UGC to consider Ph.D period as teaching experience

UGC realizing the scarcity of qualified faculty and with objective to encourage research students has now notified on 01.03.2016 Ph.D research period should be considered as experience for recruitment and promotion in the higher educational institutions. UGC has taken this decision in it’s 512th meeting held recently.

The UGC circular published on its website as Clarification on counting of the period of active service spent on pursuing Ph.D.”, which reads that the period of active service spent on pursuing Research Degree i.e. for acquiring Ph.D degree simultaneously, without taking any kind of leave, may be counted as teaching experience for the purpose of direct recruitment/ promotion to the post of Associate Professor and above.

EduLegaL View

It is clear from usage of expression “simultaneously” that this is applicable only to whom those who are already in service and pursuing Ph.D. simultaneously as a part time course and in that sense, it fails to meet the vision that it desired to.

However, the condition of “without taking any leave” is really harsh as it is unimaginable that a person will not take leave during 2-3 year of coursework. This harsh condition leaves this resolution only as an eyewash.

In any case, an employed faculty pursuing Ph.D., simultaneously will have his employment counted even otherwise as “experience”, then what is the benefit of this Notification?

Sometimes, the clarification creates more doubts than clarity !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

 

 

AICTE lays down Study Leave Guidelines for Teachers

AICTE has laid down comprehensive guidelines for availing Study Leave for the Teachers and other Academic Staff in Institutions approved by AICTE, who have joined the teaching services without without M. Tech./ Ph. D or other higher qualification.

The Guidelines prescribe that Study leave may be granted to pursue for study (M.E./M. Tech./ Ph. D) or research in the relevant discipline after a minimum of three years in regular service including the probation period. Study Leave keeping in mind the availability of teachers in the discipline and the vacant positions so that the regular academic work is not disturbed while granting study leave. Study leave shall be granted by the Institution on the recommendation of the concerned Head of the Department.

The paid period of study leave should be two/three years for Master/ Doctorial level respectively. Two years may be given in the first instance, extendable by one more year for Ph. D program. Any extension beyond the stipulated period shall be treated as leave without Pay.

However, such benefit can be availed only once during the entire service and will not be available to a teacher who is due to retire within five years of the date on which he/she is expected to return to duty. Study leave granted to a teacher shall be deemed to be cancelled in case it is not availed of within 12 months of its sanction. Provided that where study leave granted has been so cancelled, the teacher may apply again for such leave.

A teacher availing Study Leave shall continue to receive scholarship, fellowship or other financial assistance, in addition to the Salary being received by him at his home Institution. However, in the case of an Indian fellowship, which exceeds the salary of the teacher, the salary would be forfeited.

Study leave may be combined with earned leave, half-Pay leave, extraordinary leave or vacation, provided that the earned leave at the credit of the teacher shall be availed at the discretion of the teacher.

Another salient feature of the Scheme is that a teacher, who is selected to a higher post during study leave, will be placed in that position and get the higher scale only after joining the post and shall on his/her return and re-joining the service of the Institute be eligible to the benefit(s) of the annual increment(s) which he/she would have earned in the course of time if he/she had not proceeded on study leave. No teacher shall however, be eligible to receive arrears of increments.

Study leave shall count as service for pension/contributory provident fund purposes, provided the teacher joins back in the Institute on the expiry of his/her study leave.

After the leave has been sanctioned, the teacher shall execute a bond that he/she shall serve the Institute for a continuous period of at least three years to be calculated from the date of his/her resuming duty on expiry of the study leave. If the Faculty, fails to observe the conditions, amount paid to him might become refundable to the Institute

The teacher shall submit to the Head of the Institution, the progress report at a frequent interval of 6 months in his/her studies through his/her supervisor. This report shall reach the Head of the Institution of within one month of the expiry of every six months term of the study leave. If the report does not reach within the specified time, the payment of leave salary may be deferred till the receipt of such report.

EduLegaL View

The purpose of study leave is to enable a Faculty to pursue a course or to undertake research, which would improve his potential to serve the Institution and the Students. In that light, this is really a welcome move and will help streamline that process.

But there are few practical issues, How many of the Institutions, do actually follow this and How many of the teachers, do actually return to the Institutions, which granted the Study Leave. The answer is “very few”, which demoralizes such liberal policies.

