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VTU says eight ‘niche’ courses are equal to traditional engineering degrees

Economic Times |Bharath Joshi |  , ET Bureau |  Apr 26, 2017  |

BENGALURU: With some niche engineering courses facing an identify crisis, the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) is considering certifying them as equivalent to a degree in traditional courses. The move is expected to help graduates who have passed out of niche courses but are shunned by the industry during recruitment. Students with these niche degrees -information science, for instance -find it difficult to get a job. The university will now certify it as equivalent to computer science, with which it shares similar syllabus. “Students faced an identity problem with some of the courses. The industry wanted to know the equivalence of some specific courses,“ VTU Registrar HN Jagannath Reddy said. The university often faced queries from recruitment bodies such as the Karnataka Public Service Commission who sought clarity on the relevance of these degrees, he said.  The VTU had introduced eight niche streams –automobile engineering, industrial production, tool engineering, transportation engineering, construction technology and management engineering, information science engineering, electronics and instrumentation engineering. Besides these, traditional streams such as mechanical, civil, computer science, information technology and electronics and communications are also on offer.

Experts point out that colleges carve out new courses from existing ones if only to increase admission numbers. The information science and engineering course is a classic example. “The syllabus for this course is 95% similar to computer science and engineering,“ BMS College of Engineering principal Mallikharjuna Babu K said, hailing the university’s move. A dozen colleges in Karnataka closed down this course since 2015. According to CMR Institute of Technology (CMRIT) principal Sanjay Chitnis, this is in line with the trend of closing down or mapping courses with existing ones.“There is over-specialisation at the undergraduate level, which is supposed to focus on the basics,“ he said. Chitnis cited the example of electronics and communications engineering and telecommunication engineering courses offered by CMRIT like many other colleges.“They are 90% similar but recruiters specifically ask for electronics and communications graduates.“  H Karan Kumar, head of IT consulting and management group Shruth & Smith Holdings, agreed.“Traditional degrees are better understood by universities overseas and many corporates in their talent acquisition process,“ he said .  Courtesy

AICTE, Stanford hold online test to judge engineering education

The Times of India | Ramendra Singh | TNN | Apr 27, 2017 |

Students of IES College giving test for online survey conducted by AICTE and Stanford University

Students of IES College giving test for online survey conducted by AICTE and Stanford University

BHOPAL: A private college from Bhopal, IES Institute of Technology and Management was selected for an online test organized jointly by All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) in association with Stanford University. The test, is a part of national survey to assess quality of education in technical colleges.  The test sought students’ response on their basic understanding of core branches and quality of studies being imparted in their colleges.  Survey is the result of feedback about poor standards of engineering education in the country which produces lakhs of engineering graduates every year. Almost 50% of them fail to get a job, a survey said.  Depending on the results, AICTE will decide where and how to intervene to improve education standards. The online test comprises technical skills in physics, mathematics, informatics, critical thinking, creativity and quantitative literacy skills.  Sources said other colleges from state are being also involved to conduct such tests. PRO, IES College, Nitin Chaurasiya said the test in their college is being conducted from April 17 to April 30.

“It is a part of international study to understand and improve quality of technical education received by youth in large economies like China, Russia, Korea, Japan and India,” said Chaurasiya. Students, who appeared in the test said focus was to know as what kind of studies are being provided in the college. “There were two pages wherein 35 questions each were asked. Questions were to judge the basic knowledge about physics and mathematics. Besides, there were other 36 pages wherein questions were asked about the college facilities and competence of teaching faculty,” said first year student of computer science branch, Slesha Nidhi. Another student who had appeared in the test, Shubhankar Tiwari of final year electronics branch said, “It was choice-based test. Even in few questions students were asked to grade the college regarding engineering studies.” – Courtesy

Memorandum of Understanding between AICTE and Clarivate Analytics to Drive Research Excellence in AICTE approved Academic Institutions

Memorandum of Understanding between AICTE and Clarivate Analytics to Drive Research Excellence in AICTE approved Academic Institutions

Click here to View / Download  :      www.aicte-india.org/downloads/mou_signed_aicte_clarivate_25_4_17.pdf

How self-financing colleges lost the course – Crisis in Engineering Education: Tamil Nadu

The Hindu Business Line | Chennai, April 26 |  R BALAJI  |   SWATHIMOORTHY  |  Opinion |

