Thursday, April 30, 2015

UGC taking action against blacklisted universities

The Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani has stated in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament) that the University Grants Commission (UGC) is making efforts in dealing with the issue of fake universities. The UGC has identified 21 fake universities across the country. These universities are carrying out their functions in violation of the UGC Act, 1956.

According to investigations by the UGC, these 21 universities are running several undergraduate and postgraduate programmes which are not accredited from either the state, central, UGC or any other authority capable of granting accreditation. These institutions do not have the capacity to award any degrees.

In her communication to the Rajya Sabha, Smriti Irani has mentioned the steps taken by the UGC in order to resolve the problem of fake universities in different parts of the country.

  • The UGC has published a list of fake universities on its website
  • It has informed all the unrecognized universities that any misleading advertisements by them will lead to legal action under the IPC (Indian Penal Code)and UGC Act and others. Few cases against the unapproved universities have already been filed by the UGC
  • The UGC will defend the cases against fake universities in the courts. However, any action against such universities can only be taken by the state governments and local authorities
  • The UGC has sent notices to the heads of these universities, asking them to close down the universities with immediate effect. It has also sent reminder letters to the education secretaries of states for taking action against the unrecognised universities
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had rejected the UGC proposal to clear 34 out of 44 deemed universities from the blacklist.

These 44 universities had been blacklisted in 2009, by the Tandon Committee set up under the then HRD Minister Kapil Sibal. The committee found that these universities were lacking in the quality of education as well as the infrastructure that they provided. It said that they are unfit for recognition and awarding degrees. Only three out of these 44 universities voluntarily surrendered their deemed status and established themselves as institutes. The remaining varsities, however, moved court against the committee's report.

Recently, UGC also prepared its reports regarding the conditions of the remaining 41 universities. And according to its investigations 34 out of the 41 universities deserve to hold the deemed status.

As both the reports had inspected, the universities based on different parameters and the results of both commissions are entirely different, a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra had ordered the HRD Ministry to find out the validity of the two reports; and formulate uniform guidelines for conducting such inspections.

Source: India Today Live, April 30, 2015

DU, JNU, IITs make it to global top 100 list

Indian universities might struggle to make the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings list, but their individual departments are amongst the best in the world. Delhi University tops the list, achieving the highest rank of all 20 Indian universities that have made the cut, while being placed 17th globally on the development studies subject table.

Nine Indian institutions are listed in the top 100 within nine disciplines. In the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2015 published on Wednesday, India has secured 107 places across the 36 subject tables, including the six new disciplines for 2015—architecture, arts and design, business studies, dentistry, development studies and veterinary science.

IIT-Bombay is the most prevalent Indian institute, appearing in the top 100 for eight subjects. IIT-Delhi too has five of its departments in the top 100 while Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) figures on one subject list. "This is a reflection of the progress made by Delhi University in four years. Rankings have improved in several disciplines. If we can keep up the momentum, we would be placed even higher next year," Malay Neerav, media coordinator, DU, said.

Within the inclusion of the new subject of art and design, Shanmugha Arts Science Technology and Research Academy, Thanjavur, has been placed in the top 100, while Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, has made it for materials science and electrical and electronic engineering. From Delhi, IIT also appears in the top 100 for civil and structural engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical aeronautical and manufacturing engineering and computer science and information system.

However, in business and management studies, none of the B-schools could make it into the top 100. The top ranks in this subject table are shared by IIM-Ahmedabad, IIM-Bangalore and IIT-Delhi.

Source: The Times of India, April 30, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

AICTE denies approval to 588 colleges

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has denied 588 technical institutions across the country approval to run various programmes. Bad infrastructure, shortage of faculty and poor academic performance are the main reasons, people involved in the approval process said. Thirty one of these institutions are in Tamil Nadu.

Technical institutions across the country, including engineering, polytechnic, management and pharmacy colleges, have to apply for approval from the AICTE every year. The colleges have to upload the details on a portal, which will be verified by the apex body. The approval is mandatory for technical institutions to commence a new academic year.

When technical institutions sought approval for their courses for the academic year 2015-16, the AICTE found that 588 institutions did not satisfy the norms. "This is a routine process and every institution is expected to upload relevant documents and records while applying for approval. If documents pertaining to any norm are not available or not satisfactory, the application is rejected," an AICTE official said.

