The Central government is now mulling on the idea of strengthening the University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) by allowing them to have the power to permanently shut down an institution which is not abiding by its norms.
The idea comes after the recent Supreme Court order banning the technical education through distance education mode. The order cancelled the degrees of students from the deemed universities passing out between the year 2001 and 2005.
The regulators of higher education (UGC and AICTE) at present only can issue notices or cancel their affiliation for not confirming to the norms and that too for a limited period of time. After some time, the institution has to apply for fresh affiliation.
The apex court on Friday suspended engineering degrees through distance learning from four institutes: JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth, Rajasthan, Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Rajasthan (IASE), Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Allahabad, and Vinayak Mission Research Foundation (VMRF), Tamil Nadu. The top court also made it clear that no technical course can be allowed to run through distance mode.
“Our regulators do not have enough power. Had that been the case, a situation like this would not have arised where the court would have to cancel degrees of students. The UGC had sent notices to these institutes, asking them to stop technical education courses through distance mode; but, they did not adhere to the orders and continued offering the courses,” said a senior Human Resource Development Ministry official.
“When we talk about a improving our regulatory authorities, we ought to give them more power, including that of deciding on closing down institutions when necessary,