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The Times of India ||
NEW DELHI: The IIT-UGC row over degrees may take longer than expected to get resolved. The IIT Council has decided to set up a three-member committee to look into the issue. It will consist of HRD secretary Ashok Thakur, UGC chairperson Ved Prakash and scientist Anil Kakodkar. Earlier the HRD ministry was thinking of seeking the law ministry’s opinion but it has been put on hold. One IIT director said, “A non-issue has been allowed to become a serious problem. It could have been resolved through talks earlier. Hope the committee finds a way out.” IITs continue to insist that UGC had no business to write to them to give degrees only approved by the Commission. They claim that IITs are governed by an act of Parliament not the UGC. IITs, one director said, are empowered to “institute courses of study” without UGC’s approval. “UGC is confused about IITs’ autonomy and powers. It is UGC that needs to understand both the acts,” the IIT director said. On its part, UGC says Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 stipulates that IITs can institute courses of study, hold examinations and grant degrees/diplomas and other academic distinctions or titles. UGC says ‘courses of study’ does not mean ‘degrees’ since the two phrases are used at different places in the IT Act, 1961. UGC says provisions of the UGC Act 1956 and IT Act should be understood in a harmonious manner rather than to the exclusion of the other. “It would be more appropriate if IITs list the various degrees which they feel are not in conformity with the list of UGC-specified degrees. The exact mismatch between IIT Kharagpur degrees and the UGC-specified degrees may have to be reviewed jointly and an appropriate solution worked out considering the students’ interests at stake,” UGC says.
The Times of India ||
PUNE: University Grants Commission (UGC) member D N Reddy on Friday ruled out any move to dissolve the commission in favour of some other regulatory body for higher education in the country. “The present (NDA) government is thinking of restructuring the UGC. However, there is no move to scrap the commission,” Reddy said, while responding to the concerns raised by the representatives of open and distance learning (ODL) institutes. Reddy said, “An expert committee assigned by the HRD ministry under a former UGC chairman is currently working on the restructuring plan, which is much required considering the changes the higher education in the country has gone through over the last several years. The number of colleges and universities has gone up rapidly over the years.”
“When the UGC Act was passed in 1956, the number of colleges in the country was 100s but now, we have over 38,000 colleges and 600 universities. The universities are expected to go up to 1,000. As such, restructuring of the commission is needed to address various issues on account of such expansion of higher education,” he said. An expert panel, headed by R P Agrawal, former secretary to HRD ministry, was looking into the amendments to the UGC Act, he added. Last year, the HRD ministry transferred the regulatory functions for ODL universities and institutions to the UGC after the Distance Education Council (DEC), which was performing the regulatory functions as a constituent unit of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), was dissolved. A set of interim regulations were prepared by the N R Madhava Menon committee and the same are being implemented by the UGC’s Distance Education Board.
Reddy conceded that there is no clarity yet on various regulatory norms for ODL institutes and for offering technical education through distance education board. “The Supreme Court has already said the All India Council for Technical Education has no powers to regulate technical education. The report of the HRD ministry’s Madhava Menon committee on reforms in distance education is to go to the Parliament for approval in the form of an enactment for a new regulatory authority for distance education. We expect a clear picture to emerge by December when the regulatory authority and apt regulations will be in place.” He said, “The reforms committee’s recommendations are excellent from both, the government and the institutes’ point of view but, much would depend on how much the government adopts and translates into the act for the proposed regulatory authority.”
The Hindu | Education Plus | NEW DELHI, September 18, 2014 |
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked Vice-Chancellors of all universities to seek approval before undertaking any promotional activity overseas. Failure to do so could attract disciplinary action, the UGC warned. The Commission is a funding authority and also a regulator for higher education. Apart from seeking approval from the Commission and the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry, Vice-Chancellors have also been told that the local Indian missions be kept in the loop. According to a letter sent out on Wednesday to all Vice-Chancellors, some universities have been found engaging – directly or through agents appointed by them – with citizens of foreign countries to entice them into getting admission in their courses. “The Indian missions abroad are kept in the dark in the entire process of admission. Such activities not only cause great harm to the image of Indian universities and institutions but also potentially pose a threat to national security,’’ the communication pointed out.