When asked about the reasons, the official said most institutions did not satisfy the infrastructure norms or were short on faculty. "From 2011-12 to 2014-15, many institutions have applied for an increase in intake. We have found problems like shortage of faculty and lack of enough classrooms and laboratories in many of the colleges," the official said.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 107 institutions being denied approval, followed by Maharashtra with 88. States like Haryana, an emerging engineering destination in the country, has 32 institutions that have been denied approval for the academic year 2015-16. Tamil Nadu, the state with the highest number of technical institutions in the country, has 31 institutions that have been denied approval.

Principal of one of the 31 colleges in Tamil Nadu that have been denied approval said, "The demand for the course was depleting, and last year we had applied to reduce the intake. This year we have asked the AICTE to scrap the department itself."

While there are some top institutions on the list, experts say it is because one of their courses has been denied approval. "There are two good colleges on the list. In each, one course did not satisfy the norms, but they are among the top 20 institutions in the state," said a professor of a private engineering college.

Educational consultant J P Gandhi said, "It is not only the college infrastructure and faculty shortage that matter. Performance of faculty, recruitment of fresh faculty, implementation of biometric attendance system for faculty and research activities are also considered. Some institutions think if they have the required number of teachers it is enough. But, AICTE now looks at yearly performance too."

Experts say this is an indication of AICTE's attempts to improve quality in engineering education. "This is good move from the AICTE. In January this year, they made a rule that colleges can apply for an increase in intake only in courses accredited by NBA. Now, a strict verification of documents shows their intent on maintaining quality," said educational consultant Moorthy Selvakumar.

Source: The Times of India, April 10, 2015

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

India among top nations for MBA aspirants

For those who pursue graduate management education globally, foreign universities top the preference list. While the US remains the most sought-after destination, India is among the top five, show the findings of the Graduate Management Admission Council's Prospective Students Survey.

According to the survey - it explored the motivations, behaviours, programme choices, and intended career outcomes shared by nearly 12,000 individuals across 30 countries who registered on from October 2013 through September 2014 - prospective students can be segmented into three groups based on career goals: career enhancers (34% of survey respondents), career switchers (38%) and aspiring entrepreneurs (28%). Around 28% of survey respondents indicated they plan to start their own businesses, compared with 19% five years ago.

Respondents in Africa (45%), Latin America (44%) and Central and South Asia including India (43%) led this segment. Contrary to popular belief, when students listed their top five consideration criteria for selecting a programme and study destination, rankings didn't count. More than half the prospective students (52%) sought to study outside their country of citizenship, up from 40% in 2010.

This growing preference for international study is most notable among citizens of Asia-Pacific (94% in 2014, up from 88% in 2010) and the Middle East (72% in 2014 vs 58% in 2010). The top 10 preferred study destinations are the US, UK, Canada, France, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands and Australia. While 53% Indians preferred studying in the US, 21% and 7% showed inclination towards India and the UK, respectively.

The US remains the top international study destination for two-thirds of prospective students across the globe; however, this is a decrease from 73% in 2010. Among the other top locations, 6% wanted to study in the UK, 5% in Canada, 3% each in France and India, 2% each in Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands and 1% in Australia.

Between 2010 and 2014, the locations that experienced the greatest increase in interest by prospective students were Hong Kong (+2.4% points), Canada (+1.0% points), Germany (+1.0% points), the Netherlands (+0.7% points), France (+0.7% points), the UK (+0.6% points) and Australia (+0.6% points).

Gauging the interest of prospective students across more than 25 MBA and specialised business master's program options, 26% of today's candidates are considering both degree types.

MBA programs are exclusively considered by half (52%), globally. Among these students, the programmes as per their preference are: full-time two-year MBA (32%), full-time one-year MBA (27%), part-time MBA (15%), flexible MBA (7%), online MBA (6%), executive MBA (6%) and joint degree programme with MBA (3%). Specialised business master's programmes are exclusively considered by 22% of prospective students, globally.

Source: The Economic Times, April 7, 2015

Monday, April 06, 2015

Government portal for facilitating vocational training launched

The government today launched the web portal of National Council on Vocational Training (NCVT), which aims to improve delivery of vocational training and benefit over two million students in a year. "This portal will facilitate over two million vocational training students every year. There are over 11,000 ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) in the country where over one million students get admission every year," a senior official said.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya while launching the portal said: "The labour ministry is taking all possible steps to prepare one crore (10 million) youth for employment by providing vocational training in 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17)." He said this portal is yet another step to scale up the infrastructure that can help realise the Prime Minister's Skill India mission. It will also significantly improve government's process efficiencies, increase transparency and reduce leakages and corruption by use of technology, he added.

