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Permanent panel to probe complaints

CHENNAI JUNE 26. Following a series of protests by students of self-financing engineering colleges this week, the Directorate of Technical Education (DoTE) today set up a permanent standing committee to look into complaints against managements and transfer them to other institutions, if necessary.

The committee, constituted on the directions by the Higher Education Secretary, V.K. Subburaj, met soon after its formation to discuss the immediate concerns of re-allotting students of two colleges, which were recently disaffiliated, and enquire into complaints received in the last three days from students of two other institutions.

The panel decided to form a joint inspection team to visit the GGR College of Engineering at Pillayarkuppam, near Vellore, and the PMR Institute of Technology, near Maduravoyal here, whose students have been staging protests on the Anna University premises. The inspections were expected to be completed by Sunday, said the Director of Technical Education, S.K. Prabhakar.

(Recently he said students had started raising their grievances following a university initiative, inviting complaints. Following inspections, the Syndicate last week decided to disaffiliate courses offered by the Sakthi Engineering College, Kancheepuram, and the J.A Institute of Engineering and Technology here for ``serious deficiencies'', and recommend transfer of the students to other colleges. Yesterday, the DoTE decided to convene a joint meeting of the university, the All-India Council for Technical Education, and the management and students of the G. G. R. College.)

While the inspection team will comprise DoTE, AICTE and university nominees, the standing committee has been constituted with the Director of Technical Education as chairperson, and the AICTE southern regional officer, M. Ravichandran, and the university Registrar, S. Ganapathy, as members. Mr. Prabhakar said the long-term agenda of the committee would be receiving and enquiring into complaints by students and streamlining the systems of charging fee for optional courses, cash-based punishments, issuance of acknowledgements and related issues. However, it would give managements and all parties a fair opportunity to state their case.

Meanwhile, an expert committee from the university carried out its second inspection of a self-financing college in as many days. While the Vice-Chancellor, E. Balagurusamy, and a two-member team inspected facilities in the GGR College yesterday, a four-member team visited the PMR Institute of Technology today.

A PMR spokesman said the team inspected laboratories and other facilities, and conducted interviews with staff members, students and parents. He alleged that the charges levelled by students were politically motivated and unfounded. Students of the college had staged a protest in the university demanding transfer to other institutions and complaining against lack of both academic and infrastructural facilities, a high fee structure and the system of high cash-based penalties.

The spokesman, who said he was principal in-charge but refused to give his name, did not deny the system of fines but said it was enforced to ensure discipline. As for infrastructural handicaps, he pleaded that no college was "100 per cent perfect and we will definitely rectify the deficiencies".

Anna University sources confirmed the inspections but said the outcome could be revealed only later.

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