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Not sharing data? HRD may slash funds to higher education institutions

Hindustan Times | Neelam Pandey | New Delhi Feb 15, 2018  |

The HRD ministry can ask the UGC to act against institutions if they don’t provide mandatory data under the National Institution Ranking Framework.

The human resource development ministry may slash funding to higher educational institutions in the country if they don’t provide all the information sought under the National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF). It was learnt that a number of educational institutions affiliated to the Delhi University, such as St Stephen’s and Lady Shri Ram (LSR), have not shared mandatory data required for the ranking exercise. “As the NIRF serves as a report card to the nation, the ministry can ask the University Grants Commission (UGC) to act against such institutions. Hence, no institution should try to duck the requirement,” a senior ministry official said, adding that a decision will be taken on the matter soon. The UGC releases funds to universities every year. St Stephen’s principal John Varghese and LSR principal Suman Sharma did not respond to phone calls and text messages seeking their comments on the matter. The NIRF will announce its all-India rankings this April. Apart from an overall list of top institutes, a separate one pertaining to colleges will also be published. St Stephen’s did not participate in the 2017 round, while LSR ranked sixth on the list.

A number of institutions – including St Stephen’s, Hindu College, Sri Venkateswara College, AIIMS and NIFT – had earlier decided to apply for the 2018 ranking, and submitted application forms to this effect. However, it has now emerged that St Stephen’s and LSR may not figure in the list unless they share faculty-related information – a mandatory parameter to assess the performance of colleges in the national ranking system. It is compulsory for all central government-aided institutions to apply for the NIRF. “Some colleges that figure high in public perception fear that they will be ranked a lot lower than other institutes because the ranking system follows an objective criterion focusing on the creation of new knowledge. We are still giving them a chance to apply,” said another  official.  As many as 4,734 institutes, about 1,525 more than 2017, are participating in the exercise this year. Rankings are accorded in eight categories – overall, engineering, management, architecture, law, medical, pharmacy and general colleges. The ministry prepares the list on the basis of a range of parameters such as teaching and learning resources, quality of research and outcomes that judge the employability of graduates. – Courtesy
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In a first, AICTE gives credits for new technologies including AI, robotics, ML, IoT

Economic Times | 15 February 2018 | Prachi Verma | In a first, AICTE gives credits for new tech courses |

New Delhi: Artificial Intelligence has caught the attention of the government at the campuses. New technologies including AI, robotics, machine learning (ML), Internet of things (IoT) have been given up to 20 credits, as per the new curriculum prepared by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE ) for the first time. This new curriculum is likely to be followed by at least 80% of the 3,000 engineering and technical colleges in the country. Recruiters are happy with this as it would give them access to a larger talent pool to hire from in new technologies. The much-talked-about new syllabus was launched last month which has also reduced the credits given to theory-based courses. Universities such as Delhi Technical University, Punjab Tech University and YMCA Faridabad are looking forward to embracing the new curriculum that would make their students more industry-relevant, thus increasing their prospects during placement. This is an effort by the government to ensure India is talent pool proficient in AI and other emerging technologies. All IITs and NITs have a full semester course on AI at B-Tech level. AICTE, in its model syllabus for other engineering colleges, is focusing on emerging areas like AI. With this, all new grads coming out of IITs/NITs and standard engineering colleges would come with fair competence to work on AI, confirmed a senior official at the ministry of human resource development (MHRD). To ensure that the faculty at these institutes are ready, AICTE is soon going to roll out e-courses for faculty on new emerging technologies. The new course would also include programmes on vedas, yoga, Indian traditional knowledge, universal human values, etc. Over 80% of the institutes (3,000) have agreed to implement the new syllabus, according to an AICTE official. Course Correction .In many colleges, the students are not getting jobs as the course followed is dated. The focus of the new syllabus on new emerging technologies will help colleges improve placements as teaching would get more industry relevant, said Dinesh Kumar, vice chancellor, YMCA Faridabad. He said that average salaries may also go up at institutes as a result of this. * How Indias energy demands are being efficiently met Toshiba * Easy Method To Lose Weight Without Any Diet.. Manorama’s Blog. Recommended By Colombia The average salary at YMCA was about Rs 4 lakh per annum until last year. In the coming months, YMCA has also lined up workshops for faculty of engineering colleges in Haryana to train on the new courses.

