Tag Archive for education news

Madras High Court’s Mantra for Reining in Unscrupulous Colleges…!

Publish recognition and affiliation details of medical, engineering and other professional colleges, and punish or award damages to students who are misled by unscrupulous managements into joining colleges that do not have statutory sanction to take students.

This is the Madras high court’s prescription to usher in better accountability and responsibility in the education sector, where instances of students ending up in unrecognised courses or being admitted in excess of the permitted intake are on the rise.

Madras_high_court

Justice KK Sasidharan, dismissing a writ petition filed by St John’s College of Nursing seeking regularisation of students admitted in excess of the permitted intake, said cancellation of recognition or denial of affiliation or reduction of student intake in professional colleges should not be a ‘secret affair’.

Pointing out that there were no appropriate regulations to punish managements involved in such irregularities, the judge also laid down a set of stringent guidelines and said statutory bodies such as MCI, AICTE, nursing and dental councils must consider adopting the norms with appropriate modifications.

Every year, before the admission process for medical, engineering, nursing, pharmacy, teaching, law and other courses begins, the statutory body concerned should publish within three days of publication of Plus Two results the list of colleges entitled to admit students along with the sanctioned intake.

Justice Sasidharan also favoured a mechanism for awarding damages to students whose careers are seriously jeopardized by unscrupulous management of colleges/schools that admit students without statutory recognition/affiliation in violation of rules. Details such as pending applications, grant of approval and the final list of approved institutions, too, should be published by the regulatory authorities concerned before the last date prescribed for submission of applications, he said.

The judge was passing orders on a writ petition of St John’s College of Nursing which had admitted 50 students though its intake had been reduced to 30. Admitting that 20 students had been admitted in excess of the sanctioned limit, it wanted the court to regularise their admission and allow them to write their examination.

Rejecting the plea, Justice Sasidharan said students joined the institution without knowing that the intake limit had been slashed. “The illegal admissions would come in the open only when the university declines to permit students to write the public examination. The students would realise only at that point of time that they had been cheated. The students ultimately would lose money as well as their valuable time by studying in such unrecognised institutions,” he said.

Slamming college managements that had turned a noble cause into a lucrative business, Justice Sasidharan agreed with a senior counsel’s submissions that the statutory bodies were primarily responsible for this sorry state of affairs and poor students were being made scapegoats.

He dismissed the writ petition of the nursing institution saying, “there is no question of showing any kind of indulgence in a matter of this nature.”

Times View

The Madras high court’s punitive guidelines for rogue managements have not come a moment too soon. The verdict echoes the popular concern that there is no law to award compensation to students who lose money and time by first joining a college/course without statutory sanction, and then fight court battles in vain. Colleges flout law during admissions and then use the illegally admitted students as human shields to win court sympathy to continue the fraud. The high court has called their bluff finally.

SSC, HSC Pupils Can Mention Minority Status in Exam Forms

In a latest move in the indian education sector from next academic year, application forms for the SSC and HSC exams will have a separate column where candidates can mention if they belong to a minority community.

The move was initiated by the respective authority at the meeting held between state minorities minister Arif Naseem Khan and school education minister Rajendra Darda at Mantralaya on Monday. “Students have the option of specifying their caste (SC/ST/OBC) in the current application system. But there is no such provision for candidates from minority communities.

The new system will not only help in collating accurate data on how many minority-community students appear for SSC and HSC exams, but will also help in streamlining admissions to junior and degree colleges. I urged the school education minister and department officials to include the option of specifying minority community status in board examination forms,” Khan said. “School education minister Rajendra Darda has agreed to the suggestion and has promised to make technical changes in the system.”

Colleges with a minority tag (linguistic and religious) have to reserve 50% of the total seats for those belonging to the minority quota.

Course-correction scheme to Benefit Students at Vellore Institute of Technology

Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has announced a migration scheme in which a student can move from one engineering stream to another in any year during the course.

The scheme will be a boon for students who want to shift to courses that may have specific subjects to cater to their interests.

“It’s a welcome move provided students are wise in their choice of courses during migration,” said former Anna University vice-chancellor E Balagurusamy. The system will be advantageous to those who shift to courses that are connected but more specialised than the ones they are pursuing, he said.

