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Lack of building: Delhi HC upholds AICTE order against engineering college

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.

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Complete accreditation process, HRD ministry asks Central universities

IBNLive India

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.

Complete accreditation process, HRD ministry asks Central universities

“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.

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IIT-UGC row: HRD Ministry to refer to Law Ministry on UGC Act

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.

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Order Restoring Engineering College Seats Upheld; Telangana, JNTU

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.

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UGC distance learning policy violated, admits HRD minister

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.

Crucial ­Questions
# 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.

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A crisis, engineered by the problem of plenty; huge number of vacant seats in technical institutes

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.

Mumbai short-changed
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.

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HC breather to Telangana government and JNTU ‘disqualified’ 174 engineering colleges

The Times of India |

HYDERABAD: In a huge breather to dozens of engineering colleges in Telangana, the Hyderabad High Court on Monday directed the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) to allow colleges, which has the required teaching faculty, to join the counseling process. Citing lack of infrastructure, the Telangana government and JNTU had barred 174 engineering colleges from taking part in this year’s admissions process, being conducted through web counseling. It came as a big blow to the colleges, with many staring at closure. But Justice A Rajasekhara Reddy came down heavily on JNTU for straightaway deleting names of petitioners’ colleges from the counselling list, which he described as “arbitrary and contrary to the principles of natural justice.” “Worse still, JNTU has not followed its own regulations before taking the decision,” the judge added.
Despite advocate general K Ramakrishna Reddy saying that it was not possible for the varsity to verify the correct faculty position within a short time, especially with the August 31 deadline for completing the admission process approaching fast, the judge said it would be unfair, if some of these colleges were not allowed to join counselling.  Clearing the decks, albeit conditionally for these engineering colleges in Telangana, the judge clarified that if the colleges have the right faculty, the other facilities can be improved in a month’s time. The judge also pointed out that JNTU had delayed its inspection of colleges and in case the managements fail to plug the gaps, JNTU was free to take action in accordance with law. The judge also directed the university to consider representations made by various colleges that they had fulfilled the norms.
Advocate general Reddy pointed out that earlier in the day, the university had filed a memo detailing the schedule and how it was difficult to ensure that admissions be completed by August 31. The judge, however, refused to make any amends to his directions. In a separate order, dealing with a batch of another 52 writ petitions, the judge directed the varsity to include some of the colleges for counselling as permitted by the AICTE. The colleges complained that JNTU has reduced their intake capacity citing infrastructure issues. The judge declared the action of the state illegal in this regard. Once AICTE allows a particular number of seats for a college, then the university cannot arbitrarily reduce them, the judge said. The judge directed the Eamcet convenor to notify all the seats allowed for these colleges.

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No HC relief to barred engineering colleges; Telangana

Times of India |

HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad High Court on Monday refused to grant relief to scores of engineering colleges excluded from the ongoing engineering counselling, which in effect shuts the door on them this year.  As many as 174 engineering colleges in Telangana were barred from counselling due to lack of adequate infrastructure. Managements of about 140 of these colleges moved court on Monday, but with Justice A Rajasekhara Reddy dismissing their plea for interim relief, they are likely to have zero admissions this year. Earlier, describing the action as “a midnight coup,” the engineering colleges had challenged the decision of JNTU. Senior counsel L Ravichander, appearing for some of the colleges, argued that they had permission from the AICTE and the state government, and therefore it was unfair to ban them.

A Satyam Reddy, another senior counsel appearing for a group of engineering and pharma colleges, said that the decision was unjust and unfair, adding that the method and manner of action was arbitrary and illegal. But holding his ground, advocate general K Ramakrishna Reddy told the court that these colleges were excluded from the process as they were not running in accordance with the norms of AICTE.  “They do not possess the right faculty and there are no professors with PhD qualifications. The wages are not in tune with the norms. There are no labs and some of them do not possess required staff and toilets. These colleges do not have the basic amenities. The government is not going to spend its funds on such colleges,” the AG said. “The inspection reports on each of these colleges are with the government. Let them deny the contents of the reports and file an affidavit in court. We will examine them and respond to the pleas,” the AG added. Citing paucity of funds, he said the government was justified in strictly scrutinising managements, which were hoodwinking the government and the AICTE. The Supreme Court fixed the deadline of August 30. The Judge heard directed the state to file its counter and posted the hearing to August 22.

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259 colleges denied affiliation due to non-compliance with AICTE norms and regulations; Telangana

Deccan Chronicle | DC CORRESPONDENT | August 17, 2014 |

Hyderabad: Nearly 174 engineering colleges and 85 pharmacy colleges are expected to be left out of Eamcet Web counselling slated to begin on Sunday morning. Affiliation has been refused to these colleges for non-compliance with AICTE norms and regulations. As a result, students have been deprived of about 1 lakh seats.

Almost all existing engineering and pharmacy colleges in the Andhra University and SV University in Andhra Pradesh got their affiliation renewed. But, affiliations of only 141 engineering colleges and 61 pharmacy colleges in Telangana state were renewed till Saturday evening. The fate of other engineering colleges is not known yet.

Eamcet chief camp officer Dr K. Raghunath said only these many colleges will be available in the Web counselling set to begin from Sunday. “The list of available colleges will be uploaded on the website by Sunday morning,” he said.

Telangana government had categorically said that colleges violating AICTE norms will not be granted renewal. A fresh inspection drive was started again by the JNTU Hyderabad on the insistence of the Telangana government. Managements of engineering colleges are also fuming as they say they have not been given any clear reason as to why affiliations have been revoked.

College managements are gearing up for a legal battle as they said they would move a house motion in the Hyderabad High Court against the move by JNTU.  Dr Gautam Rao, chairman, Telangana Engineering and Professional College Managements Association (TEPCMA), said, “They are not telling us the reason of refusing renewal.”

As of now, only about 85,455 seats will be available in Web counselling from Sunday. A total of 1,84,575 seats were supposed to be available before the inspection.

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Lens on 29 engineering colleges for adding BTech seats sans government nod; Odisha

Times of India | |

BHUBANESWAR: Amid large-scale vacancies of engineering seats, the state government has decided to scrutinize the infrastructure of those colleges that increased their admission capacity this year.
The government has asked Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) to conduct an academic audit of 29 private engineering colleges, which added seats by obtaining permission from All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) but without getting no objection certificates (NOCs) from the state government and BPUT, a senior government officer said.
Additional secretary (technical education) P K Das has asked vice-chancellor J K Satapathy to submit the audit report within a month.
Das wrote that these institutions managed to obtain AICTE approval for increasing their admission strength either in some existing disciplines or opened new branches without government NOCs as per norm. The government is not giving NOCs for new branches because of vacancy problem.
After increasing their seats, the institutions obtained an order from the Orissa High Court to be allowed counselling for admission by Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) for the revised strength and new courses. “It is not known whether the institutions concerned have the requisite infrastructure and faculties for such increase in intake and introduction of new disciplines.. You are requested to conduct an inspection to ascertain whether they have the infrastructure and faculties,” Das wrote.
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