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Dubious journals abound: A study of UGC’s white list finds 88% of 1,009 journals are predatory

The Hindu |  R. Prasad | Chennai, 22 March 2018 |

A study of UGC’s white list finds 88% of 1,009 journals are predatory

A systematic study of the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) approved list of journals has confirmed what scientists have long suspected. The white list contains a huge number of dubious or predatory journals which publish substandard papers for a small fee with very little peer-reviewing, if at all.  A team led by Professor Bhushan Patwardhan from the Savitribai Phule Pune University found 88% of 1,009 journals recommended by universities and included in the white list are dubious journals. Only 112 journals met the criteria set by UGC to be included in the list. The results were published on Thursday in the journal Current Science. According to an earlier study published in 2015 in the journal BMC Medicine, 27% of predatory journal publishers are based in India and about 35% of authors in such journals are from Indian institutions. The researchers had randomly selected 1,336 journals from 5,699 university-recommended journals that were included in the UGC list. The journals included were representative of science, arts and humanities, and social science. After excluding 327 journals that were indexed in Scopus/Web of Science, the researchers took up 1,009 journals for critical examination.

For a journal to be included in the list, it should first meet the basic criterion of providing a verifiable postal address, and email addresses of the chief editor and editors, on their website. But 349 (34.5%) journals in the list either did not provide these details or the details provided were incorrect and therefore rejected. Of the remaining 660 journals, 528 were removed owing to false claims about their impact factor, being indexed in dubious indexing databases, incorrect ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) and poor credentials of editors. “Unfortunately, academic institutions which have recommended such journals have not really examined them with care. And the UGC committee appears to have taken the recommendation at face value,” says Professor Subhash C. Lakhotia from the Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, one of the authors of the paper. Only 132 journals reached the secondary level of scrutiny for analysis. The secondary level of scrutiny looked for misleading journal names such as ‘international’ and ‘global’ in journal titles, editorial policies, and nature of charges levied on authors. Twenty journals were rejected at the secondary level and only 112 journals out of 1,009 were found to be genuine in all.

 A scam in itself

“The dubious or predatory journal publishing in India parallels the Nigerian lottery scam,” says Professor Patwardhan, who is the corresponding author of the Current Science paper. “It makes a mockery of scientific publishing and has tarnished the image of India.” “Honestly, I was not surprised by the huge number of journals turning out to be dubious. Researchers have been receiving mails from journal publishers inviting us on editorial boards and to contribute special articles. It’s a depressing scenario,” says Professor Lakhotia. “I think the UGC should not maintain the white list. It is simply not equipped to do it efficiently. It should instead issue advisories on the quality of research publications,” says Prof. Lakhotia. – Courtesy

Click here to download the full text article, 5 pages, pdf A critical analysis of the ‘UGC-approved list of journals’   — Patwardhan, Bhushan ; Nagarkar, Shubhada ; Gadre, Shridhar R. ; Lakhotia, Subhash C. ; Katoch, Vishwa Mohan ; Moher, David


NIT’s first centre for excellence in manufacturing to open in Trichy

Times of India | Sampath Kumar | Mar 22, 2018 |

Trichy: The much-awaited ‘centre for excellence in manufacturing’ at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Trichy will become operational from May this year. The centre, the first in an NIT, is intended to improve the job prospects of engineering graduates in the central region as it is open not only to students of NIT Trichy but also of other engineering colleges. The centre is being raised with 10 state-of-the-art laboratories at a cost of Rs 198 crore and is aimed at linking the educational system to the industry through a learning model. With major funding from Germany- based automation company Siemens, the centre would offer courses extending from 3 week to 3 months thereby helping engineering, diploma and ITI students from colleges around Trichy.

With employability becoming a stumbling block for a majority of engineering candidates, the benefits of the Siemens centre are expected to enhance the employment opportunities of the students. This will particularly benefit students from self-financing engineering colleges around Trichy who can make use of the expertise available for a nominal charge. “Most of the graduates lack training in a specialised area and thus don’t meet the requirement of an employer,” says the director of NIT Trichy, Mini Shaji Thomas. The centre would help them to choose a field of their interest and get trained in it.  “Siemens offers hundreds of programmes ranging from a duration of 3 weeks to 3 months. For instance, a candidate with Siemens-certified product validation course or CNC programming course will have greater chances of grabbing a job opportunity,” says M Duraiselvam, head, department of production engineering at NIT Trichy who is also the centre’s coordinator. “Lack of practical knowledge has been the biggest challenge for a majority of engineering college students to become employable in recent times,” says executive committee member, consortium of SF professional arts and science colleges M A Maluk. – Courtesy

