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Himachal HC allows regulation of admission to private universities

Pooja Mathur | July 25, 2014 | Prepsure.

In a major setback to 16 private universities and an equal number of private technical institutes in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court has refused to intervene in the state’s mechanism to regulate their admission process.

Dismissing petitions of the Himachal Private Universities Management Association and the Private Technical Institution’s Association, a division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan Wednesday said: “The impugned measures providing for admission on the basis of combined entrance test (CET) are reasonable.”

The bench, which had reserved the judgment July 8, said the “fixation of fee is a policy matter and lies solely within the domain of the respondents (government and Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission). Even otherwise, this court lacks expertise to determine what should be the fees for different kinds of courses”.

Though the petitioners have claimed various relief in their petitions, the court said that during the course of arguments, the petitioners confined their claim for issuance of writ of mandamus directing the state to allow the institutions to fill the seats.

The petitioners contended that earlier they were permitted to admit students in technical courses in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

It was provided that in case some seats remain vacant after counselling, these would be filled by adhering to the criteria prescribed by the AICTE.

The state-run Himachal Pradesh Technical University in Hamirpur issued fresh guidelines Dec 6, 2013 for admission to B.Tech, B.Pharma, MCA, MBA, M.Tech and M.Pharma courses for the session 2014-15 and the petitioners cannot admit students either on their own or through any other agencies, they pleaded.

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HP HC dismisses plea against merit based admission through common test

July 25, 2014 | Zee News |

Shimla: In a setback to private universities and technical institutions in the state, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday dismissed their plea against merit-based admissions through common entrance test and regulation of fee structure. Dismissing two separate petitions of Himachal Private Universities Management Association and Private Technical Institutions Association, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan upheld the stand of the government and said “the impugned measures providing for admission on the basis of combined entrance test (CET) are reasonable”.
The bench, which had reserved the judgment after arguments on July 8, said the “fixation of fee is a policy matter and lies solely within the domain of the respondents (government and Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission) and even otherwise, this court lacks expertise to determine what should be the fees for different kinds of courses”.
The petitioners argued that earlier they were permitted to admit?the students in the technical courses in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) which provided that in case some of the seats remain vacant after counseling, these would be filled by adhering to the prescribed criteria.
Now, the state-run Himachal Pradesh Technical University in Hamirpur issued fresh guidelines December 6, 2013 on admission to B.Tech, B.Pharma, MCA, MBA, M.Tech and M.Pharma courses for session 2014-15 and the petitioners cannot admit students either on their own or through any?other agencies, they pleaded.
The petitioners argued that in view of the instructions issued on December 6, 2013, the colleges are mandatory required to take students from the merit list prepared by the University after conducting various Common Entrance Tests (CET).
It further submitted that from various sources it has come to the notice that large number of ineligible candidates had been allowed?admissions by these institutions and the then H P Regulatory Commission informed that against total number of 6520 seats in private universities in B.Tech Courses, 3200 candidates were admitted.
The lowering down of admission standards have also contributed to poor?results, the petitioners said.

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Students offer options to make life safer, easier in Thiruvananthapuram

T. Nandakumar | The Hindu .

Students from the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology, Guindy, have come up with a piezoelectric fabric for energy harvesting.

A helmet-mounted electronic device that could possibly avert accidents such as the electrocution of three technicians at Nadathara, Thrissur, on Tuesday is among the 17 exhibits at the ninth edition of TechTop 2014, a national innovation contest that begins here on Friday.

Developed by a team of students from the Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology, Kochi, the device is designed to protect technicians from electrocution while working on power lines. The low cost, solar-powered device is capable of detecting the electric field coming from high voltage or low voltage power lines and is small enough to be installed on a safety helmet.

While students from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, will present an affordable refreshable Braille display based on shape memory alloy, a team from the Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, will exhibit a smart wearable device with remote health monitoring, panic alarm, GPS tracking and communication facilities for vulnerable people.

Students from the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology, Guindy, have come up with a piezoelectric fabric for energy harvesting. The winning team will walk away with a cash prize of Rs.1,00,000 sponsored by Degree Controls. The theme for TechTop 2014 is ‘Improving the lives of the rural population by application of technology.’ It will be open for school and college students on July 25 and for the general public on July 26.

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New panel to revise higher education curriculum

LUCKNOW: The NDA government will constitute a ‘National Education Commission’ to revise higher education curriculum across the country, said UGC chairman Prof Ved Prakash at the sidelines of a function here on Thursday.

