The once larger-than-life AICTE ‘almost’ ceases to today. Thanks to a couple of Supreme Court judgements and also the Centre’s slothful approach to higher education in general, the regulatory body has little to do.
SS Mantha, chairman of AICTE is as baffled as most management and engineering institutes in the country are at this moment. Mantha, who is rather quiet these days made an exception for PaGaLGuY and answered a few straight questions.
The Supreme Court judgements were hard
After 30 years, it is now felt that AICTE did nothing and that standards have declined and so many other issues. What to say.
Apparently your problems started during a court case in which AICTE’s regulatory powers were not in contention?
Yes, sometime in 2004, AICTE objected to some arts, science colleges in Tamil Nadu for running a Master of Computer Applications programme. Some universities went to court to check whether they needed AICTE’s permisssion for these courses. That is when it all started.
But institutes have found issues with your regulatory powers?
There are problems with all regulatory and governing bodies. After the recent court judgement, quite a few institutes have come together in support of AICTE.
What would you say AICTE actually did in the last 30 years?
We brought it accountability, transparency and flexibility in the system.
Can you be more specific?
We brought in e-governance. A purely transaction based system was converted to a process driven one which was based on rules, open to scrutiny and RTI complaints. We maintain electronic records.
But corruption is still a complaint?
The benefits of e-governance is that there is utmost transparency. This means that corrupt practices and delays have almost ended. I can say that about AICTE for sure. Elimination of manual processing has only led to better productivity.
Any initiatives taken by AICTE in the last 30 years?
We have ensured that 5% of intake in all courses come under the Tuition Fee Waiver Scheme. This benefits over 1 lakh students. We make surprise visits to institute. We have also made rules easy for institutes.
Anything specific to management institutes?
Yes, we started CMAT and conducted it successfully. We try to ensure that institutes follow a common admissions calender and have also pushed for a model curriculum. We have started integrated management programmes with professional programmes and also dual degree programmes.
You have been allotted a 5-acre plot at JNU for a permanent campus, what happens to that?
Yes, construction began in 2012 and will be completed by September 2014. Other AICTE offices in states like Gujarat, Assam, MP, Kerala are also in the midst of getting new offices.
UGC now takes over many of your functions.
I just hope technical education gets the importance it deserves. Some universities do not even have engineering departments.
What happens to CMAT?
Nothing, CMAT continues as it is. In fact, many more states have opted for CMAT.