Wednesday, January 08, 2014

UGC not to regulate autonomous B-schools

Facing resistance from private colleges, the government has decided that guidelines unveiled last month for the oversight of technical institutes will not apply to autonomous B-Schools that have been concerned about losing their autonomy.

The draft guidelines were announced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on 5 December and updated on 23 December to regulate all technical colleges after the Supreme Court on 25 April took them out of the regulatory purview of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Independent B-Schools, which follow their own curriculum and set their own course fees, were also required to obey the guidelines and seek affiliation to universities that function under the UGC and adopt their syllabus.
Their inclusion provoked protests from administrators of these institutes, who argued that the quality of their courses, including the Post-Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) programme, would be compromised and the career prospects of their students harmed.

“We have withdrawn our guidelines to regulate PGDM schools,” UGC Chairman Ved Prakash said. “Though we have made some progress, we have now decided to keep all diploma programmes out of our regulatory purview. Business schools providing PGDM will no more come under our supervision.”

“They will run as they used to be earlier,” Prakash said about the functioning of these B-Schools. The UGC Chairman, however, said all other professional colleges, including engineering schools, will have to abide by the new guidelines. On 10 January, the UGC and senior officials of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) are meeting to find ways to provide affiliation to over 11,000 professional schools. Last month, several private education providers’ associations met human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju to express their reservations about the UGC draft guidelines.

India has more than 300 autonomous B-Schools including XLRI in Jamshedpur; Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad; International Management Institute in Delhi, and Management Development Institute (MDI) in Gurgaon. These autonomous B-Schools are also known as PGDM B-Schools because they don’t offer an MBA degree, but award a post-graduate diploma. They were operating without university affiliation but were approved by the AICTE. Some 180,000 students are studying in these schools.

B-Schools said they hadn’t yet been informed about the government’s decision to spare them from having to follow the UGC guidelines. “We have not received any formal communication from either the MHRD or the UGC about their withdrawal,” said Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director of the Birla Institute of Management Technology in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi. Chaturvedi, who is also the Alternate President of the Education Promotion Society of India (EPSI), said B-Schools were going ahead with their plan to meet the HRD minister again and explore judicial options.

Even if the UGC decides not to apply the new guidelines to autonomous B-schools, the institutes would still need to be overseen by a regulator, in the absence of which their status would remain uncertain. Following the Supreme Court order, unless the government amends the AICTE Act, these schools cannot go back to the AICTE’s fold.

Without any regulatory body and government recognition, these PGDM schools will be required to pay a service tax to the government—which they don’t do currently. The legal validity of the degrees they award can be challenged and their students will not be eligible for education loans. “We need a regulator and government recognition. We seek our legal status and autonomy,” Chaturvedi said.

Kumar Rajiv, a Delhi student who wants to join one of the top B-Schools, said the regulatory confusion needs to be cleared quickly before the admission process starts in a couple of months. “As a student, I would like to know the exact status of the school I am joining. If a B-School is unrecognized, I will hesitate to join it,” he said.

Source: The Mint, January 8, 2014

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