In Lucknow to inaugurate the academic session of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University (BBAU), Prof Prakash said the existing higher education system is based on recommendations of the first and last education commission formed in 1964. “The challenges and issues in education today are different from what they were in 1964. We are trying to get a new commission in place,” said Prof Prakash.

On the UGC having outsourced the National Eligibility Test (NET) to the CBSE, Prof Prakash said, “We will provide the expertise while the CBSE will only conduct the exam. The UGC is overburdened with responsibilities and it is more of a regulating body.”

He said the UGC was also making efforts to tackle the menace of capitation fee. “We are revisiting the regulations made in 2009 and trying to get the government’s approval in the parliament,” said Prof Prakash. The SC had in September 2013 termed capitation fee “illegal and unethical”.

According to Prof Prakash, the acute shortage of faculty in universities and colleges is due to the massive expansion of higher education institutions. He said the UGC was taking many measures to combat this crisis. Many states have gone for re-employment of retired teachers. He said universities should come up with specific courses related to pedagogy for-masters level students. “Students who wish to take up teaching as a profession can study these optional subjects to get conversant with pedagogy,” said Prof Prakash, adding that research scholars can also be roped in for teaching.

To give a fillip to quality higher education, the Centre is considering setting up of a state-level resource institute for assessment and accreditation. “Though no state has come forward so far, we are waiting for the proposals. We will provide the tools and academic support,” said Prof Prakash, adding that multiple grading agencies, apart from NAAC, are needed to grade 673 universities and over 37,000 colleges spread across the country.

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Heritage Higher Education Institutions to Get UGC’s Special Funding

By Express News Service | Published: 25th July 2014.

COIMBATORE: The University Grants Commission has decided to provide special funding to heritage higher education institutions that are more than 100 years old.

“The UGC at its recent meeting has decided to give special funding to heritage higher education institutions which have been in existence for more than a century. While century-old universities will get `10 crore, 100-year-old colleges will get `5 crore special funding,” Vice Chairman H Devaraj told Express.

In Tamil Nadu, institutions like Madras Christian College, Women’s Christian College are likely to get this special funding, he added.

Among universities in Tamil Nadu only the University of Madras (UNOM) is likely to get this special funding. The UNOM, which is one of the first three universities established in 1857, has completed 157 years.

In another important decision the UGC has decided to outsource the conduct of the National Eligibility Test (NET) to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

“Around 7.5 lakh students write the National Eligibility Test (NET), which is conducted twice a year. There are so many litigations. So we have decided to outsource the conducting of the NET to the CBSE, which is already conducting many examinations,” Devaraj said.

He added, “We have held a meeting with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairman Vineet Joshi and he has agreed to conduct the NET. Most probably, the CBSE will conduct the NET from the Dec. UGC officials will assist them in the setting of question papers and other aspects.”

It has decided to seek more time from MHRD to decide on 41 deemed universities which were blacklisted by the Prof P N Tandon committee. “We have sought two months’ time to go through the document and arrive at a conclusion,” Devaraj said.

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UGC notifies transgenders as third gender

New Delhi, July 23, 2014, DHNS |

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified transgenders as the third gender to enable them to avail benefits of all scholarship schemes and fellowship programmes in higher educational institutions.
Issuing a notification on Wednesday, the higher education regulator has directed all universities and colleges to treat them as third gender for the purpose of admission and various scholarship schemes and programmes.

This comes following a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court according the third gender status to transgenders.  “Transgender has been included as third gender in compliance with the apex court order,” a senior UGC official said.

The notification has been issued so that they do not face difficulty in availing of the UGC’s schemes and programmes offered to students, he said. Transgenders will be entitled to all existing merit-based schemes and programmes of the UGC. “They are now eligible applicants for all schemes and programmes of the UGC,” he added.

The Supreme Courtheld that the third gender will be considered as the OBC, directing the government to provide them with education and employment reservation under this category.

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Distance learning: Who has the right answers?

Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Hindustan Times | New Delhi, July 23, 2014.

According to  the Madhava Menon Committee set up by the MHRD to regulate the standards of education through distance mode, till 2010, the number of students in distance education programmes was 36,36,744 (the report said that the actual numbers could be more than this).
A look at the history of distance learning in India suggests that initially  the University Grants Commission (UGC) had the mandate to regulate the universities, but when the Indira Gandhi National Open University (Ignou) was formed in 1985, the issue of regulation of universities offering distance education came under its purview. In 1991, a regulatory body called Distance Educational Council (DEC) was set up under Ignou.  Panned as a “weak regulator” by critics, the Distance Education Council (DEC) initially gave approvals based on universities’ programmes. Then in 2007 it switched to institutional approval and later went back to programme approvals.

