers gave NEET-PG applicants a lifeline

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The Crime Branch of the Delhi Police has filed a charge sheet in the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Satish Kumar Arora here against officials of Prometric Testing Pvt Ltd, hired by the National Board of Examinations (NBE), to conduct the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) in November 2016 for admissions to post graduate medical courses.

Nearly one lakh students appeared for the PG entrance examination, competing for 35,117 post graduate seats across the country.

Remote access given

According to the charge sheet, accessed by The Hindu, computers at the examination centres managed by Prometric were compromised. In some cases, select computers were installed with a remote, screen sharing software, Ammy, allowing ‘solvers’ outside to select the correct answers for the students.

In other instances, site supervisors, engineers and officials deployed by Promteric tampered with the security system and ensured that select candidates got access to the Internet by connecting remotely to another computer outside the examination hall, the police said.

The Crime Branch is investigating officials of Prometric and the National Board of Examinations (NBE). The charge sheet states that the involvement of “officials at the National Board of Examinations and Promterics” cannot be ruled out.

Sources in the Crime Branch said a list of 500 students has been prepared in a supplementary charge sheet.

Investigations revealed that the NBE contracted Prometric, which then sub-contracted the conducting of the tests to yet another company, CMS IT Services Pvt Ltd for engineering and support staff. CMS IT Services further contracted out the hiring of local vendors for staff at various examination centres.

“In this way, the selection of suitable staff for the exam seems to be compromised and the security and sincerity of the exam was breached,” the charge sheet says.

According to the charge sheet, the aspirants paid between ₹2.5 to 3 lakh to access the Internet during the exam. In one centre in Chandigarh, the site supervisor, one Ankur Mishra (named in the charge sheet) and hired by CMS IT Services, left slips with answers for select candidates.

The NBE is also under investigation for hiring Promteric, an American company, without inviting tenders from other companies. The Crime Branch says Prometric’s staff reformatted the computers and destroyed evidence after the exam.

Echoes of Vyapam

Dr Anand Rai, whistle blower in the Madhya Pradesh medical entrance examination, better known as the VYAPAM scam, and a complainant in the present case said, “The NBE handed over the contract to Promteric without inviting tenders. Promteric has admitted to formatting evidence on the computers [after the NEET], which should have been maintained for a minimum of five years. This is a gross violation of the Indian Evidence Act.”

Soumitra Roy, Country Manager, Prometric India said the company was “not aware of any such development” adding, “We proactively continue to support the authorities in their investigation.”

PG admission: HC seeks 4 Pondy medical colleges replies

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The Madras High Court today asked four medical colleges affiliated to deemed universities in Puducherry to file an affidavit citing reasons for refusing admissions to students under the state quota, despite its June 16 order.

A bench of Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan directed the medical colleges in the Union Territory and CENTAC (Centralised Admission Committee) to file their replies by July 3, on the contempt plea by one V B R Menon in connection with admissions to Post Graduate medical courses in the union territory

The issue pertains to the PIL alleging that the deemed universities were refusing to admit students through common counselling in the state quota and were demanding fees of Rs 40 to 50 lakh as against Rs 5.5 lakh fixed by the statutory fee committee for self-financing colleges.

Admitting the plea, the bench headed by Chief Justice Indira Banerjee had passed an interim order on June 16 directing the universities to admit candidates provisionally selected for admission to PG medical courses through common counselling by taking Rs 10 lakh as fee.

When the matter came up today, the petitioner alleged that the universities have failed to obey the interim order and sought initiation of contempt proceedings against the managements of the colleges concerned. The petitioner also alleged that the actual list of students admitted by the respective colleges would show that the colleges had actually admitted students with lower NEET scores as well as those who have not undergone the common counselling in places of those issued provisional admissions by CENTAC.

Hence, seats allotted to students as per the CENTAC list, based on merit and common counselling on various dates had illegally been diverted by the colleges to less meritorious students in gross violation to the statutory provisions, he said.

The petitioner sought punishment for the universities for wilful disobedience of the court order and for causing mental agony to the affected students.