There is a mismatch in what the industry demands and the talent that is on offer

Representational Image

No student has been admitted to 23 private colleges, including two teaching architecture, this year. Just 14 colleges have filled their entire allocation of sanctioned seats. In between are 50 colleges that have not been able to fill even 10 per cent of their sanctioned seats, and over 250 colleges have less than half the number of students they are allowed to handle.  At least 20 colleges in Tamil Nadu have opted to close and are part of 250 country wide, according to reports.  Many of these self-financed colleges are simply not financially viable. Many that are pulling on do not have the wherewithal to offer quality education. For instance, engineering colleges lack sufficient infrastructure such as well-equipped labs to keep up with the changing trends. Due to this gap, they lose out to the ones that are financially stable. It is one of the main reasons why deemed universities are doing well, says V Balu*, an engineering college faculty in Tirunelveli. An administrator from a college in Kanyakumari, says. “Our admissions have come down by half. But the founder has different business interests because of which we are able to run the college,”These colleges are backed by politicians, businessmen (mostly in real estate) and religions institutions with deep pockets.

Capitation fees

One good news is that the exorbitant capitation fees are no longer the norm. According to an engineering college faculty, around five years ago, the capitation fee for reserving seats in engineering colleges ran to lakhs of rupees — over ₹6 lakh for Mechanical and Civil Engineering and ₹1 lakh for Information Technology. Now things have changed for better, at least in majority of the colleges. It makes sense, considering how colleges are struggling to fill their seats every year. The focus is now on attracting more students for the fixed fee set by the University.  Balu said the starting salary for teachers too have come down in the past five years as admissions decreased. “Initially, most colleges gave a salary of ₹19,000-33,000 for a fresher. But now that has come down to ₹12,000-14,000. In addition, professors are forced to bring 2-3 students each for admission or they face a pay cut of close to three months,” he said.  Sundar Ram*, a faculty in the mechanical engineering department of another college, concurs. He has been instructed to find three students for the upcoming academic year. “We try to find scholarship students from Scheduled Caste or Tribes or first-generation graduates, who are eligible to get free education,” he added. “When you cut the pay and commercialise education, quality faculty will leave the institution for a better job. The seats are then filled by mediocre staff and ones who are fresh out of college,” Ram said.

The mismatch

The issue is the mismatch in what the industry or job market demands and what is on offer. Also, the “perception of quality” of these colleges among students is a reason for applicants not choosing them, said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.  The issue is not self-financed institutions, which effectively expanded the capacity of technical education over the past three decades in the State. This had happened after the then MG Ramachandran Government in Tamil Nadu allowed establishment of private-sector colleges in 1983.  In these years, the number of government-run engineering colleges has remained at three, government-aided colleges at 10 and constituent colleges of Anna University at 17. The rest of the 584 are all self-financed. These institutions contributed to Tamil Nadu becoming a major hub for Information Technology and manufacturing by providing skilled human resource.  But times have changed. IT companies have cut down on recruitments and are also settling for less qualified applicants. They are able to train diploma holders and arts and science graduates for the same jobs that engineering graduates did and at a lower salary, the official said. Many courses have become redundant. Apart from the demand to shut down institutions, “we are flooded with applications to shut down courses,” an official said.

Market assessment

A senior official said AICTE needs to do a continuous, close analysis of the courses and the potential number of skilled persons needed by the industry annually. There are just 5-7 branches that are in demand by the students. Students see their seniors in a well-placed position and opt for the course, but by the time they graduate the marketplace changes.  “We need a better assessment of the job market and assist students at the school level when they choose courses,” the official said.  Students are not given the market data to make an informed choice. Typically, the best and the brightest, as decided by the exam marks-based system, opt to study medicine; the next rung chooses engineering followed by commerce, and the rest take a range of college courses. Also, the quality of education in schools needs to be addressed in Tamil Nadu, said an educationist. We follow a purely marks-based system and the quality of the syllabus does not match the CBSE’s. The marks scored in the Plus-Two public examinations are the primary criteria for admission into engineering colleges through a single-window counselling system.