Starting the next academic session, DTU would offer students two credit elective course on yoga & meditation. The new framework includes all essential elements for engineering like new technologies and soft skills apart from core engineering courses, said Yogesh Singh, vice chancellor at DTU. Almost 80% of the institutes would be implementing the new curriculum, confirmed Rajive Kumar, advisor at AICTE. IITs are already offering these courses on these new technologies since a couple of years now. Credit system in the existing UG programme is up to 220 credits followed by many institutes which is now being eased and lowered to around 150-160 credits in a total four-year UG programme, according to AICTE. “This would avoid undue burden on the students,” said Kumar. The prevailing curriculum focuses only on core and elective subjects of the respective disciplines of engineering. AICTEs new curriculum includes non-engineering courses on subjects such as history of science and technology in India, psychological processes, gender culture and development, advance course in ˜Peace Research. The existing curriculum followed at the colleges does not have industry requirements, market trends, employability and problem-solving approach. New model curriculum encourages innovation and research with reduced total number of credits, said Kumar. The new curriculum also suggests readings on Shankara (an early 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta). There was a suggestion to maintain meta-level status of philosophy. Interestingly, this suggestion came from an engineering faculty, said an AICTE official. – Courtesy

Colleges that perform well can apply for autonomy

The Hindu |  Vikas Pathak |  NEW DELHI, February 13, 2018 |

They can start new courses, set syllabi and fix fees: UGC

Representational Image

Colleges that perform well will now be able to apply for autonomous status, which will permit them to start new courses and programmes, set syllabi and even “fix fees for courses at their own level”. The University Grants Commission has notified guidelines for this change. To be eligible for such autonomy, the colleges must have been given ‘A’ grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, which means a Cumulative Grade Points Average of at least 3 on a scale of 4. The conferring of autonomous status will empower colleges to “review existing courses/programmes and, restructure, redesign and prescribe its own courses/programmes of study and syllabi; formulate new courses/programmes within the nomenclature specified by UGC; evolve methods of assessment of students performance, conduct of examinations and notification of results; and announce results, issue mark sheets, migration and other certificates.”

Reservation policies

Reservation policies will apply to these colleges too. However, the degrees, including PhDs, shall be awarded by the university with the name of the college on the degree certificate. The colleges will continue to be affiliated to the university but will enjoy autonomy to take their own decisions. Autonomous status will initially be granted for 10 years, but can be extended for five years at a time.

Own faculty

Such colleges will also have the right to appoint their own faculty and principal as per existent UGC regulations. “Colleges (of any discipline) whether aided, partially aided and unaided/self-financing are eligible provided they are under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act. The college should have at least 10 years of existence,” the notification says. – Courtesy

UGC Circular – Published on 12-02-2018 – University Grants Commission (Conferment of Autonomous Status upon Colleges and Measures for Maintenance of Standards in Autonomous Colleges) Regulations, 2018  – 19 Pages, pdf

UGC unveils draft norms for hiring teachers

The Telegraph | Basant Kumar Mohanty | Feb 13, 2018 |  BA score counts above PhD |

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission has given more weightage to graduation scores than doctoral degrees in draft norms the higher education regulator has unveiled for hiring teachers in colleges and universities. A candidate with 80 per cent marks in graduation stands to get 21 weightage points while applying for an assistant professor’s post in a college. The weightage is one point more than what a candidate will get for having a PhD degree. Some academics called the norms “regressive” and “biased” against the poor after the commission uploaded the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers) Regulations, 2018, on its website last week and sought feedback. They said candidates from rural or disadvantaged backgrounds don’t often perform well in their graduation and might be affected by the proposed selection formula. By laying down a uniform formula for all the 800-odd universities and 40,000 colleges in the country, the UGC has also waded into selection nitty-gritty that had always been left to the universities to decide.

The draft rules have made a PhD degree mandatory for the post of associate professor in all institutions. It has also made PhD qualification a must for appointment of assistant professors in university departments from July 2021 in addition to qualifying the National Eligibility Test (NET) or the State Level Eligibility Test (SLET). In colleges, assistant professors need to have a PhD if they want promotion to a higher pay scale with the same rank after July 2020. Under the existing policy, a PhD degree is a must only for those applying for a professor’s post. The draft policy seeks to lay down uniform norms on how selection panels can shortlist for interviews candidates who apply for an assistant professor’s post in colleges and universities (see chart). The selection panel will award scores based on academic records. But whether a candidate is finally hired or not will depend entirely on his or her performance in the interview. – Courtesy

University Grants Commission (UGC) has drafted UGC Regulations (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) 2018.The above Regulations are attached along with for seeking feedback/comments/suggestions in the prescribed format as under,from stakeholders/general public. It is requested to send your feedback/comments/suggestions on the above draft documents to UGC by email on : ugcregulations2017@gmail.com on or before 28thFebruary, 2018 by midnight.