Let us see, how this New Policy, takes effect !

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

Statutory Councils not in support of pursuing two degrees simultaneously

University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a Notice dated 15th January 2016 stating that its consultations related to allowing students to pursue two degrees simultaneously has not received a positive response and hence the possibility of allowing a student to pursue two degrees has hit a road block.

Earlier, in year 2012, a Committee headed by Mr. Fuqran Kamar, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Hyderabad, Mr. Manoj Kumar Mishra, Vice Chancellor, University of Lucknow and Prof. Sudhanshu Bhushan, NUEPA, New Delhi had recommended that students enrolled in a regular degree course should be allowed to pursue an additional degree simultaneously under open or distance education mode from the same or different university. However, students should not be allowed to undertake two regular degrees at the same time, the committee had held.

The Committee had also recommended that students enrolled in a regular degree course should be allowed to pursue an additional one Certificate/Diploma/ Post Graduate Diploma in regular or distance mode, from the same or different university.

The Committee was not in favour of allowing two degree programmes under regular mode simultaneously as it may create logistic, administrative and academic problems.

The University Grants Commission finally at a meeting on July 31, 2013 decided to accept its Committee’s recommendations on permitting pursuit of an additional degree programme, in the manner as aforesaid.

However, recently, UGC has notified that it had sought the comments of statutory councils on the issue of allowing pursuing two degrees simultaneously, but the responses of the Statutory Council was not encouraging. UGC has therefore directed the Institutions that they shall conduct their programmes in accordance with the First Degree and Master Degree Regulations, 2003 prescribed by the UGC and also follow the norms and parameters prescribed by the Statutory Council concerned, wherever relevant.

EduLegaL View:

The recent notice, without any clarity on the earlier Resolution has added to confusion for academic governance.

Pursuing two courses simultaneously allows a student to do value addition to him and enhance his knowledge and skill. It also adds to the prospect to his employability.

Not allowing pursuing two degree programmes in name of “logistic, administrative and academic problems” is a weak response to the growing demands of the students and such issues can easily be addressed.

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

 

 

RTI Act is not applicable to Deemed Universities: Karnataka High Court

RTI Act is not applicable to Deemed Universities: Karnataka High Court

The High Court of Karnataka setting aside the Judgement of Central Information Commission has held that Manipal University (MU), which is as Institution Deemed to be University does not come under the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005.

Pursuant to an Application by an advocate, regarding the number of students admitted to Pharma Courses, the University had responded saying that it was not covered within the scope of RTI Act, 2005 and hence is not bound to disclose the information. The Applicant being aggrieved, took the matter to Central Information Commission and the Commission was pleased to pass following order:

“It appears from Section 3 that deemed Universities are declared to be so by notification in the official Gazette by the Central Government. Of this is the case, then a deemed University may come with in the definition of “Public Authority”. As mentioned earlier, “Public Authority” does include any authority or body established or constituted by notification issued by the appropriate Government.”……………… “”University” means a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognized by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this Act. Manipal University by virtue of being a Deemed University is a Public authority as defined under the RTI act.”

 Being aggrieved, Manipal University had challenged the Order before the Karnataka High Court seeking declaration that Right to Information Act, 2005 is not applicable to the petitioner-university.

It was argued that University is a private educational institution, which is neither owned, controlled nor substantially financed by the Government. The nature of the control of the Government over the petitioner – University is only regulatory and not otherwise.

It was also contended that a Deemed to be University comes into existence by an Executive Charter and not by way of legislation as is usually done in case of Universities. It was argued that Central Information Commission did not consider the fine line of distinction between the University recognized under the UGC Act and the University established by the Central or a State Act.

The High Court while ruling in favour of the University accepted the argument that the Petitioner University and held that:

“ Given the above facts and circumstances and the legal arguments canvassed by the learned Senior Advocate, it would have to be accepted that the petitioner is a ‘Deemed to be University’ and recognized as such under the UGC Act and it is not established under the Act unlike a University, which is generally established under a statute either under a Central Government Act or State Government Act and therefore it could not be confused with any other University which may be so established. It is neither controlled or financed by the State Government and it is certainly a private institution with its own management and control and therefore, the same cannot be brought under the purview of the definition of a ‘public authority’ as contained under the RTI Act. Hence, it would not be tenable for the respondents to proceed as if the petitioner came under the definition of ‘public authority’ in having issued directions in the impugned order.”

