A total of 4,965 students, who passed the first and second semester of B E examinations from seven government engineering colleges and one grant-in-aid college held in the last academic session (in May this year), have not received their marksheets yet, while their counterparts from 118 engineering institutes in the state have got their score cards.
The incident reflects the casual approach of the state government towards technical education in the state. Senior authorities in the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE), who are responsible for the mess, have been avoiding to answer the questions raised by the students. The authorities are trying to pacify the students and their parents by saying that the students would require the score cards only on completion of their courses after passing semester VIII exams, when they go out for placement or seeking admission to post-graduate courses.
Surprisingly, these colleges are the ones that have been granted financial and academic “autonomy” by the state government under the Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP), funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and the state government. While MHRD funds 75 per cent of the scheme, the remaining 25 percent is contributed by the state government. Each of these colleges are getting a minimum of Rs two crore annually for the last two to three years for improving their infrastructure, like laboratories and training of faculty members and staff. The autonomous colleges are allowed to prepare their own study material, conduct their examinations individually independent of the affiliating university like Gujarat Technolgoical University (GTU) and award their own score card. However, the certificates are to be issued by the GTU with the name of the autonomous college from where the students have passed. The certificates given to the students from non-autonomous colleges don’t bear the name of the institute where they have studied. The non-autonomous engineering institutes, 98 in all, are under GTU and the latter is responsible for conducting their examinations as they follow GTU syllabus.
Sources at DTE said that autonomous colleges could be allowed autonomy to conduct examinations and award marksheets only after approval by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). But the senior officials at DTE, sources said, allowed the colleges to go ahead with conducting their own examinations, hoping they would get permission from UGC and AICTE. Getting permission from the two bodies is a difficult process as it requires physical survey of the institutes to verify the infrastructure and academic staff as per norms required for autonomous institutions.
The two regulatory bodies surveyed only one college – BVM College of Engineering at Vallabh Vidyanagar last week. DTE sources said that it was not obligatory for the regulatory bodies to give their approval simply because the state government had proposed for it. They said they might even deny it if the institutions did not fulfil the conditions required for autonomy. Under such circumstances, awarding of marksheets by the colleges would be invalid and not considered by any of the institutes anywhere in the country or abroad.
The incident has led to apprehension among students about their future. Sources said that DTE was now bringing pressure on GTU authorities to award marksheets to students. But GTU is in a dilemma as how to go about it because the colleges have not followed its syllabus and GTU has also not conducted the examinations. None of the GTU officials agreed to talk about the issue.
H S Patel, principal of the Government Engineering College at Patan, said: “We went ahead as per directions of the DTE and the latter will do something to solve the issue.” He said that he had forwarded the marks scored by the students to GTU to enable the latter to prepare the score cards under the existing circumstances.
Asked who will conduct the third semester examinations for these students to be held in November this year, he said: “It is for the DTE to decide.”
While the Commissioner for Higher Education Jayanti Ravi could not be contacted despite several efforts, Ushaben Nilkanthan, coordinator at DTE’s State Project Facilitation Unit involved in implementation of the TEQIP, said: “We are working to secure permission from UGC and AICTE fast.”