High court nixes PG medical merit list, asks TN to redo it in 3 days

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The Tamil Nadu government’s attempt to placate government doctors aspiring for post-graduate medical courses by declaring all the 174 public health centres (PHCs) remote difficult, to award them incentive marks, boomeranged on Friday with the Madras high court nullifying much of the admissions completed a fortnight ago. It has given the state government three days to redo the merit list.

Calling the admission process flawed and slamming the government for complete nonapplication of mind, a division bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice R Suresh Kumar said: “To our minds, a hillyrural area can be a remote andor difficult area, but every hillyrural area need not, necessarily, be a remote andor difficult area.”

Holding that the merit list, dated May 7, was completely flawed, the bench said weightage granted to in-service candidates who worked in areas notified as in List A, B and C alone would be spared. “Given the urgency in the matter, the state government will reconfigure the merit within 3 days, and act accordingly,” said the bench.

While List A public health centres (PHCs) are those coming under the directorate of public health, List B and C pertain to PHCs and government hospitals, respectively, under directorate of medical and rural health services (DM&RHS). State health secretary J Radhak rishnan said the state would move the Supreme Court against the or der. “We followed Medical Council of India guidelines during the admission process. It will be difficult for us to redo the admission as deadline for admissions ended on May 31,” he said.

Referring to the near-total takeover of all available PG medical seats over of all available PG medical seats by doctors in government service, the bench said it was startled by the admission statistics presented to it. “PG degree course, which comprises of 24 specialties, admitted 700 in-service candidates, as against 34 non-service candidates in government colleges.The position was no better with regard to the self-financing colleges, in which, 124 in-service candidates were admitted, as against 19 non-service candidates,” the bench said.

“Unless the state government is able to demonstrate that the PHCs, which are located in rural areas can be classified as remote andor difficult areas, no weightage could have been given to the in-service candidates, who have rendered service in such PHCs,” the court said.

As for PG diploma course at government colleges, for 15 specialty courses, 299 in-service candidates were admitted, as against 33 non-service candidates. In self-financing colleges, 11in-service candidates were admitted, whereas, only 5 non-service candidates were admitted.

When the state argued that incentives were given to encourage doctors to work in rural areas, the bench said: “While there is no gain saying that incentives have to be given, to ensure that, in the very least, primary health care is made available in remote and or difficult areas, it cannot be done in a manner, that it completely erodes merit. Our sense of the matter is, in the instant case, merit has been given a complete go-by.” In the Nilgiris, the district head quarters hospital located at Ooty cannot be described as remote or difficult area by any stretch of imagination, the judges said, adding that similarly Othakadai in Madurai could not qualify to be a remote or difficult area since it is outskirts of Maudrai city. In fact, the Madurai bench of the high court itself was located there, the bench said. This demonstrates complete non-application of mind by the state government, it said.

“While the intention of the policy formulators was to reach a noble or just goal, the result reached in the instant case shows that the opposite happened. It is palpably clear that in this case, the manner in which the state government has exercised its powers to identify remote and/or difficult areas, by design or otherwise, has led to unfair and inequitable results,” the judges said.

No takers for 74 PG medical courses

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There are no takers for 74 post-graduation (PG) medical academic courses in government medical colleges in the state. The seats have gone waste as the candidates showed more interest in clinical branches rather than opting for non-clinical branches— biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and preventive & social medicines (PSM). Branches like anatomy and physiology provide opportunities to candidates to enter teaching in medical courses, but the candidates have showed no interest in these branches.

Even in Sawai Man Singh Medical College, 12 seats of PG courses are lying vacant after completion of mop up round of state medical PG seats allotment-2017.

The mop up round was completed on May 31. The office of the chairman, NEET PG medical admission/counselling board-2017 mentioned that the last date of admission was May 31 and that will remain unchanged by direction of the Centre.

“Even though the government has not made signing of bond of Rs 25 lakh compulsory for these non-clinical branches, the candidates have not opted for these branches. In other branches, if a candidate completes his PG course and he does not work for five year in government service, he will have to pay Rs 25 lakh. But this year, the government waived off bond for anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, PSM, physiology and forensic medicine, it has made no change in choice of candidates,” said Dr Jitendra Bagaria, a candidate who could have opted for any of these branches but he did not do so.