Accordingly, it allowed the Writ Petition and quashed the impugned order.

EduLegaL View:

Though, I agree in principle with the Judgement, but I wish the High Court would also dealt with another important aspect in the definition of “Public Authority”, which deals with Notifications.

Section 2[h] of the Act, which defines “Public Authority” reads as under: “Public Authority” means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted: a. By or under the Constitution, b. By any other law made by Parliament; c. By any other law made by State Legislature; d. By notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any: (i) Body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) Non-Government Organisation substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government.”

Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956, which provides for the constitution of Deemed Universities, reads as follows:-

“The Central Government may, on the advice of the Commission, declare by notification in the Official Gazette, that any institution for higher education, other than a University, shall be deemed to be a University for the purpose of this Act, and on such a declaration being made, all the provisions of this Act shall apply to such institution as if it were a University within the meaning of clause (f) of Section 2.”

It is clear that “a notification” establishes a Deemed University, which is a common element in Section 3 of the UGC Act, 1956 and Section 2[h] of RTI Act, 2005. Some discussion on this issue by the High Court would have settled the issue.

Any ways, till then the Argument may continue!

Ravi Bhardwaj | mail@edulegal.in

Ranking Framework released for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions

AICTE, under the aegis of MHRD has released the Parameters and Metrics for Ranking for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions as part of the National Institutional Ranking Framework.

Earlier, MHRD vide Notification dated 09.10.2014, MHRD had constituted a Committee to suggest a National Framework for performance measurement and ranking of Institutions and Programmes conducted by the Institutions. The Committee was also asked to suggest organizational structure, institutional mechanism and processes for implementation along with time-lines of the National Ranking Framework.

The Committee was of the view that a single ranking framework for complex and diverse education scenario of institutions, as exist in India would be counter productive and meaningless. Hence it decided to follow apple-to-apple approach and proceeded to design a framework in which institutions belonging to different sectoral fields, such as Engineering, Management, etc. should be compared separately in their own respective peer groups. Comprehensive universities, which encompass a large number of academic programs including Arts, Humanities, Sciences etc., should similarly form a separate peer group for comparison. Resultantly, it decided to release Ranking Framework, Parameters and Metrics separately for each category of Institutions.

MHRD then formally, on 29.09.2015 launched the National Institutional Ranking Framework and also released the Parameters and Metrics for Engineering and Management Institutions.

Recently, AICTE, the regulator for Architecture and Pharmacy Education in India has released Parameters and Metrics for Ranking for Pharmacy and Architecture Institutions. The Framework provides that for the purpose of Ranking the Institutions will be divided two categories, first being engaged in Research and Teaching and second being engaged primarily in Teaching.

The Institutions will be assessed and ranked under five broad headings: (1) Teaching, Learning and Resources; (2) Research, Consulting and Collaborative Performance; (3) Graduation Outcomes; (4) Outreach and Inclusivity and (5) Perception.

MHRD has also rolled out participation in Ranking Framework for the Institutions, which are accredited/affiliated to the AICTE/UGC and has also made available a web-based platform the same. The process of submission and participation in the framework has begun from 2nd November 2015.

EduLegaL View:

I have always said that there exists body for assessment and accreditation in this country, like NAAC and NBA and hence MHRD should have attempted to integrate these processes instead of creating separate framework.

A closer look at the term of reference of the Committee, which designed this Framework, also includes, “Suggest linkages with NAAC and NBA, if any.”, as one of the terms of reference. I wonder what has happened to this term of reference.

The Administrators must understand that burdening educational institutions with continued and different assessment is not going to add to their quality, but will reduce their quality.

So where are we going? What are we trying to achieve?

 

NAAC warns Institutions to refrain from Plagiarism in SSR

National Assessment and Accreditation Council [NAAC] taking cognizance of complaints regarding “made up” informations and contents in Self Study Report submitted by the Institutions has warned the Institutions to refrain from venturing into plagiarism.

NAAC in recent past has taken several steps to strengthen the process of Assessment and Accreditation [A&A], which includes compulsory video recording of visits of the Peer Team to the Institutions. It had also issued cautionary Public Notice warning the Institutions about some mischievous agencies, which were conducting workshops claiming assistance in getting Grade “A” and helping in preparing SSR by making up data and contents.

