UGC snubs MHRD by re-imposing ban on technical distance education degrees

UGC has undone a great policy initiative taken by MHRD to recognize technical education obtained distance education by re-imposing the ban on such degrees and has cautioned by way of Public Notice that no institution is permitted to offer Diploma, Bachelor or Masters level programme under ODL mode in Engineering and Technology.

In a big departure from its earlier stand, the Centre has notified in July 25, 2015 Notification that degrees, diplomas and certificates granted by universities through open and distance-learning mode of education for programmes including technical education would now be considered valid for Government Employment.

MHRD

The path breaking approach of MHRD was consistent with recommendation of Madhav Menon Committee, which had advocated that recognition of technical education qualification from distance education mode is consistent with National Policy of Education and should be allowed by using Study Learning Material for theory component, face-to-face / e-learning for interaction and compulsory practical component for development of requisite skill. Regular face-to-face counselling sessions during weekends should be used for clarification and removal of doubts. Laboratory experiments could be conducted in AICTE recognized colleges taking into account the physical infrastructure and human resource required for the purpose.

DEB

Now the present notice issued by UGC, which has come as a big shock, ignores not only the recommendation of the Madhav Menon Committee but also the Notification issued by MHRD and is actually repetitive of the earlier approach of UGC and AICTE, which has always followed a policy of not approving B.Tech, M.Tech, courses in distance mode, but have only recognising MBA / MCA Qualifications from Distance Education Mode.

UGC has turned the tide termed offering such courses by Institutions to be “misleading” and in “gross violation” of the policy regarding offering programmes in Open and Distance Learning Mode. It also clarified that it has not recognized any Institution to offer distance Programme in technical education and such qualification, acquired by a student shall not be eligible for employment in Government Services or for pursuing higher studies.

The proposed Distance Education Council Bill, 2014 also makes provisions for technical education within the scope of Distance Education and the proposed Council has representations from AICTE and other technical / professional regulators.

EduLegaL View

Higher Education in our country has experienced substantial growth however has failed to scale upto the required strengths more so because it is highly dependent on conventional education, which is highly capital-intensive.

The need of the hour is to develop an alternative mode of education to supplement the conventional education system, through policy initiatives to facilitate the expansion of higher education sector for the fulfillment of aspirations of those who are deprived of pursuing it for whatever reason and recognising the qualifications earned through distance education for employability is certainly one of such policy initiatives.

UGC’s Notice is a step backwards and works against the aspirations.

But the larger picture is, WHAT IS A CONFUSION BETWEEN TWO APEX AGENCIES, MHRD and UGC ?

Read Related Stories:

Distance Education Certifications now valid for Government Employment

Ban on distance BTech, MTech lifted

ODL education recognised for central government jobs

Ban on distance BTech lifted

 

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Making Energy Audit mandatory for Educational Institutions

 

Our country has been experiencing remarkable growth, both industrial and intellectual in last decade.  We all agree to a fact that any growth should be sustainable and inclusive in nature. Obviously, when we talk of growth, the stimulus for growth also becomes an integral part of the discussion. “Energy” or “Power” undoubtedly is one of the most important stimulus for growth and rank par is “Education”, which is indication of Human Resource Index of the Country.

Having said that “sustainability” can ensure that growth story is more enjoyable in terms of impact and longevity. I feel that considering the depleting character of natural resources, sustenance in terms of “Energy” becomes very critical. More particularly in education sector, as usage and consumption of energy in educational institutions is quite high and more often than not, in an unorganized manner. My idea is not paint the educational institutions in bad colour but to project the true picture.

In present scenario the energy conservation plays an important role. It is because consumption of energy is increasing day by day and the generation is not matching with it. The energy conservation helps in reducing the energy consumption and provide the savings. By adopting proper measures energy awareness to make the people aware the importance of energy the required result can be achieved.

Since, the advent of accounting practices, we have been used to the term “Audit”, which is generally used to study the manner and pattern of expenditure and also to point out the gray areas and suggest reformative measures.

It happened so that I was researching for legal audit, which I was about to conduct for an educational institution and I came across this noble concept of “Energy Audit of Educational Institutions”. After reading through some articles on Internet / Journals, I found that “Energy Audit” is a wide spectrum of energy study, which ranges from identifying major energy problem areas to implications of alternative energy efficient measures. It involves analyzing the actual consumption of electrical energy and measures of energy conservation. Energy Audit helps to understand more about the ways energy and fuel are used in any industry and help in identifying the areas where waste can occur and where scope for improvement exists.

India with the second largest population in the world is now one of the fastest growing economies with a rapid growth in GDP. In the past few decades the need for trained people is rapidly increasing in the industrial and other fields to support our countries technological growth. This has lead to the establishment of more and more technological and educational institutions in India. India has a large number of Universities, colleges, and other institutions and the number is growing rapidly in the past few decades.