The Indian Express |Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | September 18, 2014
As part of its efforts to introduce one legislation for all central universities, the Human Resource Development Ministry has circulated the draft bill to all such varsities, asking them to revert with suggestions within three weeks. According to minutes of the retreat of vice-chancellors chaired by HRD Minister Smriti Irani in Chandigarh last week, the “Single Act for Central Universities has been circulated to all Central Universities for inviting their suggestions.” The draft bill is based on recommendations of the A M Pathan committee and has been criticised for compromising the autonomy of these universities. There are currently 40 central universities under the Ministry, of which 16 were created in 2009 under one Act, while the rest are governed by separate Acts of Parliament. “No consensus has been evolved on the issue even though its clear the Ministry is keen on it. But yes, questions of autonomy and protecting the distinct character of each university cannot be ignored,” a V-C, who attended the retreat, said.
Officials said the idea behind a single legislation is to bring in “greater uniformity” in terms of structure and governance, even while retaining the universities’ academic autonomy. To “expedite the process” of appointments and ensure that the selection process is not upheld due to the unavailability of one nominee, the Ministry has decided to propose five names as Visitor’s nominees for selection committees, as against the one it proposes now. “There was a common consensus that MHRD will propose a panel of five names as Visitor’s nominees for the Selection Committees of each university across the disciplines of academic as well as non-academic positions separately,” the minutes state. “The idea is that if one member is not available then the next one on the panel can step in and the process doesn’t get held up,” an official said. The Ministry has also directed the V-Cs to form a committee to prepare a proposal to convert posts of professor and associate professor to assistant professor. The committee will have to prepare a report and submit it to UGC in a month’s time. Officials said the idea behind the proposal is to give greater flexibility in appointments by re-appropriating positions within the cadre. The availability of a large number of candidates for posts of assistant professor has also prompted this move. If the norm is implemented, a university would be free to appoint an assistant professor in place of a professor/associate professor if it is unable to get applicants for the latter. Universities have also been asked to send all MoUs signed by them in the last 20-25 years to the Ministry within one month.
Business Standard | Press Trust of India | New Delhi |September 15, 2014
The Delhi High Court today upheld a decision by AICTE to place a city-based engineering college under “withdrawal of approval status” for the academic year 2014-15 on grounds including lack of own permanent building. “It is apparent that the petitioner-institute suffers from several deficiencies pointed out by the Expert Visiting Committee. Despite various notices issued by AICTE to it to shift to a permanent site, it has been conducting engineering course from temporary premises for more than 15 years. “While it is true that the time to shift premises has been extended till December 31, 2014, yet this court finds that no steps have been taken by petitioners for shifting their college to a permanent site. After all a building cannot be constructed overnight,” a bench of Justice Manmohan said. It upheld the All India Council for Technical Education’s order of June 24 by which Delhi-based Guru Premsukh Memorial College Engineering was put under the category of “withdrawal of approval status” for the academic year 2014-15. AICTE had also requested the Principal Secretary (Higher and Technical Education) Delhi and the Registrar of GGSIP University to shift affected students of other AICTE-approved institutes in consultation with the Delhi government. “…This court is of the view that the impugned order dated 24th June, 2014 suffers from no illegality, irregularity and/or procedural impropriety…,” the court said while dismissing the plea of the engineering college. The college, affiliated to GGSIP University, has been functioning under the aegis of the AICTE since 2000 and has been running on rented accommodation. In 2000, the college had applied to the DDA for five acres of land for construction of the college building at a permanent site in accordance with the AICTE norms. Initially, DDA allotted three acres of land at Rohini. However, it was subsequently cancelled in 2004-2005. The college, which has been getting interim permission to start academic session during 2006-2011, was later put in the category of “withdrawal of approval status” by the AICTE.