UGC grants full autonomy to 62 higher educational institutes; JNU, BHU, AMU in the list

Economic Times | PTI|   Mar 20, 2018 |

NEW DELHI: The University Grants Commission (UGC) today approved full autonomy for 62 higher educational institutions, including JNU, BHU, AMU, TERI and University of Hyderabad, which have maintained high standards of excellence.  The decision was taken at a UGC meeting today where five central universities, 21 state universities, 26 private universities besides 10 other colleges were granted autonomy under the Autonomous Colleges Regulation.  Union Human resource Development minister Prakash Javadekar hailed as “historic” the UGC move which will enable the selected institutes to decide their admission procedure, fee structure and curriculum, among others.  “Today is a historic day for higher education in India. These quality institutions will get complete autonomy by which they can start new courses, new departments, new programmes, off campuses, skill courses, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, take foreign students , offer variable incentive packages, introduce online distance learning,” Javadekar told reporters here.

He said these institutes can also get into academic collaboration with top five hundred universities of the world.  “And for all of this they will not have to come to the regulator again and again for seeking permission because they have maintained quality and achieved a benchmark of 3.26 and above NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) ranking,” he added. The central universities which have been granted autonomy include–Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), University of Hyderabad and the English and Foreign Languages University, Telangana. The state universities which have been granted the autonomous status are Jadavpur University, Andhra University, Algappa University, National University of Law, Utkal University, Kurukshetra University, Osmania University, Guru Nanak Dev University, University of Jammu, University of Mysore, Anna University, Panjab University and University of Madras, among others. OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat and Pandit Deen Dayal Petroleum University, Gujarat are among the private institutions selected by the UGC for the autonomous status. The 10 colleges which have been granted autonomy will have full freedom but not degree awarding powers, Javadekar said. “The colleges will be free to conduct admissions, decide curriculum, conduct exams on their own and evaluate them and declare the results. However, the degrees which will be awarded will have the university name along with theirs,” he added. The UGC also decided to issue show-cause notice to three deemed to be universities for not meeting the required standards. – Courtesy

Science displaces engineering at No. 2 spot in undergraduate stream

Times of India | Hemali Chhapia | TNN | Mar 18, 2018 |

MUMBAI: With engineering losing its sheen, science courses have re-emerged as the country’s second most popular undergraduate stream. Arts has always had the biggest draw and that trend persists.  While 97.3 lakh students joined BA in 2016-17, 47.3 lakh chose BSc courses and 41.6 lakh took up engineering, HRD ministry data shows. “Thanks to growing diversification with BSc courses in branches such as computers, electronics and pharma, science is no more a plain vanilla option. And an engineering degree is valued only if the student has passed out of a reputed institution. We often see an engineer competing for the same job as a BA or a BCom grad,” said Prakash Gopalan, director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology. “Programmes are closing down and so are colleges. Piece all this and it speaks about the engineering education scenario. The word is quality. In times to come this trend may get pronounced if quality is not upped,” he added.

Choices exercised by undergrad applicants have changed dramatically in the past half-a-decade. Till about five years ago, commerce was second to arts while science and engineering vied for third spot.  In 2013, BA courses had 75.1 lakh students, followed by commerce, which saw an enrolment of 28.9 lakh students. B Tech had 17.9 lakh; BE 16.4 lakh candidates and BSc 25.4 lakh students, as per the HRD ministry data.  Then suddenly, commerce lost its appeal and was relegated to the fourth spot. In 2014-2015, engineering was the second-most popular course as the IT sector continued to account for mass recruitments. The emergence and popularity of engineering saw this professional stream become a broadbased course like BA, BCom and BSc. In fact, as an expert said, even those aspiring to do business or a course like an MBA started signing up for engineering given the design of entrance exams for B-schools. But now the proliferation of second-rate colleges has acted as a spoiler. Data from 2015-16 and 2016-17 shows science admissions are up while placements in engineering are dipping.  – Courtesy

Engineering students with cancelled degrees get 2nd chance

DNA India | Mar 19, 2018 | DNA Correspondent |

Students from the four engineering institutes, whose eligibility for distance learning was cancelled by the Supreme Court last year, will get to appear for a qualifying exam in June. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which is the authority for technical education in the country, has prepared the curriculum for the qualifying exam and the applicants will have to get at least 40 per cent marks in both theory and practical exams to pass the exam. The curriculum has been put on the official website of AICTE. Students will be tested through objective-type questions, which will include questions from both mathematics and core engineering. An expert team from the AICTE and officials from the Human Resource Development Ministry decided on what should be included in the question paper.