He said he is preparing for NEET so that he will get better ranking in merit list and get clinical branch. “The government should think about it, why candidates are not opting for it. Those candidates completing their PG in clinical branches get postings accordingly, but, if a candidate completes PG in anatomy, he will not go to a primary health centre as the job in the PHC is not according to his qualification. The government should make provisions to give posting to these PG doctors in medical colleges,” Dr Bagaria said.

Besides, the candidates also suggested that the government should have lowered down the cut off for mop up counselling further so that those who are ineligible for taking part in counselling would become eligible and they would take up these branches, which have gone waste.

In Bikaner’s medical college eight seats have gone waste, in Jodhpur 11, in Udaipur 4, in Ajmer 13, in Kota 7 and in Jhalawar 17 seats of PG courses have gone waste this year.

NBE is compromising super speciality medical education in India

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Guest article by Edmond Fernandes.

“NBE should rise up to engage and mature with the medical community which continues to re-discover itself through the extra-ordinary school of experience, learning daily from the corridors of a medical ward, interacting with communities and inspiring hope and faith in life, every day. NBE must instil supernatural confidence into the minds of young medical doctors and build capacity among ordinary working people to change the course of human history.”  – Edmond Fernandes , CEO, Center for Health and Development (CHD Group)

 After having studied the website of National Board of Examinations (NBE), I learnt that it was set up in 1975 with the prime objective of improving the quality of medical education by putting in place standards of post graduate examinations in modern medicine and by raising by the bar, on a pan-India basis. Today medical education in India is messy, be it for undergraduate, post graduate or so-called super speciality branches. To make matters worse, we have NBE which is a place where paradoxes reign supreme. NBE does not provide a national vision any more with international partnerships, smart ideas and the capacity to nurture the same at institutions by bringing in aptitude, communication and scrutinizing the CV. From 1975 till date, the model of examination is merely rot-learning. Those who wish to leave India to settle abroad, end up engaging in research, working with organisations to enhance their CV because in the west, collecting degrees or cracking examination is not the only criterion for suitability at good medical schools or high offices. Quality is judged from different parameters which focus on an inclusive individuality, not merely on NBE way of life.

Dilemmas galore

A doctor aspiring for a super speciality seat in MCH-Surgical Oncology can be eligible if the doctor has done MS- Ortho/Surgery/ENT/Gynaecology. How can a person who has done Orthopaedics who essentially deals with bones or an ENT Surgeon now be competent enough to deal with any kind of surgical cancers without having done a regular General Surgery or at least Fellowship of not less than two years duration ?

Likewise, for a DM- Cardiology, a doctor who has done MD-General Medicine/Paediatrics/ Pulmonology can qualify, which does not make complete sense because a person from a paediatric or pulmonology background without adequate exposure of Adult Medicine, other than the exposure obtained during MBBS days would not be the most competent. At least a fellowship programme of one year must be mandated.

Having given the basic differences that is existing and in contrast, it is worthwhile to note that MD-Community Medicine candidates cannot be eligible for DM – Infectious Disease/Cardiology and Neurology as per the current NBE trend.

Another fascinating thing about NBE is that different candidates from different eligible PG branches are given their own percentiles and no merit list is published by NBE. DNB-Super Speciality exams are held separately and NEET-Super speciality exam are held separately and this should be standardized at the earliest in order to create level playing fields.

DNB-Community Medicine

It is absolutely ridiculous that the powers that be in DNB have never introduced DNB – Community Medicine as a full-time course and rather have willingly offered DNB- Community Medicine after doing an MD- Community Medicine. Barring one or two institutes in the country, DNB-Community Medicine is not a full-time course when in-fact, the clinical material at District Hospitals, Community Health Centres (CHCs), Primary Health Centres (PHC’s) is beyond measure and the work force could have been easily utilized for the same.

