The University Grants Commission’s dossier of fake universities has been challenged by several states, which have pointed out that several institutes on the list do not even exist. The list has 23 names and is meant to flag universities that do not meet the requirements set for an institute to offer degree courses.

Bihar’s higher education council has accused the higher education body of tarnishing the state’s image by putting Maithili University or Vishwavidyalaya, Darbhanga on the list, which does not exist. SHEC Vice Chairman Kameshwar Jha said the institute stopped operating two decades ago. “When the institution was declared illegal over two decades ago, I don’t see any point in mentioning it on the fake list year after year. It only earns Bihar a bad name,” he said.

Uttar Pradesh, too, is not happy with the list. State officials told Hindustan Times that six universities attributed to the state on the list do not exist. With nine bogus institutes, the state accounts for the maximum number of fake universities on the list.

Maharashra is also among the states that have questioned the UGC list. The list includes Raja Arabic University in Nagpur, which is a residential madrassa and not a university. “We run a residential madrassa with 240 students,” said Maulana Mehmood Rizvi Khan, who heads the institute. He had apologised to the UGC for naming the institute as a university.

The list also has one St John University in Kerala, which is based out of a place that does not exist. “We have no idea about this. And nobody has registered any compliant,” said a bemused Kerala education ministry official.