Thursday, April 06, 2006

Truth in advertising: SRM

In an important post, Badri recounts the tale of how some private engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu became deemed universities, and how they are now fighting a serious battle -- in the Chennai High Court -- with AICTE on the latter's right to regulate them.

I have written in the past about some of these deemed universities: in particular, Sathyabama here and here.

At some level, I pity the private engineering colleges, because they are hobbled by tons of rules imposed on them by AICTE, their parent university, the state government. I pity them because these rules try to achieve the impossible, by prescribing -- nay, mandating -- both the quality and the cost of education. They have been doing their best (at least some of them, anyway) under these terrible conditions. Overall, the best they can achieve is, to put it mildly, quite pathetic: poor quality education, delivered by faculty with poor qualifications (some of the faculty just have bachelors degrees).

I am not a great fan of AICTE's regulations; there are all kinds of problems with them, and I will come back to one of them a little later. Having said that, AICTE is all we have got. Thus, the deemed universities that claim immunity from AICTE oversight are indeed on a very weak wicket. I hope the courts will rule in favour of AICTE. I also hope that the regulator will spruce up and modernize its regulations and enforce them strictly and professionally.

SRM Institute of Science and Technology is one of the deemed universities that's doing legal battle with AICTE. Ever since the story of its spat with the regulator broke, its students (and Sathyabama's students) erupted in protest, which also ended in violence and property damage. All of this has been reported in the media in Tamil Nadu.

Last week, SRM issued an ad inviting applications for its bachelors and masters programs. I looked and looked, but couldn't find any information about the institution's problems with AICTE. Nothing. Zippo. The institution's website also has nothing.

It's clear that SRM is looking for people who are ignorant or couldn't care less about its regulatory problems.

* * *

It's instructive to examine SRM's credentials. In the ICT-related areas, it offers bachelors programs in the following (here, take a look at the ad):

Computer Science and Engineering
Information Technology
Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering
Electronics and Communication Engineering
Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering

The last two are separate entries. Seriously.

Now, take a look at the website of one of the departments. Say, the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering. You get a lot of information about its course structure, and stuff. But, you would guess that a prospective student would be interested in its faculty, right? Yes, but that student won't get much from its website, except that the Department is headed by Dr. S. Jayasri, that it has a faculty strength of 54, that it has a research coordination committee with five members, and that it has six doctoral students working with two approved guides. That's pretty much it. Names of the 54 faculty members are not mentioned, nor their qualifications, experience, background.

Shouldn't we have regulations that mandate disclosure of this kind of information on the websites of colleges and universities?


  1. Anonymous said...

    Very true, and pathetic too. The members of the faculty in most engineering colleges in TN aren't even worth commenting about. With the exception of a precious few, almost all colleges employ recent graduates as lecturers.

    Secondly, the pedagogy followed in these institutions is ridiculous. In some colleges, lecturers give out question-and-answer hand-outs to students, like in schools.

  2. Abi said...

    Vijay Krishna: There ought to be a better way to expand our higher education system, so that more people can get its benefits. While I am sure our current system will eventually be replaced by something better, it is in everyone's interest to make it happen sooner.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Although legaly speaking every institution is under AICTE purview, AICTE has used discretion not to include IITs and IIMs which are institutions of the government, by the government and for the government. What a discrimination in a Law abiding Nation!! With the RESERVATION issue picking up for IITs and IIMs, they might as well be renamed as RIIT and RIIM.

    What did this government do to Sarath Babu who studied at BITS Pilani and then later at IIMA and has started a Food Catering unit of his own. He did not get admission by reservation.

    What is the great AICTE all about? If the deemed universities offering BE Computer Science change the nomenclature of the degree from BE Computer Science to MSC Computer Science by a move of their respective senates, AICTE can go hang or stand in a corner and suck thumb.

    Its a joke that you have AICTE standards if you run BE Computer Science but you need not bother about AICTE standards if your University deemed or otherwise is running MSc Computer Science.

    I think the lawyers and judges handling this case of Deemed Universities versus AICTE need some quick education on the realities.

  4. Anonymous said...

    There is a Dhyaneswar Vidyapeeth in Pune going about awarding degrees and what has UGC or AICTE done about it. Today many universities and colleges are offering MSc Computer Science for which AICTE has no say. Are standards to be maintained only if its BE or BTech Computer Science and no need for standards if the degree is named MSc? Society is obsessed with talking of standards only in Technical and Medical Education. Does not Science Arts curriculum require Standards to be maintained. After all let people realize that Society does not run only with Engineers, doctors and Pharmacists and requires all fields of knowledge. Let us talk of standards in education and not confine to only technical education.

  5. Anonymous said...

    AICTE cannot take action against Deemed Universities: HC
    The Madras High Court today ruled that the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has the authority to inspect deemed universities but any action against them could be only taken by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

    A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice Prabha Sridevan made the observation while quashing a public notice issued by the AICTE in February last, warning of stringent legal action against Deemed Universities which conducted new courses and programmes, without its prior approval.

    Disposing of petitions filed by about 20 deemed universities in Tamil Nadu, the judges pointed out that according to a UGC communication, "the AICTE may visit the university department or constituent college and send its final report to the the UGC for final approval".

    Noting that the AICTE team conducting any inspection of deemed universities had the representation of the UGC, the bench said if the UGC did not depute such a member within a reasonable time, the AICTE could proceed to conduct the inspection and forward its report to the UGC for action.

    Referring to the notices sent by the AICTE and the UGC calling for information regarding the courses offered and those introduced after being declared Deemed Universities and whether UGC approval had been taken, the bench directed all universities to respond to the notices within four weeks if they had not done so.

  6. Unknown said...

    i am satish i am steding in bharath university this college also like srm university.
    after completing my corse i am eligebul for gov.job or not & teaching in andhra also eligibul or not
    pls say more abt ugc aict
    ok thnks byeee

  7. Unknown said...

    i am satish i am steding in bharath university this college also like srm university.
    after completing my corse i am eligebul for gov.job or not & teaching in andhra also eligibul or not
    pls say more abt ugc aict
    ok thnks byeee