“Even second or third year students can migrate, but they should make sure that they don’t miss out the core papers,” said Balagurusamy.

Many universities in the US have this system as they want to be more liberal in academics. “I joined MS computer engineering at a university in the US. The course was more about hardware and so I shifted to a software course later,” said VIT vice-president Sekar Viswanathan.

The scheme, which has been introduced on a trial basis, is aimed at first year students but there are no restrictions for senior students either, said Viswanathan.

All that a student would have to do is score 60% overall marks during the current year and 40% in two basic papers of the course they want to shift to in the second semester of the year they are in. Students will be chosen for the migration based on a merit list prepared on the marks scored, and 2% of seats in every department will be allotted for the scheme.

This option is already available for first-year students in some institutions, including SASTRA University. Usually, students who join a course available at the time of admission migrate during the second year.

“All first year students have common subjects. Depending on their first year marks and the availability of seats in other departments, first years can shift courses,” said S Vaidhyasubramaniam, dean-planning and development, SASTRA University. “I don’t think it’s advisable for senior students as they won’t be able to complete the course.”

Officials at VIT University said the scheme is aimed at the first year students but there are no restrictions for senior students either.

More students opt For Higher Education, but Even More Drop Out: says Survey….!

 Higher education continues to be a mixed bag in the country. A countrywide education survey has found that the rate of attendance in the 20-24 age group (corresponding to graduation and above) has recorded the highest rates of growth in several decades. However, worryingly, the dropout rate has also kept pace.

The survey carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) in 2009-10 was released this month. It looked into employment and educational trends in India.

Compared to the 1991-2000 period, the past decade (2001-10) saw attendance rates for the higher age group increase by 71% for boys and 110% for girls in rural areas. In urban areas, the growth was 40% for boys and 45% for girls. Although the rise in percentage terms is a marked improvement over previous decades, the data shows that the picture remains dismal at the ground level. In 2009-10, the attendance rates were just 19% for boys and 8% for girls in rural areas; in urban areas, the corresponding figures were 33% and 24%, respectively. This state of higher education compares badly with those in the 5-14 age group, where 87% of boys and 84% of girls were attending school in rural areas, and 91% of all boys and girls in urban areas.

Various measures like mid-day meals, new curricula and better facilities have drawn children to schools, said eminent scientist Yashpal, former chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC). However, in higher education, complex socio-economic conditions skew the growth rate in favour of female students. While economic pressures motivate young men to opt out of education at the earliest possible level in order to start earning, young women are increasingly pursuing higher education as it helps in marriage prospects and potential future employment. An earlier NSSO study had shown that women, despite higher education levels are still not becoming part of the workforce.

“At the higher education level, we need to do away with rigidity, allow more freedom and innovation, and link the courses to life. Resources need to be pumped in on priority basis,” asserted Professor Yashpal, while explaining the persistent high dropout rates at higher levels. Prof Yashpal had headed a high-level committee on ‘renovation and rejuvenation’ of higher education which submitted a detailed report in 2009. Its battery of suggestions included increased funding for higher education and stricter regulation of private entities. The government is yet to act on the report.

While current attendance rates indicate a positive trend for the future, existing educational levels of people 15 years old and above continue to be dismal. The traditional picture of educational levels—like a pyramid with a very wide base (of illiterates) tapering to a sharp point (of graduates)—is changing at the bottom but not much at the top. The proportion of those who are illiterate or have studied just up to primary levels is going down but beyond that the pyramid continues to be sharply pointed.

In urban areas, about 15% of males and 11% of females are graduates or above. This is much higher than the rural areas where only 3.7% of males and a mere 1.6% of females have gone up to graduation or beyond. This is despite an explosion of private higher education institutions including universities in recent years.

What is even more alarming is that in 10 years between 1999-2000 and 2009-10, the graduate and above segment of the urban population declined by 5% among males although it increased by 10% among females.

In the rural areas, the pent-up demand for education is still driving educational levels higher. The proportion of graduates and above went up by 78% among females but only 12% in males.

