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It has been 19 years since the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) came into existence and quite shockingly, the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) report by the Ministry of Human Resource Development reveals that the university has no PhD students and has no earning from patents as well. While the university has produced many tech-savvy students, research as a whole has not been given importance in the biggest technological university in the state. The NIRF report in its PhD students details revealed that no students are pursuing doctoral programme till the academic year 2016-17. But, there are 106 part-time students as per the reports. What led to this situation at the tech varsity? Jagannath Reddy, registrar of VTU, told BM, “There was no provision in the university to pay the doctoral students’ stipend all these days. Monthly, we have to pay and earlier students were not taken for this reason ultimately because there was no provision. Also, they must quit the job and pursue PhD. So only part-time PhD was happening. Now, the research work will start.”
The earning from patents (IPR) section also reveals that from 2014 to 2017, three consecutive financial years, the university has received no single penny. Reddy said, “These patents are basically those who are enrolled in colleges. We did not have it all these years and only from past three and half years we have got full-time staff and recently we have received 12(B) University status, this will start the process now.” An expert said, “It is quite shocking not because there were no PhD students all these years, it is shocking how all these years the provisions were not made and why all these years the managements which have come and gone did not even look into the research field in VTU.” Not just that, the annual capital expenditure on academic activities and resources also show some stunning numbers. VTU has not spent a single penny towards the new equipment for laboratories in 2016-17. But, in 2015-16, the varsity has spent around 37 crore and in the year 2014-15 it has spent around 13 crores. Reddy added, “From the last one-and-a-half years, we have been working out on this and around Rs 10 crore has been budgeted for the expenditure for new equipment for laboratories. We are doing it and we will get it done this year..” The expenditure on teachers and non-teaching staff salaries too has seen a major change. In 2014-15, the varsity spent around 68 crore on annual salaries and in 2015-2016 it spent a whopping Rs 86 crore and in 2016-17 it spent only Rs 65 crore. Why only last academic year there was a dip? Reddy said, “Previously, the contract and outsourced faculty was also calculated as part of teachers’ salaries. Even now if we add the contract staff it will go up to 80 crores. But, as of now, these people are not included and this year it is coming up to 72 crores for teaching, non-teaching and University BDT College of Engineering (UBDTCE), Davangere, a constituent college of VTU staff.” – Courtesy
In 19 years, Visvesvaraya Technological University earns nothing from patents, The New Indian Express, Rashmi Belur | Express News Service | 16th January 2018 |
BENGALURU: It has been 19 years, and the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Belagavi, the only Technical University of the state, has not earned a single rupee from patents since its inception. This has been revealed in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), which was released by Union Ministry for Human Resource Development recently. As per the report, the earning of VTU through patents is zero. Although it is not mandatory for a university to get a particular number of patents, when compared to its own affiliated colleges and autonomous colleges, it is far from getting patents. “Being a university, we should definitely have got more patents. Shortage of regular faculty members was a major hindrance,” said a senior official of VTU.
‘Lack of earnings’ from patents is a reflection of lack of research activities by faculty members at the university. Faculty members are the ones who generally apply for patents of their research work. “As there was a shortage of regular faculties at the university, it was difficult for us to apply for patent. Each faculty member has to apply individually for patents for the research work done by them. The university received permission to hire regular faculties three years ago. This year onwards, we will apply for patents,” said the official. Another reason for the university’s failure to get patents was non-availability of 12 (B) status all these years. Recently, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted 12 (B) status to VTU, under which the university will now be eligible to apply for Central funds, which also includes earnings from patents. – Courtesy
Hindustan Times | Shreya Bhandary | Jan 06, 2018 | Opinion |
Highlight how it no longer has the prestige it earlier did, as students choose courses that offer better options
Blame it on tougher competition or lack of job opportunities after a degree, engineering institutes, including the premier Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), are increasingly complaining about the declining demand for their courses. The fall in demand has also automatically reflected in the rising number of vacant seats in engineering institutes across the country. Many experts highlighted how an engineering degree no longer has the prestige it earlier did, and this could be one of the reasons for the declining number of JEE aspirants over the years. “Students are very clear about the institute they want, especially for the quality of education it imparts. If they don’t get a seat in a good institute of their choice, they’d rather choose something else more lucrative and interesting to do instead of struggle in an institute which cannot promise them the best education,” said Devang Khakkar, director of IIT-Bombay. Some also felt the increasing level of difficulty of the JEE exams is another reason for the drop in demand for JEE. “Students prefer state-conducted Common Entrance Tests (CETs) compared to an all-India exam because that gives them a chance at engineering institutes closer home, and the level of difficulty is less compared to JEE,” said Pravin Tyagi, founder and director of Pace Junior Science Colleges. Of the 10,988 seats in 23 IITs in 2017, the number of vacant seats stood at 121, up from 96 in 2016 and 50 the year before that. Similarly, 36% of the 1.31 lakh seats available in engineering institutes in Maharashtra had no takers in 2017-18. However, this lack in demand is limited to only certain branches of engineering, said another head of an engineering institute.