NEET solution

This is also why the State government is against a national-level, common entrance exam for engineering colleges, the National Eligibility and Entrance Test, proposed by the Centre, according to educationists.  Students following the Tamil Nadu school syllabus may lose out in a common entrance exam. Self-financed institutions are also concerned about accountability to a central authority if admissions are overseen through a common entrance exam.  But experts believe that shifting to a common entrance test is inevitable for engineering college aspirants just as it has happened for medical colleges.  –   (* Names changed)  –  Courtesy

Crisis in Engineering Education: Time to re-think approach to education

The Hindu Business Line |  Chennai, April 26 |  Swathi Moorthy | Opinion |

Outdated curriculum, lack of soft skills, and automation pose major challenges to students

CHENNAI, 16/04/2011: Aspirants writing the VIT Engineering Entrance Examination at the University’s Chennai campus on Vandalur – Kelambakkam Road on April 16, 2011. Photo: A. Muralitharan

Skill gap

According to a study by Aspiring Minds Research Cell, Tamil Nadu lags in average quality of talent. The study was based on an employability test, AMCAT, taken by 1.2 lakh engineers across India for IT services and related jobs. It stated that though Tamil Nadu is considered an engineering hub, the State’s engineering students’ employability is only 8.33 per cent.  A senior professor in a well-known engineering college in Chennai says: “That is at the core of all the problems the engineering discipline is facing now. Engineering calls for lateral thinking, for students to apply what they have learnt; that is not happening.” When a school student is suddenly faced with a system that is different from what she is habituated to, it is tough to cope. “Curriculum should be changed in such a way that it trains students, right from class VI-XII, to think out of the box and apply what they have learnt,” the professor added.

N Saravanan, an assistant professor from a government engineering college in Kanyakumari, says: “Another issue is the attitude towards knowledge-oriented education. Colleges focus on coaching students just like schools, to get 100 per cent pass percentage. That is what most parents too demand.” Unlike Chennai, where some colleges are taking the initiative to look beyond syllabus, most colleges are text-book focussed and students lack communication skills.  K Thyagarajan, Principal, Ponjesly College of Engineering, Kanyakumari district, said: “Most of our students come from villages in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and some parts of Kerala, and lack soft skills. This is a major challenge when it comes to placements as companies prefer students with good communication skills.” The college has started providing spoken English classes right from the first year. “We are getting good feedback from companies that come for recruitment,” he added.  To enhance technical skills, Anna University is introducing choice-based credit system, where the curriculum is designed based on industry requirements. This allows students to choose inter-disciplinary courses, which is not an option right now. For example, a mechanical student can choose an electrical or a computer science course. Electives too are changing. A faculty from the Centre for University Industry Collaboration, Anna University, says: “We keep changing electives every year based on the current trend, to be in line with industry needs. Now the classrooms are IT-enabled and staff are trained by industry people. This is to make students employment-ready.”

Placement hurdles

But that alone is not enough to ensure 100 per cent placement, as the trend is moving towards product development and automation, from pure services. IT services companies have traditionally been mass recruiters. But in the past few years, fresher recruitment is shrinking across Tamil Nadu as these firms too are looking for niche skills.  According to technical institutions, IT companies are recruiting less people now as they shift increasingly to automation. Companies are looking for niche skills for core product development, and according to JP Jayaprakash Gandhi, a career consultant and analyst, they find students lacking in this area.  For colleges, placement is an important factor as it is directly proportional to the student intake and their reputation.  According to a placement cell staff from Ponjesly, recruitments have not been good this year as only IT services companies are come for campus placements. The college claims to have so far managed to place 70 per cent of its final-year students with salary ranging ₹10,000-50,000.  “Students pay several lakhs of rupees to earn a degree, so they find the salary inadequate, Gandhi says “This is the issue the State is facing right now. We are overproducing engineers who do not have the right skills needed for the industry.” A senior professor from Anna University feels students, right from the beginning, aspire to work in a comfortable environment and are not willing to go to the shop floor. This is causing industries that have huge potential such as textile and leather, to lose out on good talent. “We have about 90 students passing out of textile engineering every year. Since most of the jobs are in rural area, they shift to IT or drop out in the middle of the course. –  Courtesy

NAAC inspections to have less weightage, penalty for fake data

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  | April 25, 2017 |

Image Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Self-collected data submitted by an institute to the NAAC is likely take precedence over physical inspection as the HRD Ministry is planning to overhaul the current accreditation framework. Following complaints of corruption, an 80 per cent weightage has been proposed for self-reported data analysed through software-based capturing and 20 per cent weightage to peer review teams.   Provisions of penalty for institutes submitting “fraudulent” information are also likely to be introduced and the number of parameters may be reduced to make the assessmnt more comprehensive. The HRD ministry is also considering allowing a say of the IITs in granting accreditation to institutes.

