The Nitish Kumar-led government in Bihar has stepped in to bat for the Birla Institute of Technology (BIT) off-campus centre in Patna in the stand-off between the Union government and some deemed universities. In a letter last week, Bihar principal secretary of science and technology Arun Kumar Singh appealed to the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry for the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) approval to BIT Mesra’s centre in Patna. Mesra is near Ranchi, the Jharkhand capital, where BIT’s main campus is.
The UGC on November 9, 2015, had directed 10 deemed universities — including the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) in Pilani and the BIT in Mesra — to shut down their off-campus centres on the ground that they were “unauthorised” and set up without its permission.
An off-campus centre, according to the higher education regulator, means a centre of the deemed university located outside its main campus.
The notice created an uncertainty over the validity of BTech degrees awarded at the Patna centre when last month, the Council of Architecture (CoA), which provides registration to all architects in India, refused to register the first batch of architecture graduates from the Patna campus. V K Singh, the acting director of the Patna centre, confirmed this to The Indian Express.
The CoA’s refusal triggered the appeal from the Bihar government — an alliance between JD(U) and the BJP — to the HRD Ministry last week. According to sources, Arun Kumar Singh’s letter states that BIT Mesra’s branch in Patna was set up at the Bihar government’s request as the state lost two of its best engineering colleges — Birsa Institute of Technology in Sindri and BIT Mesra — to Jharkhand after the state’s bifurcation in 2000. The state invested close to Rs 50 crore and also gave 25 acres for the Patna centre as an incentive.
His missive also pointed out that at the time of establishing the BIT in Patna, a proposal for the UGC’s approval was submitted by BIT Mesra on December 17, 2005, but no response was received from the regulator then. “This was followed by another application in 2012 and a visit by the UGC team was scheduled, but it never took place,” said V K Singh. Fearing that the AICTE too may stop its approval to the institute’s programmes, the government is learnt to have written that the whole situation had created a sense of uncertainty on the campus and was affecting academic activities.
He then requested the HRD Ministry to order the UGC to recognise BIT Mesra’s centre in Patna. The Indian Express could not reach Arun Kumar Singh for comment.