It is well known that educational institutions consume resources like water, electricity; forest product’s and generates wastes like many industries. Establishment and operating of Universities are not covered by any of the environmental laws in India. As a result, the importance of making the Universities operate with self consciousness in the utility of resources inside the campus is least understood.

The educational institutes have a responsibility to become a role model for the nation to save energy and promote optimization. They should also develop and promote indigenous technology. They support a large number of faculties and training facilities which can be a good platform to raise the awareness and promote energy saving. The government run educational institutes should be more responsible towards energy saving and its proper management as they are the hub of all researches and innovations.

An energy study review of various international and national educational institutions indicates that 5-20% of energy can be saved. Some of the Reports that I have perused, of Aligarh Muslim University, National Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training, Chandigarh and National Institute of Technology, Kurushetra, really highlight of importance of Energy Audit in educational institutions. 

Business-Energy-Audit

These Reports have suggested several measures like increasing substation to reduce line losses, the conventional regulators to be replaced by power electronic regulators, Biogas can also be used for heating purpose in hostels and residences, Better ventilation in buildings will lead to greater cooling, Using of electric sensor doors and many more. These Reports really make an interesting reading and it is these Reports and literature available there, which has formed the content of this write up.

In India, it is not mandatory to perform energy auditing in educational institution as it is not in the list of designated (power) consumer. However, considering the importance of energy and its consumption in an educational institution, I wish to suggest that Energy Audit of Educational Institutions should be made mandatory.

To start, Audit can be made mandatory in all the Universities including Central University, State University and Deemed University, because the Universities have large cluster of students in particular students on residential campus, as Hostel Buildings are the main cause of energy wastage. Thereafter we can proceed to Residential Schools and Colleges. 

 

Infact, “Energy Management and Conservation Practices”, should be made an important parameter while granting recognition to an Institution. I also suggest that “Energy Management and Conservation Practices”, should also be one of the parameters for the purpose assessing an educational institution for accreditation or ranking under National Assessment and Accreditation Council, National Board of Accreditation and National Institutional Ranking Framework.

 

Save Energy ! Save Life ! Green India !

Ravi Bhardwaj | Founder and Principal Consultant | EduLegaL

mail@edulegal.in

 

Deemed Universities are state / public authority, within the meaning of Article 12 of Constitution of India: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court while deciding the issue of maintainability of a Writ Petition against a Deemed University has held that a Deemed University being created / established for imparting education, which is an important public function, therefore it comes within the ambit of Article 12 of Constitution of India and hence amenable to Writ Jurisdiction of High Court / Supreme Court.

The case relates to a Faculty of a Deemed University, who was terminated after disciplinary proceedings. She successfully challenged the termination before the Single Judge in Madras High Court and her termination was set aside. The University then challenged the order of the Single Judge in Appeal. The Division Bench set aside the order and held that a Deemed University is neither a State nor an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and hence it cannot be subjected to writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution to examine the legality and correctness of the dismissal order.

Aggrieved by the said judgment, the Faculty challenged the Judgement in Supreme Court.

As significant legal issue was involved in the matter and the aggrieved faculty had no legal assistance, the Court requested Mr. Harish Salve, Senior counsel, to assist the Court to enable us to properly appreciate and decide the issues arising in the case.

Shri Salve submitted to the Court the test as to whether any person/body/organization/authority, would be subjected to writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, can be done asking as whether the concerned body has been formed for discharging any “Public function” or “Public duty” and if so, whether it is actually engaged in any public function or/and performing any such duty.

He also submitted that in the light of several judgements “imparting education to students at large” is a “public function” and, therefore, if any body or authority, as the case may be, is found to have been engaged in the activity of imparting education to the students at large then irrespective of the status of any such authority, it should be made amenable to writ jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court agreed with submission of Shri Harish Salve and ruled that Respondent Deemed University can be subjected to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, for following reasons:

[A] Firstly, Respondent Deemed University is engaged in imparting education in higher studies to students at large.

[B] Secondly, it is discharging “public function” by way of imparting education.

[C] Thirdly, it is notified as a “Deemed University” by the Central Government under Section 3 of the UGC Act.

[D] Fourthly, being a “Deemed University”, all the provisions of the UGC Act are made applicable to Respondent University, which inter alia provides for effective discharge of the public function – namely education for the benefit of public.

[E] Fifthly, once Respondent University is declared as “Deemed University” whose all functions and activities are governed by the UGC Act, alike other universities then it is an “authority” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution.

The Court thus observed that once a Deemed University is held to be an “authority” as provided in Article 12 then as a necessary consequence, it becomes amenable to writ jurisdiction of High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court thus set aside the Judgement of Division Bench of High Court and remanded the matter to the Division of the High Court to decide the respondent’s appeal on merits on the question as to whether the Single Judge was justified in allowing the writ petition on merits.

