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A step in the right direction

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WITH AN EYE ON QUALITY: The AICTE initiative will usher in better quality of education in technical institutions. - Photo: Mahesh Harilal
WITH AN EYE ON QUALITY: The AICTE initiative will usher in better quality of education in technical institutions. - Photo: Mahesh Harilal

N.J. NAIR

The new initiatives of the All India Council for Technical Education to improve quality are being viewed positively in this part of the country.

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) decision to launch new initiatives for quality improvement is expected to bring about a discernible change in the quality of education as well as the functioning of the institutions if implemented in the right spirit.The focus is on making the functioning of the technical institutions more transparent, accessible and accountable to its stakeholders.

Mandatory disclosures

Each institution would have to make a mandatory disclosure so that the students as well as its stakeholders can make a realistic assessment about its functioning and take informed decisions.Approval for the existing programmes would be extended only on the basis of compliance report and mandatory disclosure of the institutions. At the same time, approval for new courses as well as extension would be cleared in a time-bound fashion. The council is learnt to have taken the decision in view of the inordinate delay granting clearance to the ongoing and new programmes. Yet another notable decision is to start random and surprise visits to ensure that the institutions are religiously abiding by the norms, standards and quality laid by the council so that there would not be any dilution in the education standards.The council has categorically stated that its prior approval is imperative for starting a technical institute in the Government, aided or private sector. The same condition applies for enhancement of strength and introducing new courses. Even universities have not been exempted from this clause. Universities have to seek the council's approval for affiliating new institutions and courses.

No-objection certificate

The council has warned of legal action against institutions and universities that function in violation of the council's directive. It has also been clarified that a no-objection certificate from the Government is not required for such ventures.According to Director of Technical Education S.K. Mohan, it was not easy for educational institutions to maintain an alert round the year expecting random inspection from the council. With the proliferation of institutions, a routine check has become difficult for the council and the new proposal might have been mooted for administrative convenience, he says.Though the council says that a no-objection certificate of the Government is not mandatory, a clearance from the Government is indeed necessary for the functioning of an institution. The Government does not have any direct control over the self-financing colleges, but once the students air their grievances, the DTE is directed to probe the complaints. Corrective measures can easily be taken in the case of those institutions that have an NoC of the Government. It is also necessary for getting Governmental support, he says.According to Ashalatha Thampuran, principal of Mohandas Engineering College, Thiruvananthapuram, the new proposals, if implemented in the right earnest, would definitely go a long way in improving the quality of education. These initiatives would be welcomed by those institutes that are being run professionally, but would be a rude jolt for those resorting to short-cuts.By deciding to go in for instant inspection, the council would be able to check ad-hocism in the case of the teaching faculty as well as infrastructure facilities, mainly computers.With the proliferation of technical institutes, one professor may be a visiting faculty in four institutions. Institutes have to publish the details of the teaching faculty with their pictures.

Vital ratio

According to the rules, the student-computer ratio needed is 1:4. It remains to be seen how many institutes would be able to follow this norm. For every system becomes obsolete within two years and even the best institutes find it difficult to go by the rules in purchasing computers as per the norms. The council proposal that prior approval is mandatory for all new ventures may run contradictory to the provision in the UGC statute that permits universities to start any course without prior approval. Any university can conduct a course, hold examinations and award degree, but it may not get the approval of the council. The approval may be needed for those pursuing higher studies and seek the scholarship of the council, she says.

Positive move

The decision to grant time-bound approval is considered as a very positive move since there are instances in which institutes have got approval after commencing a course. The delay in giving approval for the extension of a programme may not cause many hardships, as the authorities are sure of getting the clearance at least at a later date. But in the case of new courses, the uncertainty in securing the approval often becomes a matter of concern. The new system would help to end the uncertainty, she says. What remains to be seen is the manner in which the council is going ahead with the new initiatives. Instead of trying to establish its sway over the State Governments and universities, if the council tries to evolve a consensus, the new initiatives would do considerable good to the institutions as well as the students, it was felt.


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