Higher Education’s Gross Enrolment Ratio to be Raised to 30% by 2020: Says Education Minister

The government has begun efforts to enhance gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education to 30 per cent by 2020 from the current level of around 19 per cent, Union minister for human resource development (HRD) MM Pallam Raju said here today.

“We have a gross enrolment ratio of close to 19 per cent, which is much below the 26 per cent average GER in global scenario. But we are certain that with the sustained efforts that began in 11th five-year Plan we will be able to take our GER to 30 per cent by 2020,” he said.

Speaking at the fifth convocation of the city-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), Raju stressed on the need to raise the level of education right from schools to higher institutes with focus on quality.

“That is exactly what the government is trying to do right now. There is a very clear plan and that plan must progress from school education through college education and through the universities. It is important to integrate education with higher disciplines and bring an international focus on the campuses,” the minister said.

The Centre and the HRD ministry have been putting in efforts to encourage GER and no university must be left behind in these efforts, he said, adding that the focus should be on quality.

“For that to happen, it is important for the universities to be the centre of revolution by focusing on quality of education,” Raju said.

Earlier, honorary doctorate degree was presented to Justice (retired) Rajinder Sachar.

In the absence of Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, his mother Zeenat Tahir Hussain and his elder sister Nikhat received the honorary doctorate degree.

As many as 24,578 students from distance and the regular modes of education were awarded degrees and diplomas for various programmes and courses for 2011 and 2012.

Chancellor Syeda Saiyidain Hameed and vice-chancellor Mohammad Miyan also spoke on the occasion.

Indian universities race to attract East African Students

India’s higher education sector is back in the East African region determined to reclaim its place as the leading destination for students from the region.

Indian universities are holding workshops in East African capitals for potential students and parents, appointing recruiting agents and aggressively advertising opportunities on offer in their colleges.

Topping in the race to net East African students are Manipal University, Sharda University, R.K Degree College, SRM University and Patkar College, among others.

Besides lower fees and a wide choice of courses, the universities also have lower cut-off requirements compared to local private institutions. Students are admitted without having to undergo a pre-university course.

Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Sibabrata Tripathi said that universities in India have remained popular in Africa because of the quality of education, the use of English, costs and quality.

“India offers quality higher education at an affordable cost. The use of English as a medium of instruction, reasonable living costs, the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the country, similarity of life experience in a developing country and the presence of foreign student communities from various countries continue to act as an attraction,” Tripathi told IANS.

“Distance education courses offered by some institutions are also becoming popular in recent years,” he added.

The institutions also arrange visas for recruited students making it easier for parents, who would otherwise spend days chasing after the immigration papers.

The fact that India has a reputable, older and more developed higher education sector is also likely to be magnet to students, according to Patrick Mbataru, lecturer at Kenyatta University.

The Indian government’s scholarships to African students each year has also ensured that the country holds its sway in attracting foreign students with a country like Kenya benefiting from close to I00 scholarships each year.

“The Indian High Commission, in association with the government of Kenya, annually administers over one hundred fellowships up to the doctoral level for Kenyans for study and training in India under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), India Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and other programmes,” Tripathi said..

“Thousands of Kenyans have availed of Indian government scholarships over the past six decades. They are now pursuing successful careers in Kenya in fields like government, management, academic and scientific research, law, IT and accounting,” Tripathi said.

Courses being marketed to students include the ever popular bachelors degree in commerce, engineering, information and communication technology, health sciences, including nursing, and law.

Failing engineering students pose a headache for Gujarat University

Poor performance of 700-odd students of engineering who have repeatedly failed in their exams has become a headache for the Gujarat University (GU). The university has now formed a four-member committee to find a solution to the problems created by these students.

The GU officials said that the issue stems from the fact that all the 11 engineering colleges affiliated with the GU are now part of the Gujarat Technological University (GTU) which was formed in 2007-2008. Though GTU sets the semester-wise papers and conduct exams, it is technically not responsible for those students who had failed in 2006 – prior to the formation of GTU. Conducting exams for these students is the responsibility of the GU.

The officials said that they are 700-odd students who had received ATKTs in their exams prior to 2007 and have been failing in their exams conducted by the GU. “The question is that how many more times do we have to conduct the test for the students who just don’t seem to clear the exams. Many of them have been given over ten chances to clear the exam but don’t seem ever prepared,” said M N Patel, principal of LD College of Engineering and member of the committee appointed by the GU.

