Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Washington accord is not a panacea for the ills in higher education

In recent meeting on the permanent membership of Washington Accord, the academicians expressed positive thoughts.  It is felt that permanent membership of AICTE recognised institutions in the Washington Accord shall open greater job opportunities abroad for engineering graduates from India. The optimism is understandable but to look towards the accord as panacea for ills in the engineering education smacks of our penchant to look towards the west to solve our domestic problems. 

Our politicains do not miss opportunity to criticise US for its so called capitalist policy but prefer to take treatment in the US hospitals, even for the smallest illness, at the State's expense. The same attitude is seen while shopping for the advanced equipment for the country's defense preparedness. If the same trend continues, one wonders whether the indigenous industry and the institutions shall ever achieve parity over the advanced countries. Now it is the turn of higher education.

Most Principals, Directors and Promoters of the Higher Educational Institutions were of the opinion that being a part of Washington Accord shall lead to better quality of infrastructure and education in our institutions. How?

Who stops us from improving our standard right away? The problem is not the lack of opportunities but the lack of will to improve. The educational institutions are viewed as private business by most Promoters. What kind of a business is that, where the customers (viz. students and parents) are left with practically no choice of the product. Just look at the way the promoters are trying to bring moratorium on establishing new institutions. In the captive market, no one is ready to face competition. 

In fact it will not be proper to consider educational institution as private venture, because the institution is built and survives on the money received from the stakeholders (students and parents) but denies any right to them to decide about the management policy. Besides, the normal laws and economic criteria applied to any private venture are not applicable to the educational institutions. This issue needs serious consideration. 

 The great educational institutions of the world are not built by the criteria of accreditation. In fact accreditation only ensures the minimum standards, sky is the limit for quality.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Why AICTE protects non-viable engineering and management institutions

In a recent decision the AICTE, the apex organisation under the government of India, declared that they will not give approval for new engineering and management institutions in the country from the year 2014. As an educationist, I am surprised at the decision, for the following reasons:

(a) Although it is reported that large number of seats in some institutions remain unfilled, there are institutions which witness huge rush for the admissions. The students do not choose some, just because these are not good institutions.

(b) Some States have approached AICTE for imposing the ban. It is known that large number of these institutions are controlled by the politicians. It is possible that they pursued over the state government to take such decision. At least, the general public is likely to have that impression.

(c) The quality of higher education in the country is not good. One of the reasons is the customer (students and the parents) had no choice, as the number of seats available in the colleges fell short of the demand, till recently.

(d) Now since the number of seats available are more, the students and parents have choice to approach good institutions.

(e) The institutions will be required to continuously improve the academic quality, failing which they will perish. That is what happens to a non-viable industry. The same market forces should be allowed play, in case of educational institutions also. There should be no protection given by the government.

(f) The corporates are beginning to enter the education field. It is a welcome development, as it is bound to improve the quality. The AICTE imposing such a ban shall act as a deterrent.

Therefore it is suggested, the government should revoke the AICTE decision.

Dr J D Bapat's Website


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Accreditation! is it a quality standard?

In India, all higher educational institutions are required to get there teaching courses (programmes) accreditated by a national organisation, namely National Board of Accreditation (NBA). Similarly the universities are mandated to obtain accreditation by another national organisation, namely National Assessment and Acreditation Council (NAAC).  

The accreditation is only to ensure whether the educational institution or the university meets the minimum prescribed standard. However it is misunderstood as a quality standard and hampering the further growth of the educational institutions.

The educational institutions are required to submit an elaborate report on a prescribed format prepared by the accreditating organisations. The institutions spend months and sometimes even years, fulfilling these requirements. However in many cases, these requirements are fulfilled only on paper and does not lead to the improvement in quality of the educational institutions. The following are the visible indicators of the fact: 

(a) The course content lies far behind the practical requirement of the industry.

(b) Despite the accreditation, many institutions are found actually lacking in fulfilling the basic requirements of land, instructional area, qualified faculty, laboratory facilities and library.

(c) Some Deemed Universities are accreditated and authorised to award PG and Ph D Degrees. However many such institutions have a few qualified regular faculty on the rolls and seriously lack in the laboratory infrastructure.

(d) None of the so called top ranking institutions and universities in India come even near to the world standards and ranking


Friday, January 13, 2012

Free ACI Student Electronic Membership

This free electronic membership is designed to expose students, in a technologically-friendly manner, to the benefits of ACI. In addition to access to journals and publications, the E-Membership provides students with the opportunity to receive scholarships and create ties with the community. It is important for the students in their education. It will also help them create ties and gain knowledge from experienced members of ACI and their community.

Students can visit - 24 hours a day, seven days a week - for details and to sign up.

Inform students about this free program and encourage them to become ACI Student E-Members. 

Students are required to provide their professor's/advisor's name and e-mail address in the application so that ACI may confirm student status. Students who prefer to receive CI and Journals in the mail can still do so, for a fee.

American Concrete Institute
Phone: 248-848-3800

P.O. Box 9094
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9094