The Supreme Court had in December last year cancelled engineering degrees obtained between 2001 and 2005 through distance learning from four institutes and ordered authorities to conduct an examination to give students another chance to validate their degree. According to officials in the AICTE, those who are unable to clear the June examination will get another chance to write the qualifying exam in December. Those who have not been able to register with the council will also get a chance to register before the December qualifying exam. That exam, however, will be the last chance for the applicants to validate their degree. The colleges disqualified for long distance courses were JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth in Udaipur, the Institute of Advanced Studies in Education in Rajasthan’s Churu district, Allahabad Agricultural Institute in Uttar Pradesh and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation in Tamil Nadu. While cancelling the degrees of students obtained from these colleges, the Supreme Court further ruled that technical education cannot be provided through distance learning or correspondence courses.


  • JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Udaipur, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Churu, Rajasthan, Allahabad Agricultural Institute in UP and Vinayaka Mission Research Foundation, TN.  –  Courtesy

Click here to view / download the AICTE Circular, 1 page, pdf  – Public Notice on Examination to be Conducted by AICTE in respect of 4 Deemed to be Universities

NASSCOM partners with Facebook to launch Design4India Studio bridging design and software engineering

Plunge Daily | Craig Cranenburgh | 

Startups will also get access to UX design process, resources, user testing and AR/VR toolkits to work on their products, find out problems and solutions on redesigning, live testing and search for the most impactful design changes to bring about rapid prototyping of features or products.

Nasscom and Facebook have partnered to launch Design4India studio as an attempt to bridge design and software engineering. The studio is located at WeWork’s co-working space and will act as a studio for web, mobile, augmented reality and virtual reality platforms for startups and designers. The Design4India initiative looks to integrate design and tech in order to enable design success for software products and the India’s startup ecosystem. The studio offers dedicated spaces for startups and designers to explore, innovate and build in collaboration. Startups will also get access to UX design process, resources, user testing and AR/VR toolkits to work on their products, find out problems and solutions on redesigning, live testing and search for the most impactful design changes to bring about rapid prototyping of features or products.

Satyajeet Singh, Head – Strategic Product Partnerships, Asia & South Asia, Facebook, said that design as an innovation activity is complementary to R&D, since it transfers research into commercially viable products and services, and bridges innovation with the needs of a consumer. He believes that design should be embedded in every step of product development, from its inception and not added as an afterthought. Ravi Gururaj, Founder & CEO, QikPod and Member, Nasscom Executive Council said: “The Design4India Studio is our first of many “Open for all” Design studios which is built to foster a culture of testing, learning, iterating and prototyping of products and services — in short: Getting design right. Now is the time for start-ups and scale-ups to pivot their business to meet the requirements of the consumers and I’m confident that this studio will increase productivity, collaboration, and innovation for the entrepreneurs and designers to come and grow together.” – Courtesy      /     Take a Look at  https://design4india.in/

A curse to science : The UGC’s incompetence has legitimised at least 200 predatory journals

The Hindu | March 12, 2018 R. Prasad |

The UGC’s incompetence has legitimised at least 200 predatory journals

In the last decade, predatory journals, which publish papers for a fee with little or no peer review, have become a curse to science. Despite the unethical business practices adopted by publishers of such journals, the number of researchers who publish in them has been increasing at an alarming rate. From about 53,000 in 2010, the number of papers published in these journals increased to 420,000 in 2014, noted a 2015 paper published in BMC Medicine. India is the epicentre of predatory journal publishing. According to the BMC Medicine paper, around 35% of authors in such journals were from India, and 27% of predatory journal publishers were also based here, thus making India the number one country in both categories. A September 2017 paper in Nature found that authors from India accounted for 27% of the 1,907 papers published in predatory journals.

