Despite all-India rank 640 in the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) in 2008 (replaced by JEE later) and all-India rank 5 in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) in 2013, Triveni Prasad Nanda, a graduate from the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Bhopal, faces an uncertain future.
The Bhopal school and SPA Vijaywada were established in 2008 by the Central government as ‘institutes of national importance’. Like Prasad, hundreds of other meritorious students, too, were drawn to the schools to pursue degree and master’s degree courses in architecture.
When the first batches of more than 120 of BArch students in both institutes, admitted in 2008, passed out in 2013, they found – to their horror – that both schools did not have degree granting status. The second batch which has passed out this year shares a similar plight.
“As we did not have a degree certificate, the Council of Architecture (CoA) refused to give us a registration number that would allow us to practice as architects. So I chose to go for a master’s and secured AIR 5 in GATE. Then, on the written assurance of the SPA Bhopal that I would get the degree certificate, I got admitted to IIT Kharagpur and will complete my master’s in 2015. However, by that time if the Central government does not pass an Act in the Parliament to empower the two SPAs with degree granting status, all my hard work and money will go waste,” says Prasad.
According to officials of the two SPAs, the fate of around 1,000 meritorious students hangs in balance as the MHRD has yet to pass an act to empower these two SPAs with degree conferring status.
Both schools have been offering a five-year bachelor of architecture, a four-year bachelor of planning and two-year master’s in architecture and planning from 2008 onwards without being affiliated to any university or having the status of a university.
Like Prasad, Nagpur-based Atul Lalsare, too, does not find his career going anywhere significant. After completing his BArch from the Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, (VNIT) Nagpur in 2010, he was selected for a national students’ scholarship 2010 by the Institute for Steel Development and Growth, Kolkata, after which he applied for an MArch programme in urban design from SPA, Bhopal. He passed out in 2012, but has yet to get a job. “I lost my father at an early age and my mother has brought me up with her hard -earned money. Only I knew how she managed to pay the `3 lakh fee for my master’s course. Now even after completing the course I don’t have master’s degree certificate and cannot apply for any government job,” says Lalsare. He feels lucky, however, to be registered as an architect because of the BArch programme he did from VNIT, which granted him a degree certificate.
Says Akhil Chaudhary (name changed), who completed his BArch from SPA Vijaywada in 2013, “Students face multiple problems due to government apathy. Those who passed BArch in 2013 and 2014 and B Plan in 2012, 2013 and 2014 are badly impacted because they can’t practice their profession independently. Some students also find it difficult to pursue master’s in foreign universities. Those who completed their BArch and B Plan from other institutes and came to SPA Bhopal or Vijayawada for MArch and MPlan are facing problems.”
Alumni associations of the two SPAs allege that the government is not responding to their requests to take appropriate steps to empower the two SPAs with degree granting status.
“We met Ashok Thakur, secretary, higher education and pleaded that meritorious students of the country not be victimised. The HRD minister Smriti Irani recently came to Bhopal to lay the foundation stone of one of our buildings and the faculty apprised her of the plight of hundreds of students but nothing has happened. Had the government taken action, the issue would have been resolved in the monsoon session of the Parliament, but it seems that all our requests are falling on deaf ears,” says Navjit Gaurav, president of the alumni association of SPA, Bhopal.
# I lost my father at an early age and my mother raised `3 lakh for my master’s studies. The government doesn’t care for our problems ----- Atul Lalsare, student of MArch, SPA Bhopal
# I have been hearing since 2012 that a bill is pending in the parliament to empower the two SPAs to grant degrees but where is that bill? ---Triveni Prasad Nanda, student of MTech, IIT kharagpur
# How can a government create institutes of national importance which deprive meritorious students of their basic rights? It’s just ludicrous --- Anupam Sunil, alumni of SPA Bhopal
# We are pleading with folded hands to Smriti Irani, HRD minister and Ashok Thakur, the secretary, higher education to kindly understand our plight ----Navjit Gaurav, president, alumni association of SPA Bhopal