Colleges also said that some courses like electronics and telecommunications are losing popularity, leading to higher number of vacant seats for these courses. These courses account for the highest number of closures across the country, according to the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). “It’s not that engineering altogether is losing its sheen, but the fact that certain branches of engineering have become defunct over the years. Branches that do not promise steady jobs after the degree are seeing very few takers, whereas other branches are overflowing with applications,” said Dhiren Patel, director, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga, Mumbai. In December 2017, the AICTE announced that it might allow mergers of institutes, especially those struggling to fill vacant seats for some time. The decision has been welcomed by many, especially since the AICTE was previously planning to shut down institutes with zero enrolment in the past five years. – Courtesy
Economic Times | ET Now| Dec 20, 2017 | Opinion | Edited excerpts |
In an interview with ET Now, Rishad Premji , Chief Strategy Officer, Wipro, says there is always employability for relevant skills.
What is your view on skilling in IT sector?
Given how much change is happening in the technology space, the lifespan of skills is becoming much shorter and as a consequence the need to upgrade faster is that much more important. Upgrading of skills, moving your capabilities into new skill areas is very, very important and organisations and the IT industry is very focused on helping people get there. Reskilling of people to move into new technology areas is a big focus today.
While it is about doom and gloom and hiring at Nasscom that you are part of, you sort of clarified, that there are enough jobs. Would you really put the onus there on jobs while it is the right skill set that is really required now?, It is not as bad as it is really made out to be?
There is always employability for relevant skills. Look I think there is a still a lot of growth potential in the industry from an employment standpoint as well. The speed may not be as fast as it has been historically but certainly there is an opportunity for growth. You have seen what the industry added last year which is 150,000 people net jobs. I think it will add a similar number this year. There is still a lot of growth in the industry both in terms of overall revenue growth and employability.
Be optimistic. There is huge opportunity in terms of what your engineering degree can do for creating employment whether it be with IT services companies, some of the product companies or in the start-up ecosystem. I would be quite optimistic if I am an engineer in India even today.
Be optimistic. There is huge opportunity in terms of what your engineering degree can do for creating employment whether it be with IT services companies, some of the product companies or in the start-up ecosystem. I would be quite optimistic if I am an engineer in India even today. – Courtesy
Deccan Herald | DH News Service | Bengaluru | Dec 18 2017 | Opinion | Engineering colleges in Karnataka upbeat over AICTE move to cap fee |
The Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association (KUPECA) has welcomed the move by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to fix a minimum and maximum fees for engineering colleges across the country. The AICTE has assigned the task to a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice B N Srikrishna, who had previously headed a committee that had submitted recommendations on capping fee for professional colleges. Welcoming the move, secretary of KUPECA, M K Panduranga Setty said that this would be a relief to colleges in the state. Every year, the state government fixes the fee for CET and ComedK seats through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with private colleges. Setty said that this was not being done in a scientific manner. “The fee that the state government fixes is very low. It does not cover our costs. They are not enough even to pay our teachers, especially when taking the 7th Pay Commission into account,” he said. Last year, the state government had capped the fee for engineering courses at Rs 55,000 for CET candidates and Rs 1.7 lakh for ComedK candidates.
“The fee cannot be the same for every college. Colleges with better facilities, infrastructure, and colleges approved by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) should be allowed to charge more. The recommendations that the Justice B N Srikrishna committee had made took these things into account. So, we expect reasonable rules,” Setty said. Dr S Kumar, chancellor of D Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and Research, Kolar, said that the move would also benefit students. “Every year there are so many instances of students paying the prescribed fee through the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA) and then when they go to the college for admission, they are forced to pay extra fee in the name of lab fee and so on. This is not a fair practice. Hopefully, the AICTE will be able to ensure that the fee rules are not violated,” he said. Shravan Kumar, a final year engineering student said that the move will ensure that students pay only for the education and facilities they get. “Colleges which have poor placement records have the same fee as colleges with very good placement and facilities. A fee structure that takes quality and infrastructure into account is welcome,” he said. – Courtesy
The Times of India | Nirupa Vatyam | TNN | Dec 18, 2017 | Opinion |
HYDERABAD: The All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE) decision to have uniformity in norms for all engineering colleges in India has not gone down well with college managements as they feel this move would put unequals in the same categories. They said that if a college has to follow all the norms listed in AICTE Approval Process Handbook (APH) 2018-19, it would cost at least Rs 1.55 lakh per student, which would, in turn, take engineering education away from common. “Generally, the colleges are defined into three categories, the colleges which seek the provisional annual extension, the ones which are accredited or autonomous or who apply for permanent affiliation and the third category, which are deemed universities. While the first category gets some relaxation in norms, the colleges in the second category have to meet minimum requirements, the one in the third category have to meet more than minimum norms.