From initially being duped into publishing papers in these journals, researchers in India, particularly those from State universities, are now actively seeking out such journals. The University Grants Commission (UGC) is singularly responsible for this. Never mind the almost non-existent research infrastructure in most colleges and State universities, the Academic Performance Indicators (API) system introduced by the UGC has mandated that every PhD scholar publish at least two papers prior to thesis submission. A similar condition exists for teachers in colleges and universities at the time of recruitment and assessment for promotion. The myopic policy of the UGC has unwittingly led to a sudden and huge demand for journals that willingly publish substandard papers for a small fee. Bowing to pressure, in January 2017 the UGC introduced a white list of journals where researchers could publish to meet the API conditions. If the introduction of the API was done without any application of mind, the white list prepared without the scientific community’s involvement has led to the inclusion of at least 200 predatory journals. Worse, universities may suggest new journal titles for inclusion in the list, and the criteria for inclusion are not only vague but loose. Predatory journals are known to give themselves a fake impact factor, which indicates the standard of the journal, and claim to peer review papers before accepting, though they rarely practice it. They also include scientists as editors and board members even without their consent, include instructions and ethics policies that have been plagiarised and rarely followed, and claim to be indexing in respectable sites. Unfortunately, there are just a few factors for judging a journal for inclusion. It would therefore not be surprising to find most, if not all, of the journals recommended by universities as being predatory. Owing to the UGC’s incompetence, at least 200 predatory journals have been legitimised. It’s time it abandons the list altogether and follows standard white lists prepared by competent organisations, which, even if not perfect, are far better than this one – Courtesy

AICTE takes on UGC burden of regulating standalone institutions

Deccan Herald | Prakash Kumar |  DH News Service | New Delhi |  Mar 9 2018 |

All standalone institutions will be regulated by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) from this year.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has given up its authority to regulate these institutions, which are categorised as those offering diploma level courses in various streams. Higher education institutions, which are not affiliated to any university but recognised by various councils or ministries of the government, as well as polytechnics fall under the category of standalone institutions. The decision to hand over the responsibility of regulating these institutions to the AICTE was taken by the UGC at its recent meeting, ending confusion over jurisdiction of the two regulatory bodies to regulate various types of standalone institutions as a major chunk of these institutions offer teachers’ training courses. A committee of experts, set up to review the rules for allowing higher education institutions offer distance education in various streams except in engineering, had recommended placing all standalone institutions under the jurisdiction of the AICTE.

Power to regulate

“The AICTE has a provision in its Act which vests authority in it to regulate standalone institutions,” a UGC official said. There are 11,669 standalone higher education institutions. Of them, 3,672 institutions offer diploma courses in technical education, 4,308 teachers training, 3,077 nursing, 433 post-graduate diploma in management and 179 institutions are functioning directly under various government bodies. Only 24% of the standalone institutions are run by the government and the rest are private.Courtesy

1.78 lakh Teachers in Professional Colleges to Lose Jobs

News Click | Tarique Anwar | 03 Mar 2018 |

Teachers’ body approaches SC against AICTE’s ‘Draconian’ diktat on staff-student ratio.

The table below is tentative number of professors who shall get affected and lose their jobs:

Throwing the whole professional education system into chaos, an estimated 1.78 lakh techers in private engineering, MBA, hotel management and other professional courses will be thrown out after AICTE, the regulatory body that looks after these colleges changed the faculty-student ratios. Teachers of these colleges have rushed to the Supreme Court seeking withdrawal of the new ratios. Their petition may be heard on March 9. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) declared that faculty-student ratio will henceforth be 1:20. Earlier, the ratio was 1:15 in private and self-financing engineering colleges for B.E/B.Tech/B.Arch, MBA, MCA, hotel management and 1:20 for diploma in engineering courses. The faculty-student ratio of 1:15 for engineering & technology and other programs such as MBA, MCA, HMCT, M.Pharm has been “irrationally decreased to 1:20”. For diploma, the earlier 1:20 ratio was converted in to 1:25.

The Private Educational Institutions Employees Association (PEIEA) of Tamil Nadu along with other self financing college teachers’ associations of Telengana have approached the Supreme Court for stay and withdrawal of AICTE’s new faculty-students ratio. “The total numbers of jobless professors after implementation of new ratios in all AICTE-monitored courses shall be around 1.78 lakh (one lakh faculties in private engineering colleges alone). It is stated that the new faculty-student ratio is not only going to create a defective education system but is also going to be liable for a loss of a massive amount of intra-national brain drain. Students presently opting for B.E/B.Tech or other technical education will not opt for it in future due to scarce quantity of teachers at engineering colleges. These students will opt for science and arts degrees, which cannot develop and stimulate the knowledge of students similar to the level of engineering or other technical education. Naturally, as a result of this anticipated downfall, the youth shall lose in global competition and nation shall also lose many crores of its technically qualified human resource,” PEIEA President KM Karthik said in his petition. Further, the professors – said the petitioner – who are retained are also going to come under the thumb of the management of private institutions and shall be intimidated to work for less salary because of the fear of being replaced by those who lost their jobs.

The new faculty-student ratio is way beyond the prevalent norms in other countries (see Table below for top 10 universities of the world).

