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Be informed when you choose a B-school

A large number of institutes are running technical programmes without AICTE approvals. Therefore, to avoid wasting time and money, students must check with the regulatory body before taking admission into any course

education Updated: Jun 01, 2015 19:04 IST
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Jeevan Prakash Sharma
Hindustan Times

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which was created through the AICTE Act of 1987, is the regulator for technical education in India. Apart from granting approvals to educational institutions (to run technical courses), it also carries out routine inspections to ensure that all its affiliated institutions are adhering to the prescribed regulatory norms. The AICTE website contains a section with a list of institutes not complying with its mandatory provisions. Any student seeking admission in a technical or business management course should check the legal status of the institutes he or she wants to join on this website.

“Since a lot of institutes are violating norms and offering courses, it is vital that students are conversant with certain facts concerning regulatory provisions. Of late, institutes have mushroomed across the length and breadth of the country and many of them falsely claim to have approval from regulatory bodies. Regulatory bodies like AICTE are only engaged in conducting inspections and giving approvals. And in cases of violation of norms, the body undertakes the responsibility of de-affiliating the institute and names it on its website. However, the body does not take any punitive action,” says Jasbir Singh Malik, a Supreme Court lawyer.

To understand the purview of technical education, it is important to read section 2(g) of AICTE Act 1987, which says, “technical education means programmes of education, research and training in engineering, technology, architecture, town planning, management, pharmacy and applied arts and crafts and such other programmes or areas as the central government may, in consultation with the council, by notification in the Official Gazette declare.”

Another section of 2(f) states “technical institution” means an institution, not being a university, which offers courses or programme of technical education, and shall include such other institutions as the central government may, in consultation with the council, by notification in the Official Gazette declare as technical institutions.”

So, should universities, created under the act of a competent legislature, take prior approval from AICTE to impart any technical education? For a long time there was ambiguity on this matter.

However, in September 2001, the Supreme Court settled the issue in favour of the universities in the Bharathidasan University case and said, “If we look at the definition of a technical institution under Section 2(h) of the Act, it is clear that a technical institution cannot include a University. The clear intention of the Legislature is not that all institutions whether University or otherwise ought to be treated as technical institutions covered by the Act. If that was the intention, there was no difficulty for the Legislature to have merely provided a definition of technical institution by not excluding University from the definition thereof and thereby avoided the necessity to use alongside both the words technical institutions and University in several provisions in the Act.”

According to legal experts, the position today is that a university and its constituent college (extension of the university or a second campus) do not need prior approval of AICTE to start any technical course. However, a college which is affiliated to a university, has to abide by the AICTE Act and seek prior approval for technical education programmes.

As far as the regulatory body is concerned, it is of the opinion that although universities do not require its prior approval to start a new department or course or programme in technical education, they do have a moral obligation to conform to the prescribed standards and norms. “For the purpose of ensuring coordinated and integrated development of technical education and maintenance of standards, AICTE may cause an inspection of the university, which has to be as per the provisions under the relevant rules/regulations of the AICTE,” says senior AICTE official.

Though the Supreme Court has cleared the air in the matter of universities imparting technical education, the domain of architecture is another bone of contention between AICTE and the Council of Architecture (CoA). Recently the Supreme Court, through an interim order, asked the colleges offering architecture programmes to get approvals from AICTE as well as CoA so that the students who pass out in the coming years are not caught in the crossfire in case of any dispute between the two regulatory authorities.

In another interesting case, some business management institutes had challenged AICTE’s power of regulating management courses in the Supreme Court and had argued that business management was not technical education and hence AICTE should not regulate it. The Apex court, stripping AICTE of its regulatory powers in a judgment dated April 25, 2013, had held that management education was no longer a part of AICTE’s domain. However, it reversed its position with two consecutive orders in 2014. “It is directed that prior approval of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is compulsory and mandatory to conduct any technical course, including the MBA/management course by an existing affiliated technical college and also new technical college which will require affiliation by a University for conduct of its technical courses/programmes for the academic year 2014-15,” the SC order dated May 9, 2014, said in the matter of Orissa Technical Colleges Association vs AICTE. The same order has been extended for the academic session of 2015-16. Now all business management institutes, once again, have come under the ambit of AICTE for regulatory purposes.

“AICTE regulates those institutes which run master’s in business management (MBA) and post-graduate diploma in management (PGDM). Bachelor in business management (BBA) does not come under AICTE’s regulatory purview. For running MBA programmes, an institute needs an affiliation from a university. This is because only universities can grant postgraduate degrees. As far as those institutes which run PGDM programmes are concerned, they do not require any university affiliation. However, they have to seek AICTE’s approval to start the course and adhere to the Council’s norms,” says Dr Avinash S. Pant, chairman (acting), AICTE.

The PGDM course is very prestigious and were started by the IIMs. “Eventually, autonomous institutes started offering these programmes,” says Pant.

Approval process

# A university which wants to start technical programmes does not need prior AICTE approval. However, colleges/institutes affiliated to the university need to apply to the Council (for approval) to run technical courses

# AICTE does not regulate BBA programmes. However, institutes which want to start MBA programmes, need to have university affiliation along with AICTE approval

# University affiliation is not required for PGDM courses. All institutes running PGDM programmes are regulated only by AICTE

# At present, Institutes running Bachelor of Architecture programmes, need to get a university’s affiliation along with two approvals – one from AICTE and the other from CoA