Community Medicine is the heart of the very health systems and DNB has never been able to understand the philosophy of Community Medicine which exposes a pernicious under-belly of compromise. At a time when the world converges to strengthen community medicine and public health, the indifference within the DNB is palpable. Perhaps an Arab Spring in Health care for India needs to happen urgently, only then the decision makers wake up to engage, to dialogue and to change the processes that urgently seek change.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

SC asks Haryana to consider in-service doctors for PG courses

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The Supreme Court today said that admission to post graduate medical diploma courses in Haryana should be made on the merit of in-service doctors who have completed three years service in remote and difficult areas.

A vacation bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and Deepak Gupta clarified that those candidates, who under the Medical Council of India (MCI’s) Post Graduate Medical Education Regulations 2000 have obtained a no objection certificate from the state government, shall be considered for admission to 50 per cent seats.

“In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the present case, we are of the view that the submission made by Gaurav Sharma (MCI’s counsel) that the admission to post graduate diploma courses, on 50 per cent posts, should be made on the merit of in-service doctors who have completed three years service needs to be accepted,” the bench said.

The bench further clarified that “only those candidates, under regulation 9 (VII), for against 50 per cent seats, shall be considered who have given their application and obtained no objection certificate from the state of Haryana”.

“From the aforesaid candidates, who have obtained no objection certificate, admission shall be made on the basis of merit of NEET for 50 per cent diploma seats,” it said.

During the hearing, the bench was informed that mop-up counselling for admission is scheduled on June 9.

It directed that a fresh counselling be conducted on June 9 and if not completed on June 10, the seats falling under 50 per cent quota in PG diploma courses, shall be filled by giving opportunities to candidates who have obtained no objection certificate.

The bench also noted that as on date, the Haryana government has not notified any list of difficult or remote areas which can be utilised for giving weightage to the candidates.

“The object and purpose of giving 50 per cent seats in post graduate diploma courses is to give incentive and encouragement to those in-service doctors who have rendered their service in the remote and/or difficult areas,” it said.

The order came on a petition filed by in-service doctors who have applied for admission in PG degree and diploma courses in Haryana.

They have claimed that having rendered service in remote or difficult areas, they were entitled for the weightage as admissible under regulation 9 and despite apex court’s May 25 order, no list for remote and difficult areas was notified by the state.

The petitioners said that counselling was conducted on May 31, June 6 and June 7 for admissions in PG courses.

Referring to the regulation 9, they said it envisaged a weightage to those in-service doctors who have rendered their services in difficult or remote areas, and they were deprived of this statutory weightage despite having served in such areas.

The state government countered their submissions saying that after the May 25 order of the apex court, the time was “too short to collect the necessary data and issue a list” and therefore, it decided not to give weightage under regulation 9 and admissions have been conducted on the basis of merit in degree and diploma courses.

Fee row: PG medical candidates write to PM

 

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The candidates who have cleared NEET examination for PG medical seats but have been denied admissions by the colleges have have written to Prime Minster Narendra Modi to take necessary action. They resorted to this step as the assurances made by ministers and repeated representations to Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi failed to yield results.

The candidates who got seats under government quota through Centralised Admission Committee (Centac) including N. Sumitha (General Surgery), S. Rehana (Radio Diagnosis), K. Thambiprabagarane (Ophthalmology), Siva Sankar. P. (Ophthalmology) have been denied admissions.

Pondicherry State Students and Parents Welfare Association has alleged in the letter that the majority of the 114 candidates who were allotted seats in three self-financed institutions and four deemed universities have not joined. “Only those students who have paid ₹40 lakh, agreed to stay in hostel or signed a bond to work for five years after the course have been admitted in the colleges,” said a candidate.

A self-financed institution has denied admission to a candidate, who had approached the Madras High Court seeking justice, stating that they have not received demand draft (DD) despite the candidate submitting the DD at Centac.

Candidates who had remitted the fees on time were not allowed to join the institutions on the pretext that they had delayed payment of the additional amount after the Fee Committee hiked the fee structure from ₹3 lakh to ₹5.5 lakh.

