New Delhi: The government could soon ask 500 management, engineering and other technical education colleges to close for varying offences ranging from violating land rules to cheating students.
A senior official in the ministry of human resource development said this was the outcome of a review of complaints by parents and students, and a scrutiny of documents submitted by the colleges to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), India’s apex technical education regulator.
“At least 500 technical education colleges have already been raided in the last few months across India,” added this person, who did not want to be named.
M.K. Hada, member secretary, AICTE, confirmed the development and said the exercise was aimed at “cleaning up the system and bringing transparency in the technical education space”.
The ministry official said the concerned authorities have already prepared a report based on the “surprise raids” and are hearing what the erring institutes have to say. “We believe in fair play and hence have given a chance to these colleges to give their version. At least 210 such colleges have already made their points by person to the AICTE.”
Also See | Future Tense (PDF)
The move has come nearly one-and-a-half-years after the University Grants Commission, the key university education regulator, “blacklisted” 44 deemed universities for failing quality and infrastructure parameters. The deemed university issue is now pending in the Supreme Court following these institutes moving court.
After hearing the colleges, the expert panel, comprising 21 experts and officials from the technical education field, will decide on how many should be sent closure notices, the official added.
Both AICTE and the ministry official said the names of the institutes would be made public after the entire procedure is completed.
Without giving names, Hada said at least 10 colleges have already been served the withdrawal-of-approval notice. “This is a first-of-its-kind step by AICTE. We want fair play for all—students, parents, educational institutes and the education system. They are free to appeal again.”
The surprise checks are conducted by three persons—two educational experts and an architect. They verify several credentials such as land transfer and ownership, building plans, infrastructure, quality of education and faculty among other things.
The ministry official says of the 500 colleges, a majority of them are teaching engineering and management courses. States such as Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu lead in the number of colleges being examined.
There are some 8,000 technical education institutions in the country, with at least two million students pursuing technical education courses. An estimated 50,000 students are enrolled in the 500 colleges under scanner, according to the ministry official. Once an institute faces closure, the concerned state government will be responsible for shifting the students to another institute, the official said.
Such scrutiny is critical for maintaining standards, said J. Veeraraghavan, a former education secretary.
“Powerful people are running professional colleges. (They) are making money and AICTE must come down hard on them,” he said. “I believe AICTE should engage in constant inspection and work with them with a focus on substance in curricula and teaching methods.”
The quality checks should be conducted by permanent employees rather than temporary ones as is the practice now, Veeraraghavan added.
AICTE was cleaned up after some of its top officials were arrested for corruption in 2009. After their removal, the ministry restructured the council, which has taken several pro-active measures to streamline the technical education sector in the country in the last 18 months. The most important of these was the e-application and e-approval system adopted by AICTE since the last academic session. It also asked all colleges for details of both physical and intellectual infrastructure, including details of faculty and their qualifications.