Beginning next week, the government is rolling out a new set of reforms to ensure the students aspiring to excel in technical fields are not duped by colleges that do not have the faculty and infrastructure they promise at the time of admissions.
Launching the website of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today said that the new system would introduce an online self disclosure regime, greatly reducing any human interface in the approvals process. Processing of all applications for approvals would be made online from January 10. Only MBA and MCA courses are to be considered for approval through distance mode education.
Sibal also announced that the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) would be set up as an independent body. NBA, at present, is functioning as a wing under AICTE. Its independent status would make it eligible for full membership of the Washington Accord. Under this accord, the accredited engineering degrees of India would be treated on a par with the US degrees, as well as other engineering degrees from the countries that are members of accord.
The new system would have several rounds of checks, with the institutions applying for approvals having to file 42 documents. After they have filed the first 20, they would be allowed to go to the next stage of another 20, which would get them a permanent unique identity (UID) number.
However, this would not give them the letter of intent to start admissions. As final documents, they would need to submit the names of their director and faculty members. On the basis of the documents and annexures, the system would generate the names of team members who would go for a final inspection.
Students and faculty members, too, would get UID numbers through the portal. “It will help get an idea of the movement of faculty and students. Nobody will be able to admit students without a letter of approval,” Sibal told a news conference newspersons.
Existing institutions would also need to come on to this portal, after which their existing lacunae would be revealed. Sibal, however, said that existing institutions could not be shut down. “First let us see what they lack. Let those issues come first. We can’t shut them down.”
There would be a grievance redressal mechanism on the portal. “Each student can talk to us through the portal,” Sibal said. The grievance mechanism has been put in place to make the student community feel more secured. “This will bring in accountability and transparency,” he added.
There would be a walk-through video clip that would show students the facilities and infrastructure. “Hopefully, down the road, all communication will be through the system with little or no human interface,” he said.
AICTE is an advisory and statutory body established for proper planning and coordinated development of technical education system throughout the country. However, gross irregularities in its processes surfaced in August, with the arrest of its member secretary, along with a middleman, while accepting a bribe of Rs 5 lakh for granting approval to an engineering college in New Delhi.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also filed cases against five officials, including the chairman and secretary of a Hyderabad-based engineering college.
The system, as it existed, enabled middlemen to lobby for college managements whose approvals were rejected by the expert committee appointed by AICTE after inspection. With the help of middlemen, several “rejected” colleges managed to obtain approval by the misuse of power by some officials.