EduLegaL View

There is a legal distinction between “authority” under Article 12 and Article 226. A Statute does not create a Deemed University; rather it is created under a Statute. There is a well-marked distinction between a body, which is created by the statute and a body, which is given a legal status under a Statute.

A Deemed University, only because it has been brought into existence by virtue of notification u/s 3 of UGC Act, 1956 and UGC Act, 1956 and its functions are regulated by  UGC, it does not become “authority” for the purpose of Article 12. The test under “Article 12” is much higher than “Article 226”.

When a law provides that something shall be deemed to exist, the court is bound to ascertain the purpose for which the fiction was created and the parties between whom the fiction was to operate, so that full effect may be given to the intention of the legislature and the purpose may be carried to its logical conclusion. The legal fiction of “Deemed University” was created for the purpose of making the provisions of the UGC Act, 1956 to the Institution enabling it to conduct courses and impart degrees and nothing beyond that.

Public function and Public Duty test may be adequate for bringing a Deemed University within the ambit of Article 226 but that cannot be true for Article 12 as well.

Now that SUPREME COURT has settled an issue, the Argument can continue!

Government of India Signs MoU to establish 3 IIITs

The Central Government today signed Memorandum of Understanding and documentation for establishing three Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIITs) at Ranchi, Nagpur and Pune. These IIITs are operated on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode with participation of State Government and Industry, apart from the Central Government. The IIITs are expected to bring out high quality IT manpower required for building up IT industry in the country. The agreement has been signed by Shri Vinay Sheel Oberoi, Secretary, Department of Higher Education from the Central Government side and by Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, M/s ADCC Infocad, Nagpur and M/s Hubtown, Mumbai.

IIIT-Ranchi will operate from the Old Judicial Academy in the Administrative Training Institute, Ranchi admitting 120 students for the year 2016-17 through JEE 2016 examination. The partners for IIIT-Ranchi – the TCS and Tata Motors have committed participation in developing curriculum which is required by the industry. The institution will be mentored by NIT-Jamshedpur.

IIIT-Nagpur will be set up in the BMIT Campus (temporary campus) with the participation of M/s ADCC Infocad and TCS. Government of Maharashtra has identified 88 acres of land for setting up a permanent campus. The BNIT will be the mentor institution. It has proposed to admit 120 students in the CSE and ECE branches in 2016 through JEE-2016 examination.

IIIT-Pune will be set up in the Siddhant Engineering College (temporary campus) and the permanent campus will be constructed at Chakan for which the State Government has identified 100 acres of land. The industry partners are M/s Hubtown Mumbai and M/S Roltas have agreed to develop the curriculum suitable to the industry. The Institute will start functioning under the mentorship of COE Pune and 120 students will be admitted in 2016 through JEE-2016.

With this, the total number of IIITs in the PPP mode has gone up to 16, leaving 4 more to be set up for which scheduled has been fixed in the month of January 2016.

RTE Act does not guarantee admission to school of choice: HC

Himachal Pradesh High Court while answering a question, “Whether children through their parents have unfettered right to choose a school, in which they wish to study?” has held that free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school as guaranteed under the RTE Act does not mean that a child has unfettered right to admission in the school of one’s choice.

In this case, the petitioner father had approached Respondent school for admitting his younger child in class 3, but was denied the admission on the ground that the child did not make a grade and therefore, could not be selected. It was claimed that Respondent school is hardly at a distance of 75 meters from his residence and as per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, his child has an unfettered right to be admitted in the school and the respondents have no discretion whatsoever to deny him admission.

The respondent-School contested the Petition and stated that it is a non-aided school and that the admissions made by it are strictly in conformity with the Act. It is further averred that the son of the petitioner had competed with the other children who were desirous of being admitted in class 3, but failed to make a grade and therefore, could not granted admission.

Himachal-Pradesh-High-Court.jpg

The High Court of Himachal Pradesh considered the argument of the parties and disposed off the Writ Petition by observing that Section 3(i) of the Act provides that every child of the age of six to fourteen years shall have right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school till completion of elementary education ensuring that a school is available in the neighborhood and free and compulsory education in neighborhood school is available to every child of the age group to which statute applies, but then this provision, in no manner gives a right to the child or parents to pick and choose a particular school, which falls under Section 12 of the Act, except to the extent of the provisions contained in this Section read with Section 2(n) of the Act.

The Court was also of the view that any direction to admit the student belonging to non-minority, then the same would lead to an invasion of its right guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution to the Schools.

The High Court was clear to observe that school’s responsibility for free and compulsory education is governed by Section 12 of the Act and sub-section 1(c) thereof provides the extent to which provisions have to be made in favour of the weaker section, disadvantaged group etc., but right to free and compulsory education in a neighborhood school does not include the right to insist on any school of choice under the Act. The High Court accordingly dismissed the Petition.