 DEC restricted state universities to operating within their respective states, and then in 2007 allowed them to offer degree programmes outside their states. However, On June 2012, it said that the territorial jurisdiction of state universities (both government funded and private) would be within the state.

On December 29, 2012, when DEC was dissolved and the UGC took over its regulatory functions, the latter also reiterated the same policy, ie, the state universities (both private and government funded) could offer programmes only within the state. There have been legal battles fought for quite some time over the issue of territorial jurisdiction as different high courts have passed various orders on the almost similar issues. The Delhi High Court, in the case of Punjab Technical University, restrained the university from offering any programme through institutes beyond the boundaries of Punjab. The Sikkim High Court, in another case, allowed the Sikkim Manipal University to go beyond its territorial jurisdiction.

“It’s quite shocking that the UGC is not even filing an appeal against the order passed in favour of Sikkim Manipal University. It should defend its notification. There is total confusion as one university is allowed to take its courses beyond the state while others are not,” says a legal officer from UGC requesting anonymity.

“The Madhava Menon committee had in 2011 recommended establishing an independent and effective regulatory authority on distance education through an act of parliament. The sooner it happens the better it is  for students in the country,” he adds.

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Noah’s Archive Project by WPL, World Public Library

One of the newest projects that World Public Library is working on is the Noah’s Archive Project.  It is an initiative to preserve and save a master repository of the World’s Knowledge.  The projects mission is to create and archive of the World’s most diverse repository of the written knowledge.

All of man’s most profound thoughts and insights have been carefully preserved in written artifacts throughout the ages.  Noah’s Archive Project will strive to acquire a digital facsimile of every artifact of knowledge that has ever been written and keep it safe in an on-line perpetual access model for the entire world to access via the World Wide Web.

The inspiration of this project came from the ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault, the World’s Most Diverse Repository of Food Crop Seeds.  The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a secure seed-bank located on the Norwegian frozen mountains.  It was launched in 2008 to protect the world’s food crops and save the seeds from extinction.  Imagine the wisdom of our ancestors and all of humankind similarly preserved.

The Noah’s Archive Project will provide a safety net against accidental loss of diversity often seen with traditional physical object preservation. While the popular press has emphasized its possible utility in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe, it is certainly more common to lose rare artifacts due to disintegration of time, mismanagement, accidents, mold, paper rot, funding cuts, then to natural disasters.  In recent years, countless national museums and libraries have been destroyed by war and civil strife. Our best estimate is that approximately 5,000,000 one-of-a-kind books, manuscripts, and scrolls that have been loss this century, never to be seen again.  With so many threats, politically unstableness or environmentally, to artifacts of knowledge, it is an eventual certainty that unless such an Arc of knowledge is created we could be in danger of losing millions more irreplaceable objects.

The location for the World Public Library Noah’s Archive server vault has been selected to be in a decommissioned WWII military underground bunker, deep in the hills of above Kaneohe Military Base in Hawaii. It was built to protect Kaneohe Marine Core Base from the re-invasion of the Japanese. The walls are 23 inches thick, the ceiling is 19 inches thick and the entire facility sits on a 4 foot thick cement slab 175 feet above sea level, 150 feet into the mountain and 230 feet under the mountain.

The island of Oahu is the ideal location for The Noah’s Archive. It is a stable environment, remote but still readily accessible. In 2003 the island became the hub for all fiber optic cabling across the Pacific Ocean. These cables represent the internet connection between Asia and America.

Did you know?

Great Chicago Fire 1871

  • 3 million books destroyed

San Francisco Earthquake 1906

  • 350,000 Books Destroyed

Nazi Book Burning 1933-1945

  • 4 Million Books Destroyed
  • 5/10/33 day of book burning, 25,000 books burned in a single day

Iraq War 2003

  • 10 Million Books Destroyed
  • 1 Million Documents
  • Iraq National Library & Archive destroyed
  • University of Baghdad Library destroyed
  • Al-Awqaf Library destroyed
  • Library of Bayt al-Hikma destroyed

Hurricane Katrina 2005

  • 40 Libraries destroyed

Egyptian Revolution 2011

  • 170,000 Books Destroyed

We estimate approximately 5,000,000 one-of-a-kind books, manuscripts, and scrolls have been loss this century, never to be seen again.

