Concerned over the rise in the number of vacant seats in its technical institutions during the current session, Punjab Technical University (PTU) has constituted a five-member panel of experts to get the academic audit of its 380-odd affiliated colleges conducted by January 31, 2013.
Speaking to Hindustan Times here, PTU vice-chancellor Rajneesh Arora said the panel would make assessments based on parameters designed by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and submit its report by January 31.
"The panel will take into account mandatory disclosure elements of the institution concerned to work on the audit," he said.
HS Shaan, a retired professor from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, is heading the panel, which comprises Kuldeep Singh and RM Vasan (IIT, Roorkee); CB Johan, Punjab Engineering College (PEC) University of Technology, Chandigarh; and SP Singh, former vice-chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
"Apart from helping institutions upgrade their infrastructure and other facilities in tune with the AICTE norms, the move is also aimed at assessing the need to close courses or streams not in demand in a particular region of the state. The panel will suggest and guide college managements on a futuristic approach on such courses," Arora said, adding that the sustainability of the programmes being offered by the institutions would be assessed keeping in view the placement record.
"The placement record of the institutions will be a key factor during the audit," he added.
He said the decline in interest among students to join engineering streams in certain areas of the state was a worrisome trend, even as the audit would help the university make proper academic plans on producing quality human resource.
"In the past five years, the number of colleges has increased substantially, while students' intake had witnessed a decline. We will motivate colleges with more than six years of operations to its credit for getting accredited with the National Board of Accreditation (NBA). This will help them get proper rating, while they could also apply for 'autonomous status institution' as per the norms," he said.
On taking action against colleges found not adhering to the AICTE norms, Arora said the institutions would be allowed to remove their shortcomings by March 31, 2013. "We will take requisite action against defaulters in the next financial year," he added.
Arora said the upcoming Punjab Institutes of Technology (PITs) would be made operational in the next financial year. "Though the Punjab government has transferred land and buildings on lease basis at certain locations, requisite infrastructure and faculty are being arranged for the purpose. We will provide quality technical education through these premier institutions," he said.