Editorial

Fraudulent duplication

Acts of fraud in the running of higher education institutions is almost a given; what’s unusual is data being present to prove them. Now, an analysis of names of faculty members submitted for approval to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) by engineering colleges >has shown that around 50,000 ‘duplicate’ teacher names exist on the rolls of more than one college; in an indication of how rampant the practice is, the proportion of engineering colleges in a State that had such ‘duplicate’ teachers ranged from 90 per cent to a hundred per cent. As with much else, India’s official norms for engineering colleges are laudable: undergraduate colleges must have a faculty ratio of 1: 15, and a cadre ratio of 1:2:6 for professors, associate professors and assistant professors respectively. On the ground, as is widely known, the norms are observed only in the breach. So widespread is the ‘sharing’ of teachers to meet the norms that the practice is said to have become organised, with details of agents and teachers known to be ‘for hire’ available in a given city or district. Earlier this year, the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in Hyderabad disaffiliated nearly 150 engineering colleges for insufficient staffing. The Punjab Medical Council found 400 ‘ghost’ teachers enrolled in four private medical colleges. College managements for their part complain that even when they try to follow norms, corruption in the approvals process is rampant.

By 2020, India will be the ‘youngest’ country, its freshly graduating youth propelling the biggest labour force in the world. The bulk among the most educated of this workforce of the future will not come from the IITs and the IIMs, but from the thousands of technical institutes that have sprung up. Just 15 per cent of young people enrol for higher education, a figure the government has been trying to push up. Lakhs of students are entering technical education courses, some aspiring to be the first engineers and doctors in their families, at considerable financial cost. But by not ensuring that adequate numbers of teachers are available, let alone monitoring the quality of teaching, India is not doing right by its youth. Only a fifth of all Indian graduates are employable, a range of surveys by corporate hirers over the last three years has shown, and the poor quality of teaching is one of the causes. The facts are hiding in plain sight; a special investigation by The Hindu into this state of affairs was based on data from the AICTE’s own website, analysed by the open data website ‘Factly’. The apex body governing technical education never thought to do a simple search of its own database, it would appear. It remains to be seen whether governments at the Centre and in the States will act on this.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 6:58:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/editorial-on-faculty-data-fraud-fraudulent-duplication/article7198471.ece

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