 The Noah’s Archive eBook Vault is a public service, there is no charge for anyone to safely store their publications in our digital vaults. To add your publications just click on the “Get Published” tab on the top right of this page.  All publications in our Author’s Community are automatically backed up in the Noah’s Archive Storage Facility.

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UGC to outsource NET exam to CBSE

Vanita Srivastava, Hindustan Times | New Delhi, July 23, 2014

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has decided to outsource the National Eligibility Test (NET)  for lecturers to CBSE.

At the meeting of the Commission on Tuesday, it was decided that the  next exam in December will be conducted by CBSE. The decision was taken keeping in mind the requirement of logistics and infrastructure. The basic objective of the exam is to determine eligibility for college and  university level lectureship.

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After UGC’s failure, CBSE to conduct NET

NEW DELHI: Central Board of Secondary Education, the country’s largest exam conducting body, is all set to add another test to its bouquet, the National Eligibility Test. The inclusion of the test from this year will make the board the biggest exam conducting body, with the number of CBSE candidates set to cross 65 lakh in a year.After failing to conduct the test without hiccups, the University Grants Commission, with the HRD ministry’s consent, has asked the CBSE to conduct the test. The decision was taken at the full commission meeting on Tuesday with near unanimity. The NET is conducted twice a year for grant of junior research fellowship and eligibility for assistant professor in institutions of higher learning.With the addition of NET, the CBSE undoubtedly becomes the largest exam conducting body globally. Apart from conducting the Classes X and XII Board exams for its affiliate schools, it also conducts the pre-medical entrance test, joint engineering entrance (main) and the central teachers eligibility test. It also conducts the Class X optional proficiency test.In a year, the CBSE has been conducting different qualifying, eligibility and entrance tests for over 63 lakh candidates. With NET, its number is likely to go beyond 65 lakh. In the June 29 2014 NET exam, over 33,000 candidates appeared for the test, which is up by 25% from that of the test conducted in December 2013.

 National Eligibility Test not to be conducted by UGC now

Is Higher Education Becoming A Privilege For The Elite?

Education for all is the right of every student. However, is it actually any more accessible to all the students across the globe? Is paying off high tuition fee and education loan putting a dent in your pocket? The following post highlights the concern on the rising cost of education and the possible reasons behind it. Read on…
Balancing the dream of higher education with financial reality is the biggest challenge that students and their parents face nowadays. According to the Nielsen Global Survey, 2013, of Education Attainment, the gateway to a better life, better employment opportunities and improved lifestyle is education.
The online survey that polled more than 29,000 people across 58 countries in the Middle East, North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America concluded that more than 78% respondents agreed to the fact that higher education is vital. However, education cost is becoming a barrier for low-income families and a turning out to be a privilege for the high-income families only.

The survey showed that the education cost comprises, on an average, 8% of the global budget allocation for a month. The monthly expense on education was more than the global average in several developing countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Chile.
Understanding the reasons behind skyrocketing education cost
The college graduates definitely earn more than the high school graduates do. However, as the value of a college degree is rising, the tuition cost of universities and institutions is increasing even faster, thus making it far beyond the reach of many deserving students coming from low-income families.
Some parents easily manage their financial resources to offer their children the best and expensive education. While for other parents, the overall cost of books and college fees makes them adjust their lifestyle. However, this is not the end of their troubles. Education loan makes them feel burdened for many more years.
The skyrocketing education cost keeps students and parents wondering if investment in higher education such as management studies, engineering, and medicine still a lucrative option. This becomes even more thought provoking issue when the return on investment is minimal, which means the annual cost of pursuing a course from a private college is more than the annual salary earned by a graduate in the first few years of a job.
Let’s analyse the possible reasons of the increasing cost of higher education:

  • Inflation

Inflation is an increase in the cost of living over a period. Although no one likes to hear this word, yet it is an accepted fact. Inflation has not been very gentle with the cost of higher education, averaging to an annual average hike of 4% to 6%. In simple words, education costing today at $10,000 will surely increase by about $400 to 600 the next year!

The graph indicates an increase of approximately 80% in the price index for college tuition during August 2003 and 2013. This hike is almost double of the growth figure in medical care cost.
· Demand for certain majors
One of the common principles of economics is that demand is directly proportional to price. In simple words, the more the demand for an educational program by students and employers, the more is the increase in its price.
Hence, the popularity of some specializations or majors can cause an overall high cost for some students. Therefore, the limited size of classes and more demand for professional courses increases its cost. Moreover, the duration of college degree usually ranges from four to five years, thus increasing the cost of education every year as per inflation.