New Delhi: Ignoring opposition from some quarters, HRD Ministry has asked all central universities to complete their National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation as per UGC regulations. “UGC will take up the matter with NAAC for opening the Regional Centers to expedite the process of accreditation,” said a government statement on Saturday. So far only 10-12 of the 39 central universities are accredited. Older universities like Delhi University and new varsities have till now shied away from going through the process due to several reasons. UGC, governing higher education in the country, had in March, 2013 come out with a notification making it mandatory for all universities to get letters of accreditation within six months from NAAC.
“UGC will take up the matter with NAAC for opening the Regional Centers to expedite the process of accreditation,” said a government statement on Saturday.
The NAAC is an autonomous body established by the UGC to assess and accredit institutions of higher education in the country. A working group of vice chancellors has also been constituted to frame guidelines on common admission, common curriculum, student mobility, faculty mobility and a national system of credit transfer. On the last day of the two-day vice chancellors retreat in Chandigarh, HRD Minister Smriti Irani today exhorted all VCs — in wake of sexual harassment of a student in Viswa Bharati University — to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of students and staff at all costs. It was also decided to form another working Group for developing a framework for the National Ranking System and submit its report within one month. The issue of holding a common admission and following a common curriculum was discussed, following which it was decided to set up a working group comprising of some VCs to frame guidelines. Older Universities such as DU and JNU, who hold their exams separately, are reported to be against a common admission programme. Officials said the issue would be taken up further after the guidelines are framed. On Friday, HRD Minister Smriti Irani has discussed a single legislation proposal with the vice-chancellors of 39 central universities to govern all the central varsities and their comments have been sought on the issue. The Chandigarh meeting came after Irani had held similar interactions with directors of IITs and IIMs. At the end of the vice chancellors meet, it was decided to set up Council of Industry Higher Education Collaboration.
(CIHEC) is being operationalised to identify initiatives to promote research, mobilise resources, develop market ready manpower and enhance employability. The council will collaborate with placement cells of central universities for identification of the emerging areas as per the requirement of the neighbouring industries to make the students employment ready. The CIHEC will also help train counsellors at all Placement Cells for better counselling and placements. Concerns were also raised about the incidents of sexual harassments against girl students in campuses at the meet, following which Irani “exhorted” all VCs to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of students and staff at all costs. “All Central Universities should ensure proper facilities and infrastructure for disabled students”, she added. Her assertion came against the backdrop of the alleged sexual harassment of a Sikkimese girl in Visa Bharati University recently. The girl quit the varsity on Friday. Focusing on the skilling initiatives, it was decided to set up 100 Centres of skilling excellence called ‘Knowledge Upgradation centre for Skilled Human Action and Learning’ (KUSHAL) within a year.
These centres will coordinate the entire skill development efforts of higher educational institutions. Enhanced funding shall be provided by the UGC and it will frame guidelines on the scheme within a month. The VCs were requested to encourage the faculty in central universities to offer free online courses to citizens under the digital India initiative. The universities were also asked to identify 40 great personalities and locate the school, colleges and universities which had the proud privilege of teaching these great personalities and take action to develop and improve the facilities and infrastructure in these institutions. Every central university was also asked to display on its website, within a month, all relevant information including profile of teachers, calendar of activity of university, academic calendar, names of members of all statutory bodies along with their tenure, research output, information on budget, vacancy, tenure of Registrar and Finance officer. UGC was also requested to formulate regulations where in the students coming out of vocational stream are not discriminated against vis-a vis the students coming out of general streams. Under the campus connect programme, all the central universities were asked to ensure that their campuses/constituent colleges become fully wi-fi enabled as soon as possible. Besides, under the ‘global initiative for academic networks programme’, the universities were told to provide a list of eminent scholars and researchers within a month, both from within the country and outside, who they would like to invite in their universities as guest speakers.
