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New monitor for tech schools

- UGC gives universities full power for quality control in colleges

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The UGC today approved a regulation giving universities absolute power over quality control in technical education, including engineering, management and pharmacy.

The universities will examine parameters such as infrastructure, faculty strength, admission process, lab and library facilities, etc, of colleges proposing to run these courses before granting them approval.

This was done by the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) till the Supreme Court stripped it of its regulatory powers last April.

In the case of “Association of Management of Private Colleges versus AICTE”, the apex court had ruled that affiliated colleges of a university need not take approval from the AICTE. The universities and the UGC were the appropriate bodies to regulate technical courses, it had said.

The court ruled that the AICTE was an advisory body and would advise the UGC on quality standards. It said that MBA was not a technical course, and the AICTE’s permission was not required to run it.

The AICTE used to give approval to engineering and management courses of various institutions every year to enable them to admit students for the next academic session.

The HRD ministry’s attempts to overrule the court order by amending the AICTE act have not fructified yet. A senior official said the Centre would try to push an amendment bill with a specific provision saying the AICTE has the power to regulate technical education. Till that happens, the universities will remain the absolute regulator under the guidance of the UGC.

There are nearly 10,000 engineering and management colleges affiliated to some 60 universities in the country. The AICTE had put in place an online system for monitoring of institutions and their facilities.

Private institutes today appeared sceptical whether universities would have “adequate staff and resources” to successfully monitor engineering institutions.

“There are many universities which do not have adequate staff to conduct regular activities like examinations, publication of results, etc. I wonder how they will regulate standards in thousands of technical colleges,” said H. Chaturvedi, the director of Birla Institute of Management and Technology, a Noida institute.

A UGC official said the regulation approved today was similar to the mechanism followed by the AICTE. The regulation was finalised after taking the views of private institutions, he added.

However, G. Viswanathan, the president of the Education Promotion Society for India, an association of private institutions, claimed the UGC had drafted its regulation for technical institutions without consulting the stakeholders —state governments, colleges and universities.

“The affiliating universities have not been consulted by the UGC. We will appeal to the HRD ministry to put the regulation in abeyance and hold proper consultation,” Viswanathan said.

The regulation will be notified after ratification by the HRD ministry. Sources said the regulation would likely be cleared as there was little time left to fine-tune it. Approvals are normally given between September and December.