B-schools upbeat as Supreme Court grants interim relief against AICTE circular

The Supreme Court is today understood to have delivered interim relief to PDGM institutes from the controversial AICTE circular by allowing them the independence to conduct their own admissions and decide their own fees.

The institutes can conduct their own group discussion and interview processes after shortlisting candidates using any one or more of the CAT, MAT or XAT entrance exams and the state governments will have no role to play in the admissions, says the order. The schools will however have to inform AICTE which exams they are using and for how much proportion of the admissions.

The apex court also ruled that b-schools could set their own fees. The schools will have to inform AICTE and the state government of the fees they finally fix.

Further, the court ruled that the Board of Governors of PGDM b-schools will have only two government invitees — one each from AICTE and the state government — instead of the five as demanded by AICTE.

The SC was hearing writ petitions filed by the Association of Indian Management Schools (AIMS), Educational Promotion Society of India (EPSI) and a group of PGDM b-schools represented by lawyers AK Venugopal, Rajiv Dhawan and Sunil Gupta. The petition challenged AICTE’s circular dated December 28, 2010 that sought to place the control of PGDM admissions, fees and curriculum in the hands of state governments. Several b-schools with clout opposed the move, viewing it as an attack on their autonomy. According to sources, as many as nine state high courts besides the Supreme Court have been moved simultaneously across the country to get the circular scrapped, of which the Bombay and Orissa High Courts had already yielded in favour of b-schools.

The relief will be valid only for the coming academic year and will be applicable to nearly 2,500 AICTE-approved colleges across India. Subsequent progress of the matter in court will decide what happens from next year onwards.

Commenting on the SC order, Director of Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), Noida and EPSI President Dr H Chaturvedi said, “It’s a good interim stay granted by SC, it had galvanized management education across the country. We are now looking towards the future. We (PGDM institutes) are now doing serious introspection about ourselves and the way we function. EPSI and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) are trying to develop a model code of conduct for PGDM institutions.”

Director of Jamshedpur’s XLRI School of Business and Human Resources Fr E Abraham, SJ also told PaGaLGuY that he was happy with the court’s decision. “We always had full faith in the Supreme Court’s justice,” he said.

Fr PT Joseph, SJ, Director of Xavier’s Institute of Management, Bhubhaneswar too expressed satisfaction over the order. “I thought that the AICTE circular was going to destroy management institutes in India. But the interim relief is great news. Canceling XAT would have been a disaster because students have already spent money over it and related colleges have advertised in newspapers since months inviting applications,” he told PaGaLGuY.

“We were expecting this verdict and we were anticipating the one-year stay (on the circular). We are very happy as this has removed the uncertainty surrounding admissions,” said Parimal Merchant, Admission Chairperson for SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.

Dr Uday Salunkhe, Director of Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai said, “We are yet to receive the copy of the judgment, but we are glad with the news.”

Explaining the need for retaining autonomy of admissions within b-schools, he said, “We feel that individual programs demand assessment of different competencies and functional skills. This will now help business schools retain their individuality and differentiation. With so many different programs b-schools do use different selection parameters to identify profiles that best suit the student and the program offered.”

Asked whether Maharashtra-based b-schools will now adhere to the jointly conducted common admission process they had earlier decided upon or make use of the interm relief to conduct standalone admissions, Dr Salunkhe said, “Since we are yet to see the details of the judgment for a detailed response, we will soon be having a COME meeting to address the issue in the new light of things.” COME is the Consortium of Management Institutes, a group of Maharashtra-based b-schools that had secured relief from the AICTE circular at the Bombay High Court earlier this month.