Prepsure | Rruchi Shrimalli | September 10, 2014
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had asked all the 16 Indian Institutes of technology (IITs), the premier technology institutes of India, to make sure that the degrees they are offering are aligned to those recognised by them. IITs took a strog exception to the interference of the higher education regulator in the IIT system and complained about it to the Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Smriti Irani. IITs are autonomous engineering institutes of national importance which are governed by The Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 in terms of powers, duties, framework for governance etc. They have argued that they are not covered by the UGC Act. The UGC directive may force them to re-structure or re-name their four-year Bachelors of Science (BS) programmes or dual degree programmes. The UGC has argued that it is the only statutory body in India to specify degrees in all domains of knowledge – including medicine, agriculture and engineering. The HRD Ministry backed the UGC stand saying that the IITs should try to correct the mismatch with UGC degree specifications.
Taking cognisance of the protests by IITs, Irani has decided to escalate the UGC-IIT row and take it to the Law Ministry. Ministry of Law will examine Section 22 of the UGC Act, 1956 which deals with ‘Right to confer degrees’ and give its opinion on whether it is applicable to the IITs or not. Before referring to the Law Minsitry, Irani will meet the Standing Committee of the IIT Council (SCIC) on September 12, and the IIT Council on September 22 to discuss the issue.
Officials say that the only ways to resolve the issue are:
- IITs accept the UGC’s supremacy, or
- IIT Act, 1961 should be amended to override all conflicting provisions of any other Acts to allow IITs to determine their own academic programmes and degrees, or
- UGC amends its July 5 gazette notification on degree programmes specifications and their duration to allow for the IIT courses.
This time around, the UGC chairman (who is a member of the IIT Council but has mostly stayed off its meetings) will attend the council meet too so that the issue can be resolved quickly.
The Indian Express | Express News Service | Published: 29th August 2014 |
HYDERABAD: A division bench of the High Court on Thursday upheld the order of a single judge directing the Eamcet convenor to notify and make admissions to the full intake capacity sanctioned by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in relation to the petitioner colleges for academic year 2014-15. On August 25 the judge allowed a batch of petitions of 27 engineering colleges challenging the JNTU’s decision to reduce the intake of students while including them in web counselling. He said that the intake shall be as per the AICTE proceedings. The Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University of Hyderabad challenged the judge’s order. When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the division bench comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and A Shankar Narayana asked the Telangana advocate-general K Ramakrishna Reddy, counsel for JNTU-H, to tell about the authority which would decide with regard to fixation of seats in engineering colleges. Reddy said the AICTE would grant approval to colleges without conducting inspection. Based on that the government would give approval to such colleges subject to fulfilment of conditions and norms prescribed by the AICTE. When the AG said the AICTE was only an advisory body and it was for the university to decide on the issue, the bench felt that the university would have cancelled the affiliation if the colleges failed to fulfil the norms. It found fault with the university for reducing the number of seats without issuing notice to the colleges. The AG said that the decision to reduce the intake was taken basing on a report submitted by the task force committee of the government which pointed out that there was no faculty in these colleges as per the student-teacher ratio. While refusing to stay the orders of the single judge, the bench pointed out lack of coordination between the AICTE and JNTU-H. It directed each of the college to give an undertaking that it would take time-bound steps to rectify the deficiencies pointed out by the university.
30,000 Seats find no takers in TS
With the deadline for changing options ending on Thursday, the first phase of Eamcet counselling concluded in Telangana and AP. The seat allotment for these candidates will be done on August 30. Around 55,000 candidates from Telangana attended counselling and around 30,000 seats found no takers.