Click here to View / Download the UGC Circular, Published on 09-02-2018  :   UGC invites Feedback/Comments/Suggestions from the Stakeholders/ General public on Draft UGC Regulations for (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities & Colleges and measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) 2018 – 84 Pages, pdf

UGC draft regulations make PhD mandatory for post of associate professor, irk teachers

The Financial Express | FE Online |  February 12, 2018 |

The draft regulations, however, have been termed as “extremely retrograde” by Delhi University teachers for the appointment of teachers as well as their promotion. The teachers have objected, in particular, to the minimum 55 per cent marks requirement at Masters level for direct recruitment for general category candidates.

 

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has drafted fresh regulations on minimum qualification requirement for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges. As per the draft regulations, the UGC has made PhD compulsory for candidates seeking appointment to the post of associate professor, the Indian Express has reported. Besides, it has also made a minimum requirement of 55 per cent marks at the Masters level for direct teaching recruitment. The draft regulations, however, have been termed as “extremely retrograde” by Delhi University teachers for the appointment of teachers as well as their promotion.

Here are minimum qualification requirements according to UGC 2018 has drafted regulations:

• For direct teaching recruitment, a minimum of 55 per cent marks at the Masters level is required.
• PhD is mandatory to be promoted as an associate professor.
• No study leave to pursue PhD.
• A candidate who scored 80% marks at the undergraduate level will get 20 points.
• Those with 60-80% marks will get 19 points.
• Those who scored less than 55% get no points.
• The draft regulations have however done away with the Academic Performance Indicator (API) score till the post of assistant professor.

The teachers have objected, in particular, to the minimum 55 per cent marks requirement at Masters level for direct recruitment for general category candidates, as per the report. Sujit Kumar, a teacher at the department of commerce, B R Ambedkar College has raised concerns for teachers who have been teaching on a contract/ad hoc basis and have graduated a long time ago and said that the ‘screening guidelines are not acceptable’.  Apart from the regulation that has made PhD compulsory for a promotion to associate professor post, the move to a level 12 pay grade (increment on basic pay from Rs 7,000-8,000) had also left some teachers worried. As per the earlier guidelines, teachers said they needed 12 years of teaching experience as an assistant professor to be promoted to associate professor. The regulation also states that taking study leave for PhD will not be counted as teaching experience. – Courtesy
University Grants Commission (UGC) has drafted UGC Regulations (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and Other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) 2018.The above Regulations are attached along with for seeking feedback/comments/suggestions in the prescribed format as under,from stakeholders/general public. It is requested to send your feedback/comments/suggestions on the above draft documents to UGC by email on : ugcregulations2017@gmail.com on or before 28thFebruary, 2018 by midnight.

Govt rolls out Rs 80,000/month PhD grant to plug brain drain

The Times of India | Manash Pratim Gohain | TNN | Feb 9, 2018 |

  • PM Research Fellowships (PMRF) will be available for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, IISERs and NITs.
  • The PMRF includes monthly scholarships of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 and annual research grants of Rs 2 lakh for select scholars.

NEW DELHI: With a vision to stop India’s best brains from taking up scholarships for frontier research abroad, the Union Cabinet has approved the PM Research Fellowships (PMRF) for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, IISERs and NITs, which will also be the country’s most lavish paid scholarships to date.  And in another incentive for engineering graduates who want to pursue research, BTech graduates from IITs, IISERs, IIITs or NITs shortlisted for the PMRF will be eligible to directly pursue PhD at IITs or IISc, Bengaluru.  The PMRF includes monthly scholarships of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 and annual research grants of Rs 2 lakh for select scholars.