Now, AICTE released uniform norms for all colleges in different categories and this creates unequal competition,” said KVK Rao, General Secretary, All India Federation of Engineering Colleges. He said that it is not wise on the council’s part to ask colleges charging Rs 35,000 per annum to have same facilities as the one charging Rs 1.5 lakh per annum and called AICTE norms unreasonable. The college management further questioned how AICTE can make cadre ratio mandatory and opined that no college can compel with this norm. “If we have to recruit professors, assistant professors, and lecturers in 1:2:6 ratio then recruiting them will alone cost about Rs. 1.38 lakh. When the highest fee in the state is Rs. 1.16lakh, how can the council expect us to spend on teaching faculty alone,” said Rao adding that it is also insane on council’s part to ask colleges to double the number of labs within a span of few months. N Yadaiah, registrar of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University Hyderabad, under which most of the engineering colleges in the state are affiliated, on the other hand, said that it is a must on every college’s part to follow norms to impart quality education. “If the colleges don’t even have basic required number of labs and faculty, how will they provide quality education to students. The colleges need teachers with experience and this move will help all the students as they get to learn from the best,” said Yadaiah. – Courtesy
Money Control News | Dec 11, 2017 | Opinion |
AICTE data suggests that less than half the of engineering students in the country have got jobs through campus placement over the last five years.
Technical education institutions in India, particularly those that offer BE (bachelor of engineering) and B Tech (bachelor of technology) courses, are running at 49 percent capacity, according to a report by the Financial Express. The report also stated that according to data from All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), less than half the students passing out of these courses have found job via campus placements in the last five years. The job placement figure is even worse if you see only the standalone figure for last year, which stood at a paltry 40 percent. After a series of extremely disappointing numbers like these, the apex technical education body of the country – the AICTE – is now considering asking colleges with less than 70 percent occupancy to wind up and shut shop. This shocking situation also gained prominence after various reports online suggested that the quality of education in the country is worsening. The reasons for such a poor state of affairs are various, including corruption at various levels, poor infrastructure facilities like labs, and lack of skilled teaching faculty.
Factors like these are hampering the quality of graduates these colleges are churning out every year. External factors like poor connections with an industry body add insult to injury. However, industry stalwarts have a different take on the story. RC Bhargava, Chairman of Maruti Suzuki, who is also Chairman of IIT Kanpur, was quoted by Financial Express as saying, “Most of the graduates don’t know the basics of engineering. The reason these vacancies keep increasing is because graduates can’t find jobs. That’s because employers don’t think they are worth employing. Most people will tell you that 80 percent of engineering graduates are not employable.” Experts also blame market factors for this situation. In the wake of the dotcom bubble during the late 90s and early 2000s, when the IT industry saw a rush of software-related jobs, companies were in dire need of engineers. The situation was so grave that employers even chose to ignore a candidate’s branch of engineering, if he or she could code. DK Subramaniam, professor at IISc, said that private players have now stepped up in order to keep pace with the booming demand but government institutions have stayed away from the software engineering branch. Although this helped calm things down back then, the situation turned serious when scrupulous institutions started cropping up by the hour. The situation has resulted in a vicious circle in which low quality engineers are forcing the industry to hire less. Reduced demand in turn results in lower number of people choosing to enter the field. Unless and until universities step up their game, courses like BE and B Tech will continue turning more and more unviable by the day. – Courtesy
Engineering colleges vacant seats: Students alert! The horrific nature of the situation revealed
The Financial Express | December 12, 2017 |
That engineering colleges across the country have failed for some years to fill their seats was known—but over half the seats in the country remaining vacant in 2016-17 is shocking indeed.