· Less number of scholarships
The lack of financial aid and less number of scholarship programs is another suggested reason. If you are not lucky to get a scholarship, then you fall in the category of students who have to take up the huge cost of education. Moreover, several universities and private colleges receive less or no funds from the government, thus leaving the students there with no option of financial aid.
With the rising education expenses, there is a need for more scholarship programs, grants, and financial aid.
Possible solutions
Does higher education need to be so expensive that it becomes out of the reach of many students? Absolutely not! It is not only raising a problem of student loan debt, but also crippling the possibilities of economic growth. So how can we deal with this problem?
The Wall Street Journal presented the opinion of the three economists to discuss on these questions. The economists included Rudy Fichtenbaum (teaches at Wright State University, Ohio), Richard Vedder (Director of the Center for College Affordability & Productivity, Washington DC), and Katharine Lyall (Former president of the University of Wisconsin System).
The possible solutions suggested by them included:
· More regulation from the accrediting agencies and the federal government is what higher education needs.
· Cost-cutting ideas must be implemented in educational programs by reducing their duration from say 3-year degree programs to fewer years but greater emphasis on developing workplace competency and practical exposure to students.
· Promoting e learning is another cost-effective option of imparting education. The effort should be made to come up with more educational institutions that offer quality online programs.
· There is a need to create an honest business model for public colleges and universities to promote them as market-driven entities.
Final Words
The cost of education is increasing faster than the income of parents to afford the tuition fees of their children. While you wait for any signs of cost reduction, it is the time to concentrate on your saving plans. Look for institutions that offer quality education at a comparatively low cost.
About the author: Swati Srivastava is an avid writer and blogger who is an expert in counselling students on different professional courses and career decisions. Currently, she is a dedicated writer for Shiksha.com.

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New-breed companies pay big bucks for IT talent

BANGALORE: A new breed of technology companies is paying software engineers in India substantially more than traditional ones.

Companies like DevFactory, Exponential and Informatica are paying as much as Rs 20 lakh to Rs 40 lakh to talented freshers and mid-level programmers, many times more than the Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 6.5 lakh that large IT services companies pay.

DevFactory, the R&D arm of enterprise software firm Trilogy, is paying a whopping Rs 24 lakh annually to freshers. It even offers a Rs 1-lakh joining bonus, very unusual at entry levels. DevFactory calls itself the world’s first software factory — it focuses on doing higher quality work with fewer, but highly trained specialists. To quickly transform student recruits into tech professionals, it bundles into the compensation package a Rs 1-lakh bonus for the DevFactory University (DU), a training programme conducted in Dubai.
Others offering such packages include US-based digital media solutions firm Exponential, software development firm Informatica, American Express, Rolls Royce and GE, according to HackerEarth’s Market Research. HackerEarth is an online coding platform that tests the coding skill of programmers. DevFactory ran a coding challenge on HackerEarth recently to recruit six software development engineers.
Many product companies are fiercely competing with rivals and startups to attract the best coding brains in the industry. “A great developer is well worth his/her weight in gold. The theory subscribed to here is that a great developer is 5x-10x better than an average developer and that’s the basic law of software engineering talent,” said Ravi Gururaj, chairman of the Nasscom Product Council.
Debabrat Mishra, director in management consultancy firm Hay Group India, said these companies look at problem-solving skills and hire a team player besides looking at strong programming skills.
HackerEarth research finds that a notch below, offering salaries in the Rs 13 lakh to Rs 22 lakh range, are companies like InMobi, Yantra, Target, Ebay, SAP Labs, Walmart Labs, and Directi. These companies specifically look for strong algorithm knowledge and experience in building scalable cutting-edge software. Walmart Labs India, for instance, is hiring 350 people in Bangalore to expand its team of data scientists and technologists in supply chain and pricing technologies. “These firms want strong programmers who can make sense of large sets of data, work on multiple frameworks, and build scalable applications using cloud-based architecture,” said Sachin Gupta, co-founder of HackerEarth.

HackerEarth finds that Indian startups Druva, Flipkart, Practo, Freshdesk, global startups PassportParking and big names such as VMware, Intuit and Intel offer fresher and mid-level salaries in the Rs 7 lakh to Rs 12 lakh range for those with high-level programming skills.

Startups, Gururaj said, can suck away the best talent and create some inflation for the top tier of talent. “But they won’t create general inflation for the average talent pool. This is a game being played for the best 5% of the talent pool and super high wages will not easily trickle down to the masses,” he said.

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