The Centre has approved an allocation of Rs 1,650 crore for these fellows to be spent over three years.   Apart from 1,000 annual scholarships under the scheme, the government is also planning to upgrade research facilities at the IITs and IISc. Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said the scheme, announced in the Budget and approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, will pave the way for BTech graduates or graduates from integrated-MTech or MSc in science and technology streams to be offered “direct admission in PhD programme at the IITs/ IISc”.  The minimum eligibility for aspirants will be a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 8.5. The minister said that the scheme will be rolled out from the 2018-19 academic session. – Courtesy

AICTE rules out moratorium on new engineering courses

The Times of India | B S Anil Kumar | TNN | Feb 9, 2018 |

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has rejected the state government’s request that no new engineering courses be granted to any of the existing engineering colleges in the state, for the time being.  The AICTE regional council committee, chaired by AICTE south-western zonal committee chairman T G Sitaram, however, agreed with the state’s argument that no more new engineering colleges should be set up in the state, at least for now. Generally, the AICTE central committee seldom makes changes in the decisions taken by the regional committees on state-centric issues.  The state government, in its perspective plan for engineering education, submitted to the AICTE, had pointed out the large number of vacant seats in engineering colleges and the deteriorating quality of engineering education as the reasons for batting for a moratorium on new colleges and courses. The regional committee, which met here on Wednesday, questioned the rationale behind the state’s demand that no more courses should be sanctioned in existing colleges. As per the AICTE norms, only those institutions having accreditation of the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) are eligible to apply for new courses.

The NBA accreditation has to be obtained department wise and only 15 colleges in the state have so far acquired accreditation for their courses. Among them, majority are in private sector. The regional committee, according to sources, asked how it would be possible to deny new courses to NBA-accredited colleges since the norm was applicable to engineering colleges across the state. Education department principal secretary Usha Titus who represented the state at the regional committee meeting, however, argued that the AICTE should stop the practice of sanctioning new courses to all NBA-accredited institutions. “Rather than blindly reciprocating to the applications from NBA-accredited institutions, AICTE should sanction courses on need basis. If the AICTE is not in favour of rejecting applications for new courses in the state, it should at least ensure that strict norms are followed while sanctioning new courses,” she said. According to sources, applications of at least two engineering colleges, including one in government sector, for new courses are pending with the AICTE whereas nobody has approached AICTE with the request for permission to start new engineering colleges.- Courtesy

Employability of fresh engineering graduates is rising, says survey

Live Mint |  Thu, Feb 08 2018 | Prashant K. Nanda |

Among fresh engineers, employability is even higher, says the survey

New Delhi: Employability of Indian graduates is rising, a new survey has found, questioning conventional wisdom that many of them are not trained to start work. Among fresh engineers, employability is even higher, says the survey. The survey conducted jointly by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), United Nations Development Program, leading human resource consultancy Peoplestrong and skill assessment firm Wheebox, said that “this year, employability score has taken a big leap as compared to last year.” Since 2014, overall employability among graduates has risen from 34% to 46%, a jump of more than 35%. In other words, nearly one out of two fresh graduates are employable now, up from one out of every three four years back. Fresh engineers, often termed largely unemployable, were found to have 52% employability. Within the engineering domain, those pursuing computer sciences have the highest employability, says the report that surveyed 510,000 students and 120 companies.

The survey showed that in 2018, most of the higher education domains have showed improvement in job-readiness of fresh graduates. However, employability of graduates of management institutes, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and bachelor in commerce are showing a negative trend. “MBA is the new B-Tech,” said the report, underlining how management education quality has slipped. Overall, the improvement in the employability factor will have three key impacts—one, the competitiveness of graduates will improve, more quality employment will be demanded, sharpening the jobs debate in India, and third, industries will find it easier to get a job-ready workforce. “This is good news for the economy and for industries. And the effort put in by authorities and institutions were showing results. But the employment scenario is changing swiftly and jobs that were on demand five years back, may not be favourites now or two years hence. So, everyone needs to be on their toes,” said Nirmal Singh, chief executive of Wheebox, which conducted the skill assessments of students for the survey.