Jeevan Prakash Sharma, Hindustan Times | New Delhi, August 27, 2014
After HT Education highlighted the plight of thousands of students who spent good money on distance learning programmes not approved by education regulator University Grants Commission, the matter came up for hearing in the upper house of Parliament, when it was in session. On August 11, 2014, BK Hariprasad, member of parliament representing Karnataka; questioned Smriti Irani, the union minister for human resource development, about the number of state and private universities violating UGC norms by offering distance learning courses though institutes outside their territorial jurisdiction. In her written response, Smriti Irani acknowledged the violations, saying, “The University Grants Commission (UGC) has informed that a university established or incorporated by or under a state act shall operate and function only within the territorial jurisdiction defined under its act and in no case beyond the territory of its location.” “Contrary to this provision, a few state universities and private universities set up under state act have violated this policy of the UGC. The Commission has asked these universities to close down such centres and to comply with the UGC’s instructions in the matter,” responded Irani.
Despite the HRD minister’s statement in Parliament, however, no concrete moves have been evident in curbing this malpractice. For instance, Karnataka State Open University in Karntaka (KSOU) and Mewar University in Rajasthan are still openly offering affiliations in distance learning mode to institutes outside state boundaries. When questioned, the registrar of KSOU, PS Naik, had said, “We can offer courses beyond our territorial jurisdiction as our state act allows us to do so. We don’t need to follow UGC.” Even an assistant director of Mewar University had admitted to giving affiliation to institutes for training. “Thousands of students who have enrolled in reputed institutes in Delhi for degree courses through distance learning offered by other states’ universities do not hold valid degrees. However, nobody is talking about taking action against these institutes and universities,” says a senior UGC official.
In addition to this, violation of territorial jurisdiction is not the only worry for students and parents. Replying to another question related to unapproved courses run by some universities, the HRD minister said that the UGC had never approved courses such as MSc in fashion communication, MBA in interior designing, BSc in operation theatre technology and MBA in fire safety etc. This means that the state and private universities cannot offer these courses through distance learning programmes even in their own states because they don’t have UGC approvals. “The minister says that the UGC will consider approving such courses. Thousands of students have passed out or are at present enrolled in these courses. What happens to their future as such courses are not approved now?” asks Hariprasad, when contacted by HT Education. “The minister’s response raises many serious issues. If the UGC hasn’t approved some programmes, how are these being offered to the students. All these degrees are fake. The HRD minster also says that the UGC has published advertisements to inform and educate students, but the UGC’s responsibility does not end here. It should take strict action against these universities. I am not satisfied with the minister’s response. We will pursue this issue,” he adds.
# Instead of issuing public notices to sensitise students and parents, why is UGC, the regulator for distance education programmes, not taking any action against erring private, state and deemed universities which are openly violating its order?
# Is UGC unable to stop private and state universities from offering hundreds of unapproved degree courses such as MSc in fashion communication, MBA in interior designing, BSc in operation theatre technology etc?
# Many private and state universities have hired national collaborators (private companies) who work as agents between universities and private institutes. Who is regulating these companies?
A few state universities and private universities set up under state act have violated this policy of the UGC. The Commission has asked these universities to close down such centres… Smriti Irani, the union minister for human resource and development.
DNA | Wednesday, 27 August 2014 | Kanchan Srivastava
Its tag of most industrialised state in the country notwithstanding, Maharashtra is once again staring at a huge number of vacant seats in technical institutes, a situation reminiscent of the dot-com bubble of the late nineties.
A ‘seat boom’ started in Maharashtra about seven to eight years ago when the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) allowed private institutes to scale up their intake capacity, apparently to create a large skilled workforce to meet industry demands.
However, a consistent rise in number of vacant seats in past few years has educationists questioning the AICTE move to improve gross enrolment ratio – from current 18.5% to 35% by 2020. Evidently, the underlying issue affecting the technical education sector in Maharashtra is quantity versus quality.
How many seats are lying vacant today?
Of the total capacity of 1.63 lakh seats across 365 engineering colleges in the state, only 1.02 lakh students enrolled for various courses this year, leaving nearly one-third seats unoccupied. However, the demand for courses offered by the eight state/aided colleges, including two in Mumbai, is increasing every year – these colleges have only 3,500 seats.
What are the factors?