GU officials said that they have gone to the extent of deciding that students who make a decent attempt to answer the question paper should be passed. “But most of these students write poetry and stories instead of engineering questions,” said an exasperated GU official.

The committee will decide the course of action to resolve the administrative crisis posed by these 700 students.

A Report on Higher Education and Technology

The contrast between the private sector and the state sector in Universities is stark when you look at the investments in technology. A large proportion of university classrooms look as they have for decades – large rooms, with seating arranged in traditional rows and columns, lit by a few bulbs and tube lights and a blackboard at the front. Yes, of course, they have been ‘computerised’ and many do have projectors in their classrooms. At least some classrooms. Students, in many of them have access to computers, though often it it is rationed access. Contrast this with the investments of the private sector in their universities who use these amenities to attract students to their campuses. Classroom conditions are better – acoustics, climate control, lighting, net access and of course projectors and microphones.
 
 Using technology in education is not just about bringing Mahomet to the mountain, it is also about the mountain moving to come to Mahomet. Both, educators and technology need to move closer to each other to work effectively. Education technology has now, just about, come of age and become accessible in more ways than one. Not only has the cost gone down, both in absolute terms and relative to average income levels, but also technology has become more user friendly.
 
 
 I clearly remember the first computer to be allocated or purchased by our school, that year a Kendriya Vidyalaya. Decades ago. It came in a box, mysterious processes that we did not see had conspired to send this magical box to the school. No instructions. No support systems. No training. Well, at least not before the box arrived. It was a PC. The youngest teacher in the school, the yoga instructor was handed the box – the others too old or ‘experienced’ to deal with these new fangled ideas. He plugged it in. Spent hours figuring out how to connect the keyboard, monitor and ‘box’. Switched it on. A green dot blinked. He pressed a key on the keyboard. The cursor.. well still called a dot/line since nobody knew any more.. moved down. And blinked. I was called to help. Why me? Because I lived on a campus where they had been using a mainframe computer for years, and I had visited the grand rooms (airconditioned) where the mammoth machines were kept. And had handled punch cards (anyone remember those?). 
 
 
 We have come a long way from those days. Sugato Mitra’s hole in the wall experiment, years ago, surely offered more than a blinking screen to the slum kids – which enabled their learning. A new device today offers so much more in terms of usability – it has walked a few steps towards the educator. The educators too have moved on from a phobia of computers to grudging acceptance of its usefulness, especially after the internet proved that access and communications were much more effective than earlier methods. Even so, many professors in higher education do little more than email or create their papers and presentations on the computer. Despite having so much at their disposal. Often, even simple tasks like printing out a paper (why print at all??) or sending out an email are delegated to a younger assistant. 
 
 
 One of the biggest challenges in India today is helping educators get on to the technology bandwagon. Many use sophisticated smartphones, have access to good technology, are and badgered by vendors offering them customised products and services. Some, indeed many, have their own websites. At the same time it is also true that higher education institutions have been unable to build and use systems that make learning seamless and effortless. Having a website, or offering a static list of information is not really using the potential of technology to its fullest. A step forward is to use it for marketing the institution – both for potential students and as an ambassadorial tool. Some offer learning materials online, including lesson videos. It is time to do that and far more to create a vibrant learning habit. For the mountain to go to Mahomet.

CBSE Plans to Train Teachers for Online Labs

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is pushing its teachers to train for online laboratories, known officially as ‘OLabs’. TOI had reported in 2011 that CBSE is promoting the use of online laboratories for students because it provides a safe environment and 24×7 access.

Students can log on to www.olabs.co.in and conduct almost any experiment online without worrying about accidents happening. ERNET, an autonomous scientific body, is helping CBSE train teachers. ERNET is under the administrative control of department of information technology, Government of India having one of the largest nationwide terrestrial and satellite network with 15 points of presence located at the premier academic and research institutions in major cities of the country. According to ERNET’s website it is serving more than 1,300 institutions in various sectors viz. health, agriculture, higher education, schools and science & technology.

