Government should take a serious view of the expert committee report so that students benefit

Engineering fee hike issue has inadvertently brought to focus again the quality of education extended in the state. That it is much below the expectations of the industry and the Government itself was substantiated with facts and figures by the three member high level committee consisting of K. Lakshminarayana, the then Commissioner of Technical Education; D.N. Reddy, the then JNTUH Vice-Chancellor and N. Prakasa Rao, Academic Auditor and Mentor in the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQUIP).

The recent National Employability Report too revealed the pathetic picture of technical education in the country and more so in the State. The results of different JNTUs too gave similar indications with huge number of failures in core engineering subjects and poor performance of students in Physics and Mathematics, which are vital in engineering education. However, the Government conveniently ignored the suggestions made by its own committee for improving quality.

The High Level Committee in fact made some interesting observations and also provided solutions to put academics back on track in the colleges. “One of its several recommendations was to grade the colleges and had it been done the fee hike issue would not have turned into a problem affecting the admission schedule itself,” reminds a senior officer of the Higher Education Department. “Now the same suggestions are being used to threaten colleges with action in the name of ordinance,” agrees a key member of the Engineering Colleges Managements Association.

The report suggested several parameters to grade the colleges, which still can be done, in the interest of future batches. The report recommended that each college be evaluated on a 1,000 point scale with maximum points allocated for infrastructure (150), faculty (150) and teaching-learning modes (150). Giving due importance to publication of research papers by the faculty and students, and admission of meritorious students in that particular college were key points suggested for placing a college in the group.

Colleges that are alleged to be surviving just on fee reimbursement scheme would have at least made some effort to encourage their faculty towards research, which is almost nil in majority colleges. In fact, colleges were engaging B.Techs as lecturers and the report revealed that three-fourth of the faculty in 150 colleges did not had any teaching experience. It was not limited to new colleges alone but also established colleges.

Similarly, teachers with M.Tech qualification too were every less. In 10 colleges, not a single teacher with a PG exists, while in 17 colleges the number ranges from just one to 20. Only 32 colleges have PG teachers ranging from 100 to 200 on their rolls, the report revealed. The percentage of professors is more appalling. In 136 colleges professors constituted just one to five percent of faculty and six to 10 per cent in another 60 colleges.

Other prominent observations were judging the college related to the admissions of meritorious students. It said students' performance in annual exams and GATE scores achieved by those students should also be counted. In such a scenario, colleges would have made an effort to improve the passes and instituted mechanisms for students to focus on exams like GATE.

Majority of these are not hard to implement, but majority colleges lacked the interest, an official involved in the process said. Since the issue is now in focus, the Government should take a serious view of the report so that students benefit.