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Code for tech colleges

New Delhi, Nov. 24: Substandard private engineering colleges may no longer find it easy to cheat students. The Centre has stepped up its drive to get the more than 6,000 technical institutes spread across the country to clean up their act.

The All India Council of Technical Education ' the apex body supervising technical institutions ' today laid down a “code of conduct” to make the burgeoning sector “transparent and accountable”.

Colleges that fail to comply could find themselves out of what has become an increasingly lucrative business.

One of the pivots of the reforms is a change in the inspection system.

The institutes now mostly have prior knowledge of the inspection and do their best to cover up their poor infrastructure and faculties.

“There will be surprise visits to ensure the maintenance of norms and standards. Violation of these would lead to punitive and legal action,” the council says.

The institutes must disclose their infrastructure, faculty composition and laboratory facilities so that students can make an “informed” choice. Now, it is left to an inspection team to discover the flaws.

Last year, 90,000 seats in private technical colleges went vacant. Students refused to take admission to colleges that fell below even their moderate expectations.

Officials say the institutions in their brochures offer an attractive menu of new courses, impressive faculties and laboratory facilities. But spot visits have revealed the extent of fraud being committed on students.

In June, the council was forced to slash 38,000 seats because the institutions did not meet the basic criteria.

The new guidelines say: “The decision to grant approval will be given throughout the year and will be valid for two academic sessions.”

Approval will depend on the institutes’ degree of compliance with the code.

“No technical institution of the government, government-aided or private shall have any additional intake of students, increase/variation of courses or programme without the council’s prior approval,” says the code.

The council also says the institutions should adopt “realistic norms” and be “affordable and accessible”.

Students, officials say, now have to pay Rs 1,40,000 every year on an average. Each course runs for four years.

Between February and March this year, the council inspected 5,000 institutions and prepared a 75-page dossier. The picture that emerged was grim.

The “areas of serious concern” touched every aspect: faculty short on quality and quantity, absence of qualified principals, poor teachers’ salary, overcrowding, unapproved programmes, poor laboratories and Internet connectivity, and absence of drinking water, toilets and canteens.

In September, the council withdrew approval to two courses in the well-known Amity Business School in Noida after inspectors found the institution violating norms and guidelines.

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