The University Grants Commission plans to ask all universities to halt affiliations to any new engineering, management or technical education college in an unprecedented move driven by government concerns that substandard institutions may misuse a recent Supreme Court order.
India’s more than 550 universities can only restart affiliating technical colleges once the UGC comes up with detailed regulations to ensure that the court order doesn’t help institutions ignore quality parameters, top government officials have told HT.
The apex court on April 25 ruled that the All India Council for technical Education (AICTE) – the country’s top technical education regulator – has no supervisory authority over colleges affiliated to universities, in an order that immediately sent tremors in the ministry of human resource development (HRD).
“The UGC letter will ask all universities to suspend any further affiliations to technical colleges till we tell them to start again,” a senior official closely associated with the decision said.
India only allows universities and institutions like the IITs set up under Acts of Parliament or state legislatures to offer degrees. Colleges must be affiliated to universities. This system gives the central government powers to regulate standards but also creates tension between regulators and institutions over academic autonomy.
It was while hearing one such case, that the country’s top court ruled that the AICTE – which till now has held the undisputed power to authorize all technical education courses – had no authority over colleges affiliated to universities.
The AICTE has asked the HRD ministry to push for an ordinance circumventing the Supreme Court order, to restore its power. But many in the government remain unconvinced that such an ordinance will succeed in winning approval from a bitterly divided Parliament.