The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), which accredits institutes of higher education in the country, had on March 31 suspended the application process till the grading system undergoes an overhaul.  Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, while inaugurating a national consultation of revised accreditation framework, today pressed upon the need for more accreditation agencies.  “If we want to reach the institutes in a time-bound manner and assess them properly, we need more valuators. Therefore we want to set up at least three to four more institutes and we should also give a message to them in this regard,” he said during the consultation.  “We have asked the IITs to be accreditation agencies. There is a council meeting on April 28 where the issue will be taken up. If they want to do it independently we are ready for it,” Javadekar said.  Higher Education Secretary K K Sharma said ensuring quality assessment will not be an easy task and hence international credibility of the revised tools need to be emphasised upon.  “As per the new methodology in deciding the grade of an institute, the peer team assessment of institutes will be given just 20 per cent weightage instead of the current 100 per cent. Eighty per cent weightage will be given to self reported data which can be analysed through software driven data capture,” he said.  “While the number of parameters should be reduced to make the assessment more comprehensive, a third party verification of the data captured online is also required,” he said, adding provisions of penalty for those submitting false data will also be introduced.

The revised framework focuses on augmented use of technology, greater objectivity, and transparency of the process.  “Working groups of experts have deliberated and developed the formats for universities, autonomous colleges and affiliated colleges. The outcome of a pilot study to validate the framework and feedback by stakeholders will also be considered during the national consultation,” a senior HRD Ministry official said.  “Around 100 experts comprising eminent educationists, current and former vice chancellors, directors, statutory bodies, academics, principals of colleges are participating in the consultation, the inputs of which will be used to fine- tune and finalise the revised accreditation framework which is slated to be launched in July,” he added.  According to the new assessment, the institutes will not know in advance which team will visit them and the accommodation and travel plans of the peer team visit will also be outsourced.  – Courtesy

India provides youngest engineering talent in the world: NXP

Economic Times, Auto |

In an exclusive interaction with ETAuto, Lars Reger, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer – NXP Automotive said, “India will be a huge R&D site for us, though we have not yet decided on manufacturing here.”

NEW DELHI: At a time when there is a lot of hue and cry over H1B visas and Indian talent eating the jobs abroad, the $10 billion Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors sees Indian engineers as the largest asset for the company when it comes to R&D and developing complex technology to support autonomous vehicle.  In an exclusive interaction with ETAuto, Lars Reger, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer – NXP Automotive said, “India will be a huge R&D site for us, though we have not yet decided on manufacturing here.” In total, NXP has 15 big R&D centres across the globe out of which three such centres are in India; the biggest one in Noida followed by Bangalore and Hyderabad.  Lars Reger emphasises on the fact that, for the company, the average age of engineers in India is lowest among all other centres which allow them to get the fresh talent and design new things.  “We need people who have fresh knowledge from universities as the technology is getting complex and changing rapidly,” he said. To keep the momentum going the company further plans to hire more than 100 engineers this year in India.

While Indian R&D centres are working closely with the global team, yet it has become a hub for developing complex micro controller used in autonomous and electric cars.  According to Lars Reger, “NXP India is growing at a rate of 11 percent which is much faster than the standard industry growth rate of 6-8 percent globally.” This is because the need to bring electronics for functionality is also increasing at a faster pace here. Lot of regulations like safety and emission norms, demand for infotainment and telematics are also increasing which is further triggering the growth. The company is also working very closely with tier-1 suppliers on radios and immobilizers.  With electrification and autonomous vehicles coming in, the electronic content per car is expected to grow manifold. Currently, in the developed markets like Europe and US, on an average every car has electronic content worth $400 which is expected to double to $800 per cars as the volume of electric cars grows in the next 4-5 years. India still has minimal electronic content per car compared to these nations but expected to grow fastest with changing policy in safety and emission.  The value of electronic content per car will further rise with additional $400 to $1200 of electronic content when self-driving cars become reality in the next 10 years. Thus, NXP which has developed India as its R&D hub will have a massive contribution.  However, as the technology gears up for the next leap the danger of hacking and misuse increases. In such a scenario companies like NXP has big focus towards creating safe and secure environment. “We spend one-third of the expenditure on making the chip and software hackproof,” Lars Reger said. – Courtesy

Delhi High Court stays order upholding JNU admission policy for MPhil and PhD courses based on UGC regulations 2016

Business Standard | Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  April 25, 201 |

The Delhi High Court has stayed its single judge order upholding the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s (JNU) admission policy for MPhil and PhD courses based on the UGC regulations.  The July 2016 regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC) had put a cap on the number of students per professor/supervisor in MPhil and PhD courses in all varsities. A single judge of the high court had held that the JNU admission policy was bound by the UGC regulations and the varsity had to accept them without any deviation.  It had given the finding while dismissing some students’ plea challenging the JNU’s admission policy based on the UGC regulations. 