That engineering colleges across the country have failed for some years to fill their seats was known—but over half the seats in the country remaining vacant in 2016-17 is shocking indeed. As per The Indian Express, 51% of the over 15 lakh seats in over 3,900 engineering colleges in India had not been filled last year. There are many factors to blame, from an explosion of career choices, professional courses and relevant employment opportunities to the general decline in demand for engineers, mainly in the IT sector. The IT sector fuelled the mushrooming of engineering colleges in the country; as the nature of IT employment changed over the years with greater focus on technologies like cloud and digital—and automation entered the workplace—appetite for engineering courses that geared one for a traditional IT job waned. Similarly, employment opportunities in other engineering disciplines had also thinned—somewhat compensated by IT till a few years ago—except for a few core disciplines like mining/metallurgy, civil, mechanical, etc. However, engineering education has been hit the hardest by lax quality-checks even as engineering institutes proliferated. As a result, recruiters have gotten very selective over the last couple of years—the IT boom had meant the exact opposite. Various studies finding a large chunk of engineering students unemployable—the oft-cited Aspiring Minds study found 80% of 150,000 engineering students across 650 engineering institutions unfit for engineering jobs—has only highlighted the problem, making recruiters even more cautious about quality. Most of the blame for this lies at the door of the technical education regulator, AICTE. The AICTE has been more than generous with granting approval even as it has turned a blind-eye to the infrastructure and instruction quality at the institutions it approved. Many well-meaning experts have suggested putting a moratorium on AICTE approvals for some years. However, that is no solution because such a move will also choke off creation of educational infrastructure in a country that is looking to improve its gross enrolment ratio in the tertiary education age population. Instead, setting strict standards of quality for approval and cancelling the approval of existing institutions that fail to meet these—perhaps through a new regulatory framework—works better. – Courtesy
The New Indian Express | S Vaidhyasubramaniam | 12th December 2017 | Opinion |
My phone finally stopped ringing after a series of calls from my students and well-wishers. Everybody had one question: “Since the Supreme Court has disallowed deemed universities from using the word ‘university’, what will be the validity of the degrees issued so far and what is the course of action?” I told everybody that the past, present and future degrees are valid as per Section 22 of the The University Grants Commission Act, 1956 (UGC Act) and the course of action would be based on a recall of the past and understanding of the present. Let us begin with the past. The First Education Commission report of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1948-49) devoted a chapter on the genesis of deemed universities. The report recommended that the government evolve a method of creating university charters similar to many countries, where universities are set up not through acts of legislature but through charters granted by the head of the state. Thus was born the concept of deemed university under Section 3 of the UGC Act. As recommended by the commission, the National Commission for Higher Education and Research Bill which unfortunately got derailed, aimed for a permanent parliamentary solution to the deemed university nomenclature. The need to fix this was born out of a legitimate concern from global peers who constantly wanted to know “when will deemed universities become universities?” not knowing that they are universities for all practical purposes.
This deemed university conundrum was discussed by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Prem Chand Jain vs R K Chabra, (1984) in which the court left it to the Centre to interpret or amend, if necessary Section 23 of the UGC Act. Empowered by this order, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) directed the UGC to form a committee comprising the MHRD Secretary and Chairmen of UGC and AICTE. This committee recommended that since deemed universities are public universities established by an executive charter, they can use the word ‘university.’ Based on this, the UGC during September 2006 allowed deemed universities to use the word university. What appeared to be a settled case, assumed gargantuan proportions in the November 3 order of the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corp. Ltd. Vs Sri Rabi Sankar Patro resulting in the on-going melee. This case was a service matter issue arising out of the validity of engineering degrees offered in distance education mode by only four deemed universities in India. None of the other 120 plus deemed universities were before the SC as the larger issue was not about the deeming fiction which is a subject matter of another batch of cases pending before the apex court. The court was also not made fully aware of the conscious permission of the UGC to use the word ‘university’ pursuant to the liberty granted by the Supreme Court in Prem Chand Jain’s case. Also, the Supreme Court attempted to distinguish the present case from the Bharathidasan University case (2001) delivered by a coordinating bench.
In an attempt to bring clarity to the issue, some deemed universities and associations approached the SC with modification and impleading applications on various grounds including the fact that the interpreter of law allows the interpreter to inquire not into the subjective intent of the author, but rather the intent the author would have had, had he or she acted reasonably. This spirit of purposive construction highlighted by Aharon Barak in Purposive Interpretation in Law, (2007) was appreciated by the Supreme Court in New India Assurance Co. Ltd. vs Nusli Neville Wadia, (2008). The Supreme Court also appreciated the principles of Casus Omissus in UCO Bank vs Rajinder Lal Capoor (2008) which as per G P Singh’s Interpretation of Statutes, is an application of the general principle that a matter which should have been, but has not been provided for in a statute cannot be supplied by courts, as doing so will be legislation and not construction. But all of these arguments advanced before the SC went in vain and the applications were dismissed making the November 3 order—which includes formation of a committee to frame new monitoring mechanism and regulations for deemed universities—effective without any modification. Under these circumstances, the following options in the interest of progressive policy making lie before the Centre and its statutory agencies such as UGC, AICTE, etc.
