Talks with college managements in Feb.

CHENNAI Jan. 28. Even as higher education administrators today briefed the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, on the policy options on this year's admission to professional courses, the Government has decided to hold formal talks with the managements of unaided colleges in early February.

Official efforts received a boost with more colleges agreeing to abide by the government norms for admissions. They were prepared to surrender 50 per cent of their seats to the single window system, provided they are allowed to fill the remaining seats, which would be done in a transparent manner.

The final policy decision will have to depend on the outcome of a meeting of all State-level officials, called by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development in New Delhi for Friday. A special secretary and the Director of Technical Education are expected to participate.

Sources in the Higher Education department said the Government told the university not to dilute its standards and norms for admissions. With growing support for its stance, the Government may soon meet the managements to decide the modalities for admissions, fee structure and methods to continue the reservation system.

In a memorandum to the Education Minister, the Association of Unaided Non-Minority Engineering Colleges, which claimed to represent about 150 institutions, promised to cooperate with the Government in implementing the admission procedure. It would safeguard the interests of the poorer sections and provide reservation for socially backward sections. It urged the Government to follow All-India Council for Technical Education guidelines for admission, which are based only on entrance examination marks. They sought permission for individual colleges to charge a tuition fee of Rs.40,000-Rs.50,000, which would help them maintain academic excellence.

On Sunday, the Tamil Nadu Self Financing Engineering Colleges Association said its member- colleges did not come under the single window system. The State had 229 engineering colleges, with self-financing colleges accounting for about 70,000 of the total 75,000 engineering seats.

The Vice Chancellor, E. Balagurusamy and other officials, felt that the Supreme Court's order might not come in the way of the holding entrance examination. It was for the colleges to join the same and get benefits. According to him, the order stated that the university or the Government could not interfere with an institution's right to admit students, so long as admissions were transparent and merit was taken care of. The right to administer, not being absolute, there could be regulatory measures for ensuring educational standards and maintaining excellence thereof. Even in the case of admissions to unaided institutions, Dr. Balagurusamy noted, the judgment ruled that admissions could not be regulated by the State or the University. Only qualifications and minimum conditions of eligibility in the interest of academic standards could be prescribed. "We still have the scope for prescribing minimum qualifications. The Anna University norms have always been higher than those prescribed by the AICTE, which has not so far been challenged."

By negotiations, the university wants to have a consensus on evolving a differential fee structure - one for government quota seats and the other for management quota seats.

The university and the Government could also consider increasing the sanctioned strength in their colleges to benefit more students.

`TNSFECA stand against social justice'

By Our Staff Reporter

Coimbatore Jan. 28. The Association of University Teachers, Tamil Nadu, has expressed "serious concern" at the announcement by the Tamil Nadu Self-financing Engineering Colleges Association that its member-colleges would not follow the single window system of admission in the coming academic year.

In a statement here, N. Senthamarai, State president, AUT, said that the system, introduced in 1997, was able ensure a "semblance of social equity among aspirants for technical education".

However, the TNSFECA announcement would "throw the entire admission process out of gear."

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