The candidates have appealed to the Prime Minister to take necessary action and ensure the students join the courses before June 7 as it is the last date of submitting the list of candidates to the Medical Council of India.

Illegal ‘PG degrees’ plague emergency medicine

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You might shell out big bucks when wheeled into the emergency ward of a large private hospital, but do you also get the best trained doctors in emergency medicine?

Most of these hospital emergency departments are staffed with MBBS graduates lured into illegal courses that claim to be giving a master’s in emergency medicine (MEM). From the number of patients they get to see, to the quality of faculty who train them, a number of questions have been raised. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has notified all such courses as illegal and hence not to be registered as additional qualification.

The MCI and the National Board of Examination (NBE) have strict criteria regarding how large a patient load an emergency department needs to start postgraduate specialisation in the discipline, and a highly competitive entrance exam to get a seat. Preying on the insecurity of those unable to clear such exams are a plethora of supposed MEM programmes offered by various hospitals that masquerade as postgraduate degree courses.

The two main MEM programmes offered include one by the Society of Emergency Medicine of India (SEMI), and the other by various corporate hospitals in conjunction with George Washington University (GWU) in the US. SEMI president Dr T S Srinath Kumar says they don’t claim to give a postgraduate degree.

“Our MEM is just a certificate given by SEMI. It is the MEM given by GWU that the MCI declared illegal, not ours,” he said. While he claims that SEMI-MEMs will be phased out by 2020, they started the course in 15 more hospitals last year and six more this year. Currently, about 86 centres are churning out about 350 MEMs each year. There are 79 seats for MD in emergency medicine in 28 medical colleges, and 248 DNB (Diplomate of National Board) seats for it in 50 institutions .

In the case of the MEM offered through a tie-up with GWU, the numbers have gone up from three centres to 11, with as many as 6-10 students in each centre – about 100 MEMs a year. About 74 doctors from eight centres got a GWU-MEM in 2016. Students are being charged Rs 4 lakh to 6 lakh per year as fees. Though they promote it as a postgraduate master’s programme of an American university on their website, the fine print says that the ‘degree’ is not recognised in the US.

The MCI does not allow parallel courses in colleges with MD (postgraduate course) seats to prevent students’ training from getting diluted. However, many hospitals and medical colleges running DNB courses are also running MEM courses. For instance, Peerless Hospital in Kolkata has four DNB seats, for which the requisite patient load is 6,000-10,000 annually (16-27 patients per day. It is also running the GWU-MEM with about 12 seats. So the faculty and the patient load meant to teach the 12 (4×3) DNB students is being used to teach an additional 36 MEM students since it is a three-year course. This severely limits the quality of the DNB training. This is happening in several institutions where MEM courses are being run along with DNB, though the NBE is categorical that it “does not allow concurrent administration of any programme with DNB Emergency Medicine”.

In many of the institutions running both DNB and MEM, faculty qualification too is an issue. Unlike the MCI, inspection reports of hospitals given DNB seats are not in the public domain. Hence, one does not know if the faculty counted during inspection and those shown on the hospital website are the same.

On hospital websites, most of the ‘faculty’ in the emergency departments have qualifications like MEM or even diploma in emergency medicine, which are not qualifications recognised by the MCI, the medical regulator of the country. The NBE spokesperson told: “MEM qualification has never been accepted as an eligible qualification for being DNB Emergency Medicine faculty. There is no approved faculty in any NBE accredited department with MEM qualification.”

However, in MIMS, Kozhikode, which has 8 DNB seats for emergency medicine, Dr PP Venugopalan is shown as faculty for both DNB and GWU-MEM, which has 10 seats. Barring him, no other emergency department faculty has any qualification other than MEM going by the hospital website. Dr Venugopalan also does not accept that GWU-MEM is illegal. “We have filed for reversal in the MCI and we have the course running in five hospitals of our group,” said Dr Venugopalan . However, MCI president Dr Jayshree Mehta told that the MCI had alerted the public at large not to enrol themselves in such courses and declared these courses “unrecognised and unauthorised” and therefore “not legal”.