Action 1: As observed by the SC obiter dicta, the UGC Act of 1956 needs amendment to Section 23 to include deemed universities declared under Section 3 of the UGC Act to also use the word ‘university.’
Action 2: Approval from AICTE for engineering courses made mandatory only for those institutions that were not offering any technical education on the date of conferment of deemed university. This was distinguished by the SC in the present case and the AICTE Act rightly doesn’t include deemed universities in its definition of an institution. This was upheld by a coordinating bench of the Supreme Court in the Bharathidasan University case. A subordinate regulation to rope in all deemed universities not only needs an amendment of the AICTE Act but will also be a retrograde measure.
Final recommendation: Amend to oxygenate and not mend to strangulate. – Courtesy
The Hindu | December 09, 2017 | Opinion |
‘Students and employers will begin to question the value of a university degree’
Education is set for massive transformation as technology is ushering in a new era in the field of learning, said T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman Aarin Capital. In the new scheme of things the student would be at the core and would decide as well as create her/his own degree at one’s own pace and medium. Mr. Pai, former Infosys CFO, and who is also Chairman, Manipal Global Education Services, explains what Education 4.0 is all about. Excerpts:
What is Education 4.0 and why is it important?
Education 4.0 is putting students at the heart of educational experience and creating individual learning experiences. Education 1.0 was the traditional method of students going to a Gurukul in India. Then came the universities as in Takshila and Nalanda in India. Then Universities came up in Europe. Then you had the industrial revolution which demanded a large number of people who could be trained. There, student read books, sat down and listened to the teachers. They had a course, they had a curriculum and then they obtained a certificate to earn a livelihood. In Education 4.0, students can create a degree of their own, are able to do a degree in nuclear science [combining it] with biotechnology, with dance, with music or with fundamental physics or something like that. The mix and match is available and can be done offline or online. A student can sit at home do a course online and get a degree. So, in Education 4.0 students can design their own course, learn offline or online and they can also make sure that they can learn at their own pace. At the end of it, they obtain a certificate that they can carry to job interviews.
How is it panning out?
It’s already happening in the world. Many students will ask themselves why they need a university degree? Why can’t they do things on their own? Employers will ask what the value of a university degree is? It is happening but slowly in India because lots of people have a common education system and they still want a degree. We see change all over the world and in next 5-10 years we see acceleration and an increase in people taking such certification.
Will things change in India in next 2 to 3 years?
Totally. I see change very slowly but I see a time when many people are well settled. Then we ask the question why I should send my child to college when I can educate him at home and get a certification.
Will Education 4.0 see reality by 2020?
I think around the world it will pick up by 2020 and in India by 2025. Our problem is the government. Our problem is the UGC. And also remember we are long behind the curve… in America, 70% of people go to college, in Germany 80% and in Japan 88% of people go to college.
How do you enhance the quality of education?
For that we need to see which are the best institutes in the world and what the catalyst is. The best institutes are Oxford, Harvard, Cambridge and they are so good because they decide what they want to do. They decide on courses, examinations… No Government and no regulator interference. The U.S. and U.K. governments just give money. We need to give full freedom to the top 100 education institutions and in the next five years we will see a change. We also need public funding for research. The government should have a ₹5,000 crore annual fund for research and all universities should bid for it.
Has the government brought about any reform in the education sector?
The biggest disappointment of the NDA government is that they have not done much in the education sector. Only now since Prakash Javdekar has come in do we see a focus on institutions of national importance
We have not seen many institutions like Manipal….
It is because there is control. Government is not giving approval to private sector people. Those who gave bribes got the approval. At one point, there were 4,500-5,000 engineering colleges in one year. How did they come up? They all gave money. The system is rotten, it’s corrupt, and the bad people got it. Now, we are getting good universities. Jindal has put up a University, now Manipal has been there. And 5 to 6 people are coming up. I think Prime Minister should talk to billionaires of this country to come and up set up a University by putting ₹2000 crore each of their own money because you are a billionaire and can afford to spend.
Can we have Oxford or Cambridge type institutions in India?
We can. Give our universities research and see the magic in 5 years. Give them money for research and ask them to compete. Create a kitty of ₹5000 crore of public money. State and Central Government spend ₹40 lakh crore in a year on education. – Courtesy