However, a two-judge bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra, on an appeal filed by the students, has stayed “the effect and operation of the findings on law” of the single judge till April 28.  The bench passed the interim order as the findings of the single judge “would have wide ramifications” and the appellant students had “made out a prima facie case”.  “In view thereof, it is directed that till the next date of hearing, there shall be a stay of the effect and operation of the findings on law of the single judge,” the bench said.  The students, in their appeal, have contended that the single judge had “erroneously granted complete supremacy to the applicability of the UGC Act”.Courtesy

UGC will be useless if its rules are not followed, says Supreme Court

Hindustan Times |  Apr 26, 2017 | Bhadra Sinha |   New Delhi  |

The Supreme Court voiced concern over a string of cases in which educational institutes sought exemption from UGC guidelines.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) would become a useless body if its regulations are not followed by universities, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, voicing concern over a string of cases in which educational institutes sought exemption from the statutory body’s guidelines.  A bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud made the comment while hearing an appeal filed by Lucknow-based Integral University challenging a high court order ousting its vice-chancellor because he was not a distinguished academician as one is required to be under UGC rules. The university told the apex court that it was a minority institution and was therefore under no obligation to follow UGC standards.  The university said it had not adopted the UGC’s regulations, which an earlier SC verdict had made mandatory.

“If the regulations are not adopted, then we are not required to appoint a V-C as per the rules,” advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Integral University, told the bench.  He said a university’s needs have to conform to the regulations established while appointing teachers.  The apex court, however, disagreed with his argument and said it was willing to take a re-look at the two-judge verdict that gave this liberty to universities.  “Qualification of a head of the university has a bearing on the standards of the institution. Power to regulate standards is not just restricted to teaching staff but also its head,” Justice Chandrachud said.  What is left to the management is selection, it said, fixing Wednesday to hear the matter when a larger bench of three judges would be sitting.  An outcome in this matter is bound to have a bearing on Aligarh Muslim University’s (AMU) case which is contesting for autonomy. AMU is defending the appointment of Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah (retd) as the V-C on the ground it was a minority institution and that it never adopted the UGC regulations. – Courtesy

CBSE to conduct NET, confirms UGC

Live Mint | Tue, Apr 25 2017 | Prashant K Nanda |

The status of NET exam had been uncertain after CBSE had written to the HRD ministry earlier this year expressing its inability to conduct the exam.

New Delhi: Ending confusion for nearly 5 lakh students, the University Grants Commission Tuesday said it has convinced the Central board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to conduct the entrance test based on which college and university teachers are recruited.  For the first time in 33 years, the national eligibility test (NET) was facing uncertainly after CBSE had written to the human resource development ministry earlier this year expressing its inability to conduct the exam. Qualification in NET is a must for recruitment of teachers at college and universities. The decision comes even as students groups protested outside the UGC, the higher education regulator, over the last two days regarding the confusion over NET. The NET exam happens twice in every year during December-January and June-July.  “NET will happen in time – at max a week here and there. We have sorted out the issue with CBSE over the NET exam,” V.S. Chauhan, officiating chairman of the UGC said on the sideline of an education event in New Delhi.

Chauhan said CBSE, UGC and HRD ministry had a meeting over the issue and it was pointed out that the previous government had issued an executive order entrusting the CBSE to conduct NET exam. The results also help the UGC in grating junior research fellowships.  CBSE over the last few months had said that due to capacity crunch, it won’t be able to handle a lot of entrance exams. In fact, Budget 2017-18 had a proposal to set up a National Testing Agency to conduct all academic entrance examinations.  In the absence of any national testing body, CBSE conducts major higher education related entrances apart from school leaving exams at Class 10 and Class 12 level for CBSE affiliated schools.  It conducts the Joint Entrance Exam-main (JEE Main) for engineering schools including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and the National Eligibility Test for UGC (UGC-NET) for selecting professors in college and university system.  It also conducts the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) for appointment of teachers across several states. It is also in charge of conducting the single medical entrance test for admission to all MBBS courses. – Courtesy

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