Director (academics, research, training and innovation) Sadhana Parashar wrote to affiliated schools announcing a training programme for teachers in the OLabs initiative. Parashar wrote that to understand these OLabs (Online Labs-Virtual Experiments) a third party “will provide one day training free of cost to teachers of all the CBSE affiliated schools (region wise) in two phases. In the first phase, ERNET will train master trainers (around 1,250) who will give training to other teachers in second phase. Two teachers per school will be trained and a total of 30,000 teachers will be trained”.

The date and venue of training sessions will be declared at a later date after schools confirm their participation.

Students can log on to www.olabs.co.in and conduct almost any experiment online without worrying about accidents happening. ERNET India is an autonomous scientific society under the administrative control of department of information technology, Government of India having one of the largest nationwide terrestrial and satellite network with 15 points of presence located at the premier academic and research institutions in major cities of the country. According to ERNET’s website it is serving more than 1,300 institutions in various sectors, namely, health, agriculture, higher education, schools and science & technology.

This entire OLabs initiative was started in Kerala-based Amrita University and CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi was given a final presentation last year during educational conference. The International Conference of Technology Enhanced Education (ICTEE) was held from January 3-5 at Amritapuri, Kerala and the event showcased a futuristic vision for classrooms. Speaking to TOI during that event, the programme’s coordinator Prof Raghu Raman said that the workshop will be almost like looking into the future. “A few months ago we were discussing with the CBSE chairman on how workshops are currently focusing only on problems. We need to take a peek into the future and see what is out there, say 10 years from now. And it is from this that the idea for ICTEE came about,” he had said.

700 Medical Seats Lost in TN as 6 Colleges Lose Recognition

Amidst soaring demand for MBBS seats, matched by record capitation fee collections, one thing has gone unnoticed thus far. The Medical Council of India (MCI) has either refused or withdrawn recognition for at least half a dozen medical colleges in Tamil Nadu, and none of the colleges has been able to win any reprieve from the Madras high court till now.

In effect, these colleges which have a combined student intake of more than 700 have realized to their dismay that the Supreme Court-stipulated deadline of July 15 for grant of MCI recognition too has gone by, with the high court refusing to show them the usual indulgence. “Now that the deadline for recognition has lapsed and the high court too has not come to their rescue, these medical colleges have no hope this year, unless the Supreme Court relaxes or extends the deadline. Even the MCI cannot do anything about it without the apex court’s nod,” a senior advocate arguing the case told TOI on Wednesday.

The medical colleges which have queued up before the high court are: Melmaruvathur Adhiparasakthi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research with 150 seats; Madha Medical College and Hospital for renewal of recognition to admit 150 students; Tagore Medical College and Hospital for renewal of recognition to admit 150 students; Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute for grant of recognition to admit 150 students; and Sri Devi Karumariamman Educational Trust for recognition to start admitting students for its new college.

Two other colleges – Asan Dental College and Hospital in Chennai and Mookambiga Dental College and Hospital in Kanyakumari district – have been refused permission by the Dental Council of India to admit 100 students each during this academic year. Another medical college – Mahathma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute – has been disallowed from increasing its intake from 150 to 250.

The names of Adhiparasakthi institute and Sathya Sai medical college figured in a CBI case, and a city court had discharged both of the promoters from the case. After that, they challenged the derecognition on the ground that in view of their discharge from the criminal case, their recognition should be restored. Their matters are now pending before the ethics committee of the MCI. When Adhiparasakthi’s case for resumption of recognition came up for hearing before Justice K K Sasidharan, the judge had suo motu impleaded the CBI also a party to the proceedings, in order to elicit its views in the matter.

All these institutions are before the Madras high court hoping to circumvent the MCI’s denial orders by obtaining at least an interim order of stay from the court. “Usually they succeed in getting an interim order and then start admitting students, cocking a snook at the MCI administration. Not so this time. With the high court adopting a tough stand this year, we do not know how to advice these clients,” said another lawyer involved in the litigation. As per the apex court order in the Mridhul Dhar (minor) and Others Vs Union of India case, the last date for obtaining MCI recognition is July 15, and the deadline for completing the entire admission process is July 31, he pointed out.