In a first, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has decided to take legal advice before approving courses or technical programmes, and is getting lawyers on board for the process of giving nods to courses in new and existing institutes.
The decision was taken after a series of complaints of institutes submitting false and wrong information to seek approval came to light.
According AICTE officials, the move is to ensure that colleges do not resort to shortcuts or submit fake information, as the approval process has gone online and there is no physical verification of details provided.
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An official from AICTE western region said, “Ever since the process went online two years ago, AICTE has received numerous complaints of institutes not sharing accurate details or providing misleading information. It was found that multiple colleges were operating from the same campus or building, while rules state that each institution has to have an independent structure.”
“Norms on number of faculty, classrooms and laboratories were also being flouted. Hence, it was decided to include lawyers and advocates along with academics in the committee that verifies the documents,”the official said.
“This will not only help verify legalities of the documents but also in initiating legal action against those providing false information,” he added. AICTE has even published advertisements inviting experts and the legal fraternity to join them.
Dr S K Mahajan, director of Directorate of Technical Education, Maharashtra, said that AICTE follows a self-disclosure policy while giving sanctions and does not visit every college. “Only when there is a complaint that we take action against the college concerned,” he said.
Institutes under the purview of AICTE have to seek annual approval to continue technical courses and for the in-take capacity of courses. The approval is sought on the basis of 10 norms they have to comply with. These include infrastructure, facilities such as library, laboratory and number of teachers, among others.