(Part 1) AICTE was meant to co-ordinate, never control, says Prof Chandra who created the body

While the education fraternity furiously debates over the fate of AICTE, PaGaLGuY managed to speak to none other than the Father of AICTE, Prof Ashoka Chandra. Former Special Secretary to Indian government, Prof Chandra drafted the AICTE Act.

At one time, the entire higher technical education system was in his hands. Besides, holding various important positions at the Centre and on missions abroad, he has over 100 publications to his credit.

In a 2-part series, Prof Chandra tells us all we ever wanted to know about AICTE.

The recent SC judgement goes against AICTE?

Technical education defined under section 2 (g) does include management. In my perception unless the Act is modified ‘management’ would continue to be part of technical education. The precise nature of management education has nothing to do with the statutory position of technical education as defined in the Act. Co- ordination of technical education at all levels is the responsibility of the AICTE under the Act. Elsewhere also the ACT speaks of coordinated development of technical and management education. However, coordination does not necessarily mean control.

What’s UGC’s role?

Section 2 (h), defines technical institutions. This specifically excludes universities. Therefore universities and affiliated colleges are not ‘technical institutions, under the control of the AICTE. AICTE can provide guidelines, norms, standards , but these have to be enforced by the University and/or the UGC. Both UGC and AICTE were set up under the same provision laid under the Union List, entry 66, which provides for co-ordination and maintenance of standards of higher education and research in the country.

Is AICTE a stronger body than the UGC?

AICTE Act does not supersede the UGC Act and does not take away UGC’s powers, but it does have the responsibility to ‘co-ordinate’ technical education throughout the country wherever that may lie, just as, say, in the case of medical education and the role of the Medical Council. For facilitating co-ordination, UGC is represented on the AICTE through its Chairman. MoUs were developed with Pharmacy Council, and Council of Architecture so that they worked with the AICTE in their respective areas and helped achieve AICTE’s statutory responsibility of co-ordination and maintenance of standards. AICTE can cause inspection of institutions of technical education under the Universities but in co-ordination and consultation with the University and the UGC, and can only make recommendations to them for appropriate action.

So AICTE has the powers to approve new institutes?

Section 10 (K) provides AICTE authority for approval of ‘new technical institutions’ and ‘new courses’ in ‘consultation with concerned agencies.’ By definition of technical institution in section 2(h) AICTE ‘approval’ for establishment of new technical education institutions under the UGC’ are ruled out, but ‘co-ordination’ is not, and AICTE can provide ‘norms and standards’ even for these institutions. The UGC can then enforce those standards in institutions in its own domain. The same logic was responsible for AICTE and UGC setting up separate NBA and NAAC respectively.

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