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Name deemed universities not conforming to standards: Central Information Commission (CIC) to AICTE

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Economic Times | By PTI | 31 Aug, 2015 |

NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has asked the All India Council for Technical Education to name and shame deemed Universities which are not maintaining standards.  Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said there is a strong need for the AICTE to inspect deemed universities and institutions offering technical courses and ascertain if they are maintaining standards, and if concluded they are not, their names should be published in official website, so that students are informed about courses and standards. “As per the law and rules, the AICTE has to use its recommendatory power to inform people about the tested standards of courses in various Universities,” he said. Acharyulu directed AICTE to inform the appellant how many institutes are inspected by its teams, how many Universities or institutions are found to be conforming with the standards and norms laid down by AICTE. He also asked the Council to furnish the names of the Universities or institutions informing the general public about their standards or the lack of them.

The case relates to one Neeraj Siwach who sought to know certified copies of all notifications, office order, and basis of according approval to BTech Civil Engineering course by AICTE to which the council had said no prior approval is needed for any course. Acharyulu said though approval is not needed, its disapproval, if found that a particular University is not maintaining required standards, can properly guide students and parents in deciding on the appropriate institution. “The Commission notes that such recommendations are not coming forth from the AICTE and because of that, students and parents are confused while substandard courses are being sold at exorbitant fees. Falling standards of MBA and BTech reflect this inaction strengthening suspicion of corruption everywhere,” he said.- Courtesy

Failing to check falling standards : September 01,2015, | THE HANS INDIA

The AICTE is a statutory body and a national-level council for technical education under the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). It is responsible for proper planning and coordinated development of technical education and management education  system in India. However, it does not inspect universities and institutions offering technical courses and inform whether they are conforming to the standards and norms laid down by it. As such, students and parents are confused as substandard courses are being sold at exorbitant fees. Falling standards of MBA and B Tech reflect this inaction, strengthening suspicion of corruption everywhere. The Central Information Commission held that there is a strong need for the AICTE to inspect the deemed universities and institutions offering technical courses and ascertain if they are maintaining standards, and if it concludes they are not, their names should be published on its official website. The AICTE cannot abdicate that statutory obligation. The MHRD also has to inform whether the National Policy of Education-1986 is being implemented.

All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has a duty to inform how many institutes are inspected by its teams, how many universities/institutions are found to be conforming with the standards and norms laid down by it and furnish the names of the universities or institutions that have displayed in their website about their standards or the lack of them.  Neeraj Siwach has sought under RTI certified copies of all notifications, office order, and the basis of according approval to B Tech Civil Engineering course by the AICTE, showing that the degree awarded by the university concerned is valid for recruitment, promotion etc. The PIO replied that no prior approval is needed for any course from the AICTE.  The First Appellate Authority felt that information could not be provided since the institute was not an AICTE-approved institution. The PIO contended: “Universities can start the technical courses without any prior approval of the AICTE, at their own risk as per the Supreme Court’s decision in Bharatidasan case. However, universities are under obligation to conform to the standards and norms laid down by the AICTE.  Being autonomous, there is no bar for the universities to start technical courses.  Students have to check about the approval or standards of the course.  If they face any difficulties because of lack of AICTE approval for the course, the AICTE will not be responsible.” The AICTE is the statutory body and a national-level council for technical education under the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD).  It was established in November 1945 first as an advisory body and later on in 1987 was given statutory status by an Act of Parliament. It is responsible for proper planning and coordinated development of technical education and management education  system in India. The AICTE accredits postgraduate and graduate programmes under specific categories at the Indian institutions as per its charter.

As stipulated in the National Policy of Education 1986, the AICTE should be vested with statutory authority for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, quality assurance through accreditation, funding in priority areas, monitoring and evaluation, maintaining parity of certification and awards and ensuring coordinated and integrated development and management of technical education. The MHRD constituted a National Working Group to look into the role of AICTE in the context of proliferation of technical institutions. The Group recommended that AICTE be vested with the necessary statutory authority for making it more effective, which would consequently require restructuring and strengthening with necessary infrastructure and operating mechanisms. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 25.04.2013 in CA No.1145/2004 in Association of Management of Private College vs. AICTE & another observed that the role of AICTE was not regulatory and was only advisory/recommendatory one of providing guidance and had no authority empowering it to issue or enforce any sanction by itself. The SC stated: “as per provisions of the AICTE Act and University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, the Council has no authority which empowers it to issue or enforce any sanctions on colleges affiliated with the universities as its role is to provide guidance and recommendations.”

AICTE has been granting approvals to technical institutes and colleges requiring affiliation from universities and the Board of Technical Education. However, in view of the judgment of Supreme Court of India in case of As sociation of Management of Private Colleges vs. AICTE and Adaikalamath College etc Vs. AICTE, the AICTE was not able to initiate any step for starting approval process for technical institutions/colleges affiliated and requiring affiliation from the universities.S Rajendra Babu, Doraiswamy Raju JJ, constituting a Bench of Supreme Court in Bharathidasan University case in 2001 (http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1384523/) stated that the prior approval of AICTE was not necessary for the universities to commence a new department or course and programmes in technical education, but the universities are expected to maintain the standards and norms prescribed by AICTE. The apex court made it clear that the AICTE could cause an inspection of the university to examine the maintenance of standards, saying their conclusion, “…does not mean that they have no obligation or duty to conform to the standards and norms laid down by the AICTE for the purpose of ensuring co-ordinated and integrated development of technical education and maintenance of standards.”  Another important factor is that this judgment pertains to the universities and not technical institutes. It held that a ‘technical institution’ does not include a university.   The AICTE notified “All India Council for Technical Education (Information for Maintenance of Standards and Conduct of Inspection of Technical Entities of Universities) Regulations, 2012. Rules 3.4, 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 stipulate that AICTE has to report to UGC about the standards of Universities, after verifying information furnished by them, publish names of Universities not maintaining prescribed standards on official website, and report to the State government concerned or the Central government.”

As CIC, I found that the AICTE has a duty to advise the people about the standards of each institution after due inspection. Though approval is not needed, its disapproval, if found that a particular university is not maintaining required standards, can properly guide the students and their parents in deciding on appropriate institution to pursue the education. The Commission notes that such recommendations are not coming forth from the AICTE and because of that the students and parents are confused while substandard courses are being sold at exorbitant fees. Falling standards of MBA and B Tech reflect this inaction, strengthening suspicion of corruption everywhere. There is a strong need for the AICTE to inspect the deemed universities and institutions offering technical courses and ascertain if they are maintaining standards, and if it concludes they are not, their names should be published on its official website. As the statutory bodies like AICTE are not evaluating the educational institutions, private bodies and news magazines are granting them ranks for marketing and commercial purposes, leading to confusion among the students and parents.  The crux of RTI question was: Whether the academic institutions are being assessed? The AICTE cannot abdicate that statutory obligation. The MHRD also has to inform whether the National Policy of Education 1986 is being implemented. Courtesy


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