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Faculty crunch (shortage) may impede higher education transformation

Zee News | Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Acute shortage of quality faculty is an enormous stumbling block in the transformation of higher education in India, says Nidhi Maheshwari.

A new study conducted by British Council titled, ‘Understanding India: The future of higher education and opportunities for international cooperation, 2014’, presented at the University of London, further strengthens the view that by 2020 India needs 1000 universities and 50000 colleges for educating 500 million people. Keeping the 1950-51 statistics in mind when there were 27 universities, which included 370 colleges for general education and 208 colleges for professional education, it is not an exaggeration to equate the gravity of this task as the largest transformation in higher education that any country has ever attempted. Announcement of opening new IITs and IIMs in the current budget is a positive move. At the same time we must acknowledge that education institutions do not become world class just because of huge buildings and lush green gardens. The ‘soft power’ i.e. the intangible ingredients like leadership and good governance, autonomy, vision and planning, well qualified faculty are important for evolving institutions.

To run any educational institute a qualified teacher is a bare minimum necessity. But our universities and institutions have shortage of qualified teachers who are inspiring and conscientious. Outdated and rigid curricula, lack of accountability and irregular teachers’ training have contributed to the shortage of qualified teachers. The last published report of government highlighted the massive expansion in higher education; however, lack of deserving Ph.D. candidates for faculty positions has created a shortage of almost 54 percent in faculty talent pool in higher education. This is a moment of truth for all policymakers, bureaucrats, and university administrators who are involved in higher education transformation that shortage of quality faculty represents an enormous stumbling block in the transformation of higher education in India.

The enrolment of private players in education sectors has helped in improving the number of educational institutes but at the same time the profit intent of these institutions has threatened our social development goal through education. It has also precipitated a fierce war for the existing talent pool of faculty. To manage this war for talent and improving professional development of teachers we need to prioritise reform in institutional, system and learning and development areas. Return on Investment in these areas should not be estimated only in terms of material profit rather all round development should be included. At the system level along with new institutions building teaching faculty development mechanisms should be explored. Along with academic staff colleges there is a need to develop a center for teaching and learning at each university, even at the institutional level. In these institutions more emphasis needs to be given on learning outcomes than content teaching. These centers can collaborate with international institutes in order to get the exposure of digital learning technologies. The success of higher education procurement at such a massive level demands involvement of digital learning technologies to meet education demand and for quality enhancement of teaching and learning.

The reform in teacher’s learning and development areas need not be visualised as ‘training’ rather it should be ‘education’, which is reflective and extensive. Further, lecture driven methodology for development is not sufficient; other approaches like mentoring, exposure visits, and involvement in research projects with peers should be involved. Short duration professional training courses may also help to strengthen the teacher’s learning and development areas. In the teacher’s training curriculum along with content and methodology there is a need to integrate development of emotional competencies, life skills and info-savvy skills. At the institutional level consistent international associations in research and teaching is required to fulfill the educational infrastructural requirements as well as for creating network for the next generation researchers. Students should be encouraged for research careers in order to mitigate the chronic shortage of PhD talent pool. Interdisciplinary research work should be promoted and short duration training programmes with international institute partnership should be encouraged. In the journey of transformation in higher education and evolving world class institutions, policymakers, academia, institution builders must admire that creation, innovation, and construction always demand patience and perseverance.

The writer is the assistant professor at the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management.


Technology comes in handy during examination days

The Times of India | |

CHANDIGARH: While many think technology is a bane as numerous WhatsApp groups, emails and messages wake people up to constant beeping on mobile phones, there are others who are using it to add to their knowledge base. An interesting user group – students – is making use of technology to prepare for examinations in the best possible way. Students from Panjab University (PU), colleges and other institutions preparing for their upcoming semester exams in December swear by mobile applications that help them share, store and compare notes with friends or seniors. “We exchange notes of important questions in the form of pictures on WhatsApp and sometimes even voice notes on a particular topic,” said Shivam Narula, a student of SUS College of Engineering and Technology, Mohali. He added that another popular application was Blue app. “It allows us to add the field type or area of interest and you can simply get to know more about a particular topic. I am using it to know more about engineering as well as health,” said Narula.

