The bid of technical education regulator, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to push for quality by prescribing mandatory online journals has faced resistance with private institutions terming it a way to provide business to foreign journals.
The AICTE had revised its policy on journals and for the first time has prescribed mandatory subscription of foreign e-journals on computers, engineering, management, pharmacy, architecture, biotechnology and hotel management. The annual subscription costs of these e-journals vary from US $ 1,000 to US $ 6,500.
“Private educational institutions will be providing business worth Rs 1,500 crore to these foreign publishers just because of the AICTE order,” said chairperson of a Punjab based private educational institution. The Educational Promotion Society of India (ESPI) described the decision as “whimsical”.
AICTE chairman SS Mantha termed the argument of private institutions as “frivolous”. “These institutions spent so much on granite flooring and air-conditioning but cannot spent money on procuring world class e-journals which would ensure quality in technical education,” he told HT.
Several studies on pass-outs from technical educational institutes have found them to be of poor quality. A NASSCOM-McKinsey study of 2005 had found only 10 % of engineering graduates to be employable.
The AICTE in the last few years had tried to improve quality and prescribed buying of printed journals. This year the council decided for online journals considering their better access and regular up-gradation.
The e-journals prescribed by AICTE are also subscribed by Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management, country’s premier higher education institutions. “These journals help students to remain updated on what’s happening in their respective fields around the world,” an IIT director said.
Mantha also negated the claim that it will increase costs for students saying that the private institutions charge a hefty library fees from students but fail to provide access to high quality reading material. The council has negotiated price with these e-journal publishers and the institutions would be getting them as a discounted price, he said.
The private institutes are also furious as AICTE did not consult them before issuing a direction in this regard. “The stakeholders in such a decision, namely the institutes and the faculty affected, have not been consulted,” Harivansh Chaturvedi, alternate president of ESPI said, in a letter to HRD minister Kapil Sibal.