The Revised Procedure of Assessment and Accreditation now involves submitting Letter of Intent (LOI) after uploading the Self-study Report (SSR) on the institutional website. Upon acceptance of LOI, the institution has to submit the SSR within two weeks and thereafter Peer Team visits for the purpose of Assessment followed by the declaration of Accreditation.

NAAC has developed different manuals which provide information on how the self-study report (SSR) is to be prepared, the criteria and key aspects to be addressed and the style of presentation. Still, SSR Preparation it seems has developed as big market and so called experts are helping in preparation and sale of SSRs for a big sum, with colleges ready to bear and cover these expenses.

SSR is the most critical document for the purpose of accreditation. It is like an answer sheet. It contains the vision and mission statement of the Institution, its strengths, infrastructure, facilities and amenities. It also draws the future plan of Institutions. NAAC has found that some Institutions are copying contents from SSR, which are available on the website of participating institutions and passing it as their own.

Considering the importance of SSR in process of Assessment and Accreditation and continuing with the cleansing measure, NAAC after receiving complaints regarding unfair practices of Plagiarism adopted by institutions in the preparation of the self-study report has therefore requested the Institutions to ensure that all claims made in the self-study report are validated prior to its submission to NAAC.

It has also resolved and sent a strong message that any institution indulging in any unfair practice will be debarred from applying for accreditation.

Being debarred from applying for accreditation will mean havoc for erring Institution, as under the UGC (Mandatory Assessment and accreditation of Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012, which makes it mandatory for educational institutions to participate in accreditation process, any Institution which is not participating in process of Accreditation will be subject to punitive measures, which may include withholding of grant, revocation of affiliation.

EduLegal View

Before, I give my view, please know that one of the questions in the SSR to be submitted by the Institution is as follows:

3.4.6 What is the official policy of the university to check malpractices and plagiarism in research? Mention the number of plagiarism cases reported and action taken.

It is ironical that the erring participating Institution, which would obviously speak epics in answering the question, would indulge in plagiarism.

Plagiarism is like a sin, it is an act of fraud, and it is an Intellectual Theft and must be dealt with strongly. It is utter violation of institutional and academic ethics. Laws are inadequate to deal with these situations. It has been handled by executive orders. Even the UGC Accreditation Regulations, 2012 does not have any express provision for the same. It is high time that Centre must bring in effective law to deal with malpractices and unfair trade practices in educational institutions.

‘Imprint India’- an IIT & IISC Contemporary Research Initiative to be launched tomorrow

IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT), is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten technology domains relevant to India will be launched by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee  tomorrow (November 5, 2015) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

It is a Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) project to address the major engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance.

IMPRINT India will focus on ten themes which have immediate social relevance, with each to be coordinated by one IIT/IISc, namely:-

(a) Health Care – IIT Kharagpur,

(b) Computer Science and ICT – IIT Kharagpur,

(c) Advance Materials – IIT Kanpur,

(d) Water Resources and River systems – IIT Kanpur,

(e) Sustainable Urban Design – IIT Roorkee,

(f) Defence – IIT Madras,

(g) Manufacturing – IIT Madras,

(h) Nano-technology Hardware- IIT Bombay,

(i) Environmental Science and Climate Change – IISc, Bangalore and

(j) Energy Security – IIT Bombay.

Before embarking on a real technology development mission, it is prudent to define the goal, create a strategy and draw a pragmatic roadmap. Hence this novel initiative, the first phase, comprises a twofold mandate of. Firstly it is about developing new engineering education policy. Secondly it is to create a roadmap including infrastructure readiness to pursue these selected challenges.

The idea of ‘IMPRINT India’ is based on suggestion that research done by institutions of national importance must be linked with immediate requirements of the society at large. The objectives of this initiative is to  (1) identify areas of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation, (2) direct scientific research into identified areas, (3) ensure higher funding support for research into these areas and (4) measure outcomes of the research effort with reference to impact on the standard of living in the rural/urban areas.

EduLegaL View:

It is a great step in pursuit of Research India, a really welcome one ! But I would like to see some more initiatives, which involve industry, private players in this domain. More of a Public-Private Initiative.

For the meantine, it is well begun !