Among states, Delhi was on top with nearly 75% of its graduates being termed as employable. Other than the capital city, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are the other top states in terms of graduate employability. Bengaluru, Chennai and Indore are the top three cities in terms of employability. Automation will be a key disrupter in the jobs market, study showed. It said “32% respondents claim that automation is affecting 10 to 40% of existing jobs. Engineering, automobiles, manufacturing, consumer durables and core sectors have highest responses of this impact category.” The survey said more companies showed higher hiring intent in 2018. The overall hiring trend suggests that graduation courses and engineering graduation or equivalent courses are high in demand as both put together 45% of total hiring requirements. It further said fresh graduates and employees with up to five years of experience are in high demand and their improved employability will positively impact productivity. AICTE chief Anil Sahasrabudhe claimed his organization, which is the apex technical education regulator, has taken suitable measures to make students industry ready. He said the council will take inputs of this survey in further improving the quality of technical education. – Courtesy

Friendly fire on teacher pay

The Telegraph | Our Special Correspondent | Feb 08, 2018 | Opinion |

Representational Image

New Delhi: A University Grants Commission member who comes across as a BJP supporter in his social media posts has criticised the move to link higher pay for teachers with internal generation of resources, using the word “unthinkingly” to describe how some decisions are taken. The criticism came in a Facebook post by Prof. Inder Mohan Kapahy, who was appointed a member of the higher education regulator by the NDA government in February 2015. While issuing the 7th Pay Commission order, the human resource development ministry had said institutions would have to generate 30 per cent of the required additional cost for implementing the revised pay scale. “Routinely the departments of Finance Ministry sends such circulars to ‘autonomous institutions’ connected financially with the Union Government and the same unthinkingly, without application of mind, percolate down to UGC and then to the university systems,” Kapahy said in his post.

The 6th Pay Revision documents had spoken about an 80:20 formula. “Nothing happened,” Kapahy wrote. “Any such formula may have some relevance in the revenue generating autonomous PSUs (public sector undertakings) but no meaning for our universities and colleges. It can be easily ascertained that even those PSUs can’t and don’t follow the impractical formula.” “There is absolutely no way in which the HRD Ministry or the UGC can implement the 70:30 formula in university systems,” he added. It wasn’t clear whether he intended to take up the matter in the commission. Kapahy could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. In some of his other posts, however, Kapahy comes across as a BJP supporter. “There is no doubt this budget is geared towards the poor and the farmer,” he had written after last week’s budget. “The opposition naturally shall berate it as an election budget of unrealistic promises! In fact it is afraid that over 70% of Indians may actually appreciate it to its horror.” The issue of internal funds generation has led to protests by teacher associations across the country. The Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) observed a strike on Wednesday. The All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations will also support the DUTA in opposing the new funding formula. – Courtesy   /   https://www.facebook.com/public/Inder-Mohan-Kapahy

Sarat Chandra Patnaik : Open University student, 81 years young

The Telegraph | Subhas Panigrahi | Feb 07, 2018 |

Sarat Chandra Patnaik

Sambalpur: An 81-year-old retired officer of the rural development department has taken admission in the Odisha Open University’s Bhubaneswar centre. The varsity’s vice-chancellor Srikant Mohapatra, while interacting with the learners, said: “There is no age limit for acquiring knowledge. The old man, Sarat Chandra Patnaik, a retired class I officer of the rural development department, has enrolled himself to study the rural development course.” Patnaik had secured his BA degree from Berhampur University in 1973. “See for yourself the interest of the old man. At this age, Patnaik wants to study and acquire more knowledge. He is sincere in his studies. He told me that as he was writing fast, the teachers were not able to read his handwriting,” the VC said, while narrating his experience of meeting Patnaik. He has successfully served 40 years in his department.

Mohapatra said he had gone through his answer papers. He added so many extra pages in his answer sheets, but due to age problem and fast writing, his hand writing was not clear for the teachers to evaluate. “I am proud of such a student. At this age, he is attending classes,” Mohapatra said. He said the Open University would start a master’s degree in cyber security from the next academic session. “We have applied to the UGC for allowing us to open the cyber security course in our university,” he said, adding: “I am not in favour of opening courses without the approval of the UGC. I do not want to provide unrecognised certificate to students.” He said the students enrolled in the Open University were taking keen interest in their studies. For the first time, the VC had organised the interaction session to get feedback from the learners in the presence of teachers. Most of the students took part in the interactive session, praised the courses and requested the VC to open more job-oriented courses. Teachers Lakshmi Meher, Subhas Panigrahi, Satyanarayan Bhoi, Pruthibiraj Mishra and course co-ordinator Mahendra Behera spoke on various aspects of teachings and its impact on students. Students requested the VC to include more practical classes and field study programmes. Pratap Kumar Das, a journalism student, said the course was so much interesting that his wife had also taken admission in it from this session. – Courtesy

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