There are almost 3000 self-financing/private engineering colleges across the nation. Most of them were just allowed to start and run at will during the last one and half decade. The jobless situation for engineering graduates attributed to automation, contracting, outsourcing and privatization of the industry is allegedly diminishing the craze for engineering education. “Even under this prevailing scenario, the trusts operating self-financing colleges are increasing the fees received from students and reduce the salaries earned by professors. The educational institutions feel the business will not yield the same old profit margin and decided to wind up the business and move on for other businesses. Before the educational trusts could exit the business, the AICTE indirectly helps the trusts to reap good profit by implementing a great reduction in number of professors,” said the petitioner. He said with an aim to meet the requirements of affiliations and inspections, several private engineering colleges are in the practice of appointing “fake” staff members. “The private institutions are not even following the earlier ratio of 1:15. The fact has been stated by the chairman of the AICTE himself,” he said.

It is learnt the AICTE decided to reduce the faculty to help the institutions from financial burdens. It raises a big question as to whether the AICTE has monitored or cross verified the institutions’ bank statements along with the faculties salary paid statements. The answer is negative. “It is clear that even after demonetization and digital economy initiatives, the AICTE is not bothered to digitise the student fees and staff salaries in the institutions and remains content only on oral statements of institutions. Issues are meager importance are being promoted by the AICTE and grave important issues summarily disregarded,” said Karthik. In implementing new faculty student ratios, the AICTE – according to the petitioner – has broken the transparency that it followed all these years. The matter was allegedly not released in public domain prior to deciding and thrust over the society in an autocratic manner. “The AICTE had acted on the advice of associations of college managing trusts. Every trust in no more a non-profitable service organization, and largely a money churning family owned organization. Some AICTE’s officials had acted in nexus with these trusts making a secret society and the new draconian faculty student ratios are only a result of the meetings in these secret societies,” he alleged. During the academic year 2015-16, the total number of staff in all the approved institutions of AICTE was about 7,00,000 (as per the records of AICTE). It is further stated that for engineering & technology colleges alone, the number is a staggering 5,78,000. Even if the number is taken as an approximate of 5,00,000, said the petitioner, the same accounts for 5,00,000 families with direct benefits from employment in these private engineering colleges. – Courtesy

At google.ai, study Machine Learning for free

ZeeBiz WebDesk | Mon, Mar 05, 2018 |  ZeeBiz WebTeam |

‘Learn with Google AI’ consists of exercises, interactive visualizations and modules, and instructional videos as well. The course is listed as approximately 15 hours which have over 40 exercises included. The tech giant stated that the engineering education team originally developed the fast-paced, practical introduction to ML fundamentals for Googlers.

Technology and search engine giant Google has now introduced an easy-to-learn platform called ‘Learn with Google AI’. This is available at At google.ai for free. This comprises a set of educational resources developed by Machine Learning experts at the company to help people learn about concepts, develop skills and apply artificial intelligence to problems in real life. When you go to the page on google.ai, it indicates the programme’s utility by saying, “Whether you’re just learning to code or you’re a seasoned machine learning practitioner, you’ll find information and exercises in this resource center to help you develop your skills and advance your projects.” Google in its blog said, “To help everyone understand how AI can solve challenging problems, we’ve created a resource called Learn with Google AI. This site provides ways to learn about core ML concepts, develop and hone your ML skills, and apply ML to real-world problems. From deep learning experts looking for advanced tutorials and materials on TensorFlow, to “curious cats” who want to take their first steps with AI, anyone looking for educational content from ML experts at Google can find it here.” So far, more than 18,000 Googlers have reportedly enrolled in MLCC, applying lessons from the course to enhance camera calibration for Daydream devices, build virtual reality for Google Earth, and improve streaming quality at YouTube.

‘Learn with Google AI’ consists of exercises, interactive visualizations and modules, and instructional videos as well. The course is listed as approximately 15 hours which have over 40 exercises included. The tech giant stated that the engineering education team originally developed the fast-paced, practical introduction to ML fundamentals for Googlers.  Recently, the tech firm launched an artificial intelligence research center in China. The research center is the first of its kind in Asia and will comprise a small team operating out of its existing office in Beijing, Google said in a statement. Chinese policy makers have reportedly voiced strong support for AI research and development in the country, and have imposed increasingly strict rules on foreign firms in the past year, including new censorship restrictions.  It may be noted that Google’s search engine is banned in the Chinese market along with its app store, email and cloud storage services. –  Courtesy      /       https://ai.google/education/

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