The vacancies come alongside, and in spite of, three parallel trends across the country — massive growth in actual student intake, relaxed eligibility criteria for admission, and closure of a number of institutes, especially those offering less popular courses. Officials attribute this trend to non-robust curriculum, lack of infrastructure and research environment in most of the private institutes. Poor intake rate may seriously jeopardise the future of such colleges. “The way enrolment is dwindling year after year, we are definitely not going to achieve the gross enrolment targets,” admitted a senior bureaucrat at Mantralaya.
Why govt colleges can’t take more students
Low priority by the government. The budget for technical education in the state was Rs398 crore in 2012-13. It was reduced to Rs314 crore in 2013-14 which further slipped to Rs292 crore for the current fiscal year. This doesn’t include the district plan fund which is almost equal in amount used mainly for strengthening ITIs under the supervision of the guardian minister of that district. Only a small fraction of this fund goes for the betterment of the state engineering colleges.
Are students flocking to other places?
Yes. Scores of students are heading for better-equipped private engineering colleges in other states and foreign universities – nearly 20,000 students went to colleges in US, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom last year. Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), a private university in Tamil Nadu, for instance, saw 1.93 lakh students, including about 15,000 from Maharashtra, taking the entrance test for 4,700 engineering seats. All the seats were filled as the admissions were wrapped up in June.
BITS, SRM, Manipal and Amity Universities also drew sizeable number of engineering students from the state. “If the trend continues, the brain drain would start affecting Maharashtra,” said a professor.
Where do state universities stand?
According to VIT chancellor Dr G Viswanathan, “Nearly 1,000 Maharashtra candidates have bagged seats in various engineering courses which is second highest after Andhra.” The varsity is ranked among top ten engineering institutes in the country. By contrast, none of the Maharashtra universities or engineering institutes features among the top 10. The biggest two – Nagpur (850 affiliated colleges) and Mumbai University (770 colleges), which cater to over 10 lakh students, including engineering courses, are mired in controversies ranging from unrecognised institutes to underqualified teachers/principals and administrative failures.
Despite being home to nearly two crore people, about 15% of state population, and contributing nearly 20% of state’s GDP, Mumbai sees a huge gap between demand and supply. The city has just two government /aided institutes – Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga, and Sardar Patel College of Engineering (SPCE), Andheri. Both the campuses are rated among top four in the state, but have only 60 seats per branch. SPCE doesn’t offer computer science and IT, two most popular courses.
Even the government is aware of this anomaly. “Number of seats required here is high but intake capacity of Mumbai is just 7% due to high cost of land, rentals, etc,” states the perspective plan of the directorate submitted to the state government in 2012.
Ruing the situation, an engineering student said, “That means for general category students seeking computer science, there are just 30 seats in state-run institutes in Mumbai. Clearly, the government is sleeping and indirectly supporting the private colleges.”
Game-changer technological university yet to take off
The game-changing concept of technological univeristy may have been adopted by other states years ago, but it is still grounded in Maharashtra. The technological university in Andhra and Punjab, for instance, have all engineering, polytechnic and management colleges under its ambit. It supervises technical education, designs robust curriculum, strengthens industry-college links, all keeping a tab on job sector. Maharashtra too proposed such a university at Lonere, with extension centers in Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur in the ninth five year plan. It was established after much delay. But the rules are yet to be framed, regional centres not made and VC is yet to be appointed. None of the 365 engineering colleges have sought affiliation. Lack of expertise and interest apart, political will to improve things is grossly missing.
Reports of high-level committees junked
A high-level committee led by joint director Dayanand Meshram in 2013 had identified reasons for vacancies. It said students are not keen in courses that do not guarantee jobs. The committee also cited high fees at non-aided institutes, lack of infrastructure in colleges in rural areas and quality education in other states as factors for this poor state of affairs. Recommendations by Dr Anil Kakodkar committee which suggested measures to curb malpractices in higher education by breaking up of the bigger universities to many is yet to see the day of light. However, the government promptly implemented the Dr Arun Nigwekar committee’s report which suggested opening up the higher education sector for private universities.