Thursday, September 06, 2012

SC case against AICTE: B-schools seek compromise

Management institutes, which dragged the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to the Supreme Court, now wish to withdraw their case. But the AICTE is in no mood to relent. Last February, the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS) and Jaipuria Group of Institutions filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the AICTE notification, dated December 28, 2010, which curtailed Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) institutions’ autonomy on deciding fee structure, admissions, syllabus and examination.

AICTE, in a notification, had listed a new set of rules for management schools in the country which the institutions were not in agreement with. B-schools strongly opposed the norm that admissions to PGDM courses should be through common entrance tests such as the Common Admission Test (CAT), Management Aptitude Test (MAT) or examinations conducted by state governments. AICTE had said admission to PGDM programmes must be conducted by state governments through a competent authority.

“We discussed the matter with AICTE during a recent meeting and said we could discuss this issue across the table. We suggested if AICTE withdraws the notification, we would withdraw the case. We had also told the AICTE chairman that B-schools can draft a voluntary code of conduct and implement the same. But the AICTE chairman declined our proposal,” said H. Chaturvedi, President, EPSI, and Director, Birla Institute of Management and Technology, Noida.

AICTE Chairman Shankar S. Mantha when contacted said, “What kind of an out-of-court settlement are they talking about? AICTE is not anyone's personal body. It is a government body to check standards and quality of technical education. Whatever notification we had issued was in the interest of public. There is nothing like out-of-court settlement.”

“All we said was that the fee and the admission process should be monitored, as it is done for other institutions. What is the problem here? In fact, PGDM is an area where we get a lot of complaints from students and there is no redressal mechanism for them. In order to look at such problems and create a healthier mechanism, we came up with that notification,” Mantha said.

On the case, this July, the Supreme Court extended the stay on the AICTE notification on PGDM autonomy and allowed these institutions to continue with their admissions for academic session 2013-14 through any of the five national tests — Common Admission Test (CAT), Xavier Aptitude Test (XAT), Management Aptitude Test (MAT), AIMS Test for Management Admissions (ATMA) and Common Management Admission Test (CMAT). CMAT is AICTE’s own test, which the regulator body launched last year.

Opposing AICTE’s notification, B-schools have argued that by allowing students to give CAT, MAT or state-level exams, quality of students will get diluted and that a proper comparison cannot be made since the level of difficulty differs in each of these exams.

AICTE had also suggested that fees to be charged for PGDM, PGDM executive and PGCM programmes be approved by a committee of respective state governments. B-schools say when PGDBM executive programmes, which are one-year or 15-month programmes, are not recognised by AICTE, where is the need to fix the fee? B-schools argued that fee restrictions may impact the quality of infrastructure, remuneration to attract good faculty and, worst of all, may lead to the malaise of capitation fees.

AICTE had also said admission to PGDM programmes must be conducted by state governments through a competent authority. Directors of B-schools said if a college does not have a good reputation, it would be unable to fill the seats. For instance, several institutions which have the permission from AICTE to start management programmes without infrastructure, faculty or library but have a seat capacity of 240 had to be content with just 60-100 students. This lead state governments to issue a circular stating that colleges could admit students even without the mandatory scores.

AICTE maintain that B-schools are opposing the notification as they want to fleece students, and the notification will not allow them this opportunity.

The country has nearly 4,000 B-schools, with 350,000 seats. “These guidelines were not abrupt decisions. If other technical educational institutes, including those for engineering, architecture and hotel management, agree to AICTE’s guidelines, why can’t B-schools?” asked a senior AICTE official.

Source: Business Standard, September 6, 2012

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