On the occasion, the minister awarded first set of e-certificates generated from the portal for students who successfully completed training from various ITIs in the past but were awaiting certification from the NCVT. The Council has a huge backlog to clear. According to a Labour Ministry press release, about 160,000  pending e-certificates have been generated through the portal for already passed out trainees. The portal is expected to reduce waiting time from years to days for apprentice to get certificates. Besides, employers will also be able to cross check genuine candidates directly using the portal, it said.

While the Government schemes, delivery and performance can be monitored through his portal, the general public can also access details of various institutions in the country, courses offered and their uptake statistics, number of seats available, examination calendars, etc.

In its first phase, the NCVT-MIS portal has provided an e-governance mechanism for key Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T) schemes such as the Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) and Apprentice Protsahan Yojana (Apprentice Encouragement Plan).

Data of about 1 million CTS candidates, who took admission across these ITIs in the country during the session starting August 14, are now available in the portal. The trainees can now print hall ticket, mark sheet and e-certificates from the portal themselves which will eliminate harassment in issuance of these documents and also drastically reduce the turnaround time in availability of these documents.

The employers will also be able to validate these e-certificates directly using the portal. Over 2 million certified trainees who were given paper based certificates can also be verified online, the Labour Ministry press release said.

In its second phase, at present under development, the platform will also provide modules for the centrally funded institutes. In the second phase, the portal will provide an integration with the National Career Service (NCS) portal of the DGE&T) to integrate the training services with employment and Aadhaar.

Wipro Infotech is the implementation agency for the project while National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) are the consultants to DGE&T for this project.

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), April 6, 2015

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

UGC a failure, must be scrapped: MHRD panel

One of the first committee set up by HRD minister Smriti Z. Irani to review the working of the University Grants Commission (UGC) has said that the regulator not only has "failed to fulfill its mandate but also has not been able to deal with emerging diverse complexities."

Headed by former UGC chairperson Hari Gautam, the committee has said any "reshaping or restructuring" of UGC "will be a futile" exercise and so will be amending the UGC Act. Therefore, it has recommended setting up of National Higher Education Authority through an act of Parliament. It has also prepared a draft of the bill but said that till the time such a body is set up, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) can bring about many changes through executive order.

For instance, it has suggested a national research aptitude test for admission to PhD and doing away with 10 years as professor criteria to become vice-chancellors. It has also emphasized teaching of yoga and transcendental meditation. Ministry sources said, "Recommendations are far-reaching and will be looked into seriously."

The two-volume report submitted to the ministry says UGC is "plagued in the main by reductionism in its functioning." The report also states, "It (UGC) has side-stepped its function of being a sentinel of excellence in education and embraced the relatively easier function of funding education." It has specifically pointed out that the UGC staff is unhappy as only "few find favour and are delegated with powers to perform in important areas while many of them are left out with hardly much to contribute."

"It is said that they are pushed around through an element of fear and threat. The overall impression is that there is a man-made crisis which seems to be cause of unhealthy ambience and poor performance of UGC," the report said, adding there should be pay parity with central government employees.

Advising reform from the top, the committee has said that UGC chairperson "should be advised to strictly keep a vigilant track of the various performance areas of the UGC and assess the contribution at all levels." It has recommended that chairperson should spend more time in his "seat" than go around the "country and the world on occasions that have not much relevance for the system he governs." In this regard, the committee has recommended that chairperson be held accountable and "his performance be assessed once after three years and then at the end of his tenure of five years by a committee constituted by MHRD."

As for members of the UGC, the committee said "all kinds of people have been appointed". Eminent educationists or men of eminence in any field should have been the natural choice but at times it is observed that businessmen, hotel owners and even readers in colleges" have been made members. The report has recommended that members be given more active role and asked to attend review meetings.

Pointing out various ills of functioning of UGC, the report said "working structure of UGC is so ad-hoc that many do not know how many bureaus represent various disciplines and activities are currently existing." The report has said regional offices of UGC and even Consortium of Educational Communication (CEC) have failed to deliver and are a waste of "good money and manpower."

Source: The Economic Times, April 1, 2015

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