Karandeep Singh, a student of University Institute of Engineering and Technology at Panjab University, said mobile apps like Evernote and Pocket come in handy to save notes. “Evernote can be opened on a phone or tablet browser and helps keep notes that can be read later, even if you aren’t on the internet,” he said. Google Scholar also comes in handy for research scholars, while Dropbox allows students and professionals to scan and share pictures. With PU also set to hold its semester exams in December, its visual arts students use Whatsapp and Facebook to share notes and images. “The images posted get comments and starts off discussions. This helps us during late hours, when group studies are not possible in the literal form,” said visual arts student Tanvi Singh. Young professionals like Siddharth also use Evernote to archive mails, take down notes during meetings and store articles and Pdfs. “The extension Penultimate makes Evernote into an ultimate notebook. I read a lot of blogs and the Chrome extension called Clearly is also quite helpful,” he said.


Smriti Irani interfering, assertive, says UGC member M M Ansari

The Indian Express | Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | November 27, 2014 |

University Grants Commission (UGC) member M M Ansari has slammed HRD Minister Smriti Irani for her “excessive interference” in the functioning of the commission and for taking “arbitrary and abrupt” decisions, while depending entirely on a “well-planted bureaucracy” and the RSS for running the ministry. The first such attack on the minister by a serving UGC member comes at a time when she is in the eye of a storm for her ministry’s decision to scrap German as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalayas. “There is excessive interference from the minister in the UGC. One saw it in the FYUP issue, or in the way the ministry first decided on the Swacch Bharat implementation in the education sector and then informed us and asked us to send a circular to universities, or in how she announced the Swami Vivekanand scholarship programme for a single girl child without consulting us. The ministry has been simply imposing decisions. Any decision of the UGC should emerge from an exercise within the UGC,” Ansari told The Indian Express.

The former CIC termed Irani’s decisions as being “very arbitrary” and “abrupt” and claimed she was “too assertive”. Ansari, who has been a UGC member since 2012, also questioned Irani’s capabilities to lead the crucial education sector. “The minister has no exposure of the education system. She has to depend on notes from bureaucrats, who have been well-planted by the government in the ministry, and think tanks comprising those from RSS and BJP. So how will she interact with academicians if she does not know the issues? It is demoralising for us,” he said, adding “all appointments were being made bypassing procedures”. He also criticised the ministry’s move to scrap German as a third language in KVs mid-session and said in a globalised world, it was important to give children the choice to pick what language they want to study. Ansari also slammed the appointment of Ram Shankar Katheria as Minister of State for HRD. Katheria has been in the midst of controversy over allegations that his graduation marksheet was forged. “There have been several questions about Katheria’s marksheets. We don’t know the truth but there can be no smoke without fire. such ministers, there will be a bad impact on children, an adverse impact on the youth. HRD Ministry talks of youth empowerment and then we have such ministers to lead the education system,” he said. Ansari’s term with the UGC expires in August next year.


UGC Regulation of Standards of Higher Education in the Country

Business Standard | Delhi |November 25, 2014 |
The UGC has issued regulations for regulating the establishment and maintenance of standards in private universities. These regulations are available at http://www.ugc.ac.in/oldpdf/regulations/establishment_maintenance.pdf. UGC has further informed that, as per its policy on territorial jurisdiction of a University, a University established or incorporated by or under a State Act shall operate only within the territorial jurisdiction allotted to it under its Act and in no case beyond the territory of its location. Franchising of Study Centres is not allowed by UGC.

UGC has asked Universities to follow the UGC policy on territorial jurisdiction and close down any centre opened in violation of UGC policy. Public notices have also been issued in leading newspapers and also displayed on UGC website advising general public and students not to take admissions in the unapproved Study centres/ off- campus centres etc. A copy of the public notice is available at http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/4345907_noticeoffcampus.pdf.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been established by the UGC Act, 1956 for co-ordination and determination of standards of higher education in Universities in the country. The UGC Act, 1956 and Rules and Regulations made thereunder, for regulating the standards of higher education, are available at ugc.ac.in. Regulatory Councils viz. All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Medical Council of India (MCI), Dental Council of India (DCI), Bar Council of India (BCI), Nursing Council of India, Pharmacy Council of India, Central Council of Homoeopathy, Central Council of Indian Medicine and Indian Council of Agricultural Research have been established by statute for regulating professional and technical education in the country.
This information was given by Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Prof. (Dr.) Ram Shankar Katheria in a written reply to a Rajya Sabha question.


Initiatives taken by Ministry of HRD to Enhance Quality of Education in the Country

Business Standard | Delhi |November 25, 2014 |

The Ministry of HRD has taken a number of initiatives including various Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) to enhance quality of education. The details are as under: -
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) conducts detailed periodic national surveys on learning achievement levels of children in classes III, V and VIII. Three rounds of these National Learners Achievement Surveys have been completed by the NCERT over the period from 2002-03 to 2012-2013, which have revealed improvements in the overall learning levels of students.

Under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the State Governments and UT Administrations are supported on interventions to improve the quality of elementary education, including interalia, programmes to improve foundational learning levels in language and mathematics in early primary grades, strengthening science and mathematics teaching-learning at upper primary level and implementation of a system of continuous and comprehensive evaluation system with regular state level learning assessment studies, as well.

With regard to Secondary Schools (IX-X) under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) scheme, one of the objectives is to improve quality while providing access to secondary schools at the same time. Financial support is given to states under RMSA for additional class rooms, science, maths & computer laboratories, libraries, art and crafts room, toilet blocks, drinking water provisions and residential hostels for teachers in remote areas.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken various measures for educational reforms, such as the introduction of a semester system, the regular updating of Curricula and Choice Based Credit Systems (CBSC), etc. The UGC has also issued Regulations on Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education, 2010 for improving the standard of teaching in Indian Universities. The UGC has also issued the Mandatory Assessment and Accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions Regulations, 2012 whereby all eligible higher Educational institutions are required to get themselves accredited.  The UGC also implements various schemes aimed at improving the quality of higher education, such as Universities with Potential for Excellence (UPE), Colleges with Potential for Excellence (CPE), Special Assistance Programme (SAP), Assistance for Strengthening of Infrastructure for Science and Technology (ASIST), Assistance for Strengthening of Infrastructure for Humanities and Social Sciences (ASIHSS), Basic Scientific Research (BSR) etc.
Apart from strengthening the on-going schemes of the Ministry, the following new initiatives have been included in the Budget 2014-15; -
i. Setting up of 5 IITs and 5 IIMs

ii. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching.
iii. Setting up of Virtual Classrooms and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
iv. Creation of National e-library.
v. Establishing Lok Nayak Jayaprakash National Centre for excellence in humanities in Madhya Pradesh.
vi. Provision for toilets and drinking water in all the girls schools.
vii. Schools Assessment Program.
viii. Simplification of norms for education.
This information was given by Minister of State in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Prof. (Dr.) Ram Shankar Katheria in a written reply to a Rajya Sabha question.

Courtesy       MHRD Link

Controversial UPA bill (Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011) withdrawn from Rajya Sabha

Live Mint | Tue, Nov 25 2014 | PTI |

New Delhi: Government on Tuesday withdrew from Rajya Sabha a bill which aimed at creating an overarching body in the higher education subsuming existing regulatory bodies such as University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), scrapping a controversial move by its predecessor United Progressive Alliance. The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 was withdrawn by HRD minister Smriti Irani. Its withdrawal was cleared by Union Cabinet in September keeping in mind the objections of the Parliamentary Panel to various provisions of the legislation. The bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2011 by then HRD minister Kapil Sibal but failed to evolve a consensus as several parties raised objections to the provisions of the legislation. It had sought to establish a National Commission for Higher Education and Research, with the mandate to determine, coordinate, maintain and promote standards of higher education and research other than agricultural education and minimum standards of medical education. However, the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its report had said the HRD ministry had not consulted state governments while drafting this Bill. It recommended that state governments be given a say in the formulation of any policy on higher education. It had also opposed the proposal to scrap UGC, AICTE and other regulators. The bill also came under criticism for impeding the federal structure of the country as it sought to give all powers to the commission, though education is controlled by both the state and the Centre. Shortly after coming to power, the National Democratic Alliance government announced the setting up of review committees to strengthen UGC and AICTE.

NIT to engineer course curriculum on IIT model

The Times of India | |

SURAT: The course curriculum of National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will soon be made similar to that of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Both these groups of institutes of national importance have been asked to work in close collaboration by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India for knowledge sharing and to provide better exposure to students in technical education, academicians informed. “We are working in collaboration with IIT Bombay. The current curriculum in NITs is almost at par with IIT but efforts are on to make it a notch better. NITs across India are working in collaboration with the IITs for the benefit of students,” said P D Porey, director, Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT). “The NITs have been asked to take the level of their course curriculum to that of the IITs. We have already begun working on it. The NIT faculty is currently busy developing the course module to be introduced. It will help the students and the institutes to excel academically,” said G J Joshi, dean academics, SVNIT.

The collaborative measures were discussed at the recently held meeting of MHRD and the joint council of IIT and NIT. A knowledge pool will be created between the institutes so that they can share technology, sources informed. At present, there are 30 NITs located across the country. They will work with the IITs located closest to them. The IITs have always been the first choice of engineering aspirants. If they failed to get admission in one of the IITs, the students’ next choice was a NIT. Academicians working with the NITs claim that they are happy on getting an opportunity to work with the IIT faculty.  “So far there was an informal tie between the NITs and the IITs. However, now the relationship will get a formal structure and more clarity. This would benefit the students. The plans would be discussed in the future meetings of the NIT council,” Porey added. SVNIT has been holding IIT Bombay’s Techfest for the past few years in Surat. Engineering students from across the state have been taking part in this and also in workshops and lecture series that are held in collaboration by the two institutes. The strengthening of the ties between the institutes mean they can work as partner institutes someday, sources claimed.


Manav Rachna International University doesn’t want deemed university tag

The Times of India | |

NEW DELHI: A peculiar situation has arisen in the deemed university case as Manav Rachna International University, one of the seven deemed universities that pleaded before the Supreme Court for inspection of its campus, has written to HRD ministry seeking withdrawal of deemed university status. Sources said, Faridabad-based Manav Rachna is likely to seek state university status which many private universities are opting for now. Becoming a state university will keep Manav Rachna in the business. In case, UGC-appointed committee gives an adverse report, seven of these universities will find it difficult to continue. However, it is not going to be easy for Manav Rachna to get rid of the deemed university status. Sources said, “Since the matter is sub-judice the decision can be taken only by the Supreme Court. After all, Manav Rachna was in favour of inspection of its campus.”Meanwhile, the UGC-appointed committee headed by its secretary J S Sandhu and also consisting of S P Goyal, joint secretary, HRD ministry has finished inspecting three of the seven deemed universities. Goyal has sent a note recusing himself from the committee on the ground that it is a conflict of interest.He looks after UGC in the ministry and the report of the committee will be handled by him. “It will become difficult for the ministry to question UGC committee report since its senior official will be a part of it,” one official said. Already, many deemed universities have pointed out that the formation of the committee is against UGC regulation of 2009 that clearly states how to form them. The present committee is a complete violation of the UGC norms.The regulation says the committee should consist of two serving or retired vice-chancellors of any central or state university; not less than three and not more than five members, at least one being woman, from amongst professors having special knowledge of the courses being conducted in the university; one member from each of the councils with jurisdiction over the courses in the university and one member from National Academic and Accreditation Council. Regulation also says that the committee should be headed by one of the two VCs. Meanwhile, sources said, others in the list of seven are also seeking legal advice of getting out of the deemed university status. Apart from Manav Rachna, others being inspected are Vinayaka Mission’s Research Foundation, Academy of Maritime Education & Training, Bharath Institute of Higher Education & Research, Ponnaiyah Ramajayam Institute of Technology & Science, Maharshi Markandeshwar University, and Institute of Advanced Studies in Education.


Global recognition for BMS College of Engineering (BMSCE) Bangaluru; NBA Tier-1 Accreditation

BENGALURU: The engineering programmes of BMS College of Engineering (BMSCE) have been endorsed in the Tier-I category by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), recognized under the Washington Accord. This will allow its graduates to opt for higher studies and acquire jobs in member-countries of the Washington Accord, and the degrees will be acceptable too. It will also provide transnational opportunities to BMSCE students and help in hassle-free admissions, sans donations, in Tier-I universities in over 20 countries. These include UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Taiwan, South Africa and New Zealand. The 69-year-old institute offers 44 UG programmes.


Negative marking proposal for UGC NET (National Eligibility Test)

The Telegraph | Monday , November 24 , 2014 | BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY |

New Delhi, Nov. 23: A panel appointed by higher education regulator UGC has suggested reverting to the pre-2012 pattern for the National Eligibility Test that aspiring college teachers have to clear but proposed negative marking for wrong answers in the first two objective-type papers. The suggestion of the panel, headed by UGC member D. Narasimha Reddy, is likely to be tabled when the University Grants Commission meets next month. If approved by the regulator and then by the HRD ministry, the existing objective-type pattern of all three NET papers will go back to the system that was in place before 2012, when the first two papers had objective-type questions and the third was subjective. The change is in the proposal to introduce — for the first time — negative marking in the first two papers.

At present, the eligibility test comprises one paper on general knowledge and two subject-based papers. All papers have objective-type questions. Only if candidates score at least 40 per cent in the GK paper and the first subject-based paper is their third paper evaluated, which decides their rank. Two of the panellists on the eight-member committee headed by Reddy said the changes had been suggested after speaking to various stakeholders, including students, teachers and experts across seven cities over the past two years. “The overall feedback we got was that only an objective-type test cannot assess whether a candidate is competent to teach,” one of the members said. While the committee has suggested retaining the three-paper format, with the first based on general knowledge and the last two subject-based, it has recommended essay-type questions for the third paper for humanities and social science subjects. Science-stream candidates will be asked to work out problems. Candidates will lose one mark for four wrong answers in the first two papers and will be ranked based on the average score of all three papers.

The Reddy committee has also suggested increasing the age limit for Junior Research Fellowship from 28 years to 30 years. There is no age limit for appearing for NET but the top 15 per cent eligible for a stipend under the JRF scheme have to be within 28. Professor Bhalchandra Mungekar, who was chairman of a committee the HRD ministry had set up in 2007 to study the NET system, said the proposed changes might keep out deserving candidates. In its report submitted in 2008, the Mungekar panel had recommended setting up another panel to suggest how question papers should be prepared to test the ability of candidates rather than their memory. “I don’t understand the rationale behind negative marking. The proposal to have a mix of subjective and objective questions will prevent deserving candidates (from taking up teaching)…. Unlike schoolteachers, college teachers don’t get any formal training. The idea behind the NET is to know whether a candidate has the required skills,” Mungekar said. Nearly 15,000 students clear the NET, conducted twice a year. Those who qualify are appointed as assistant professors after they clear interviews held by the college concerned.

Test model

Pre-2012: Two objective papers, one subjective

Present: One GK paper, two subject-based papers. All papers have objective-type questions

Proposal: First two papers — GK and subject-based — to have objective-type questions, with one mark to be deducted for four wrong answers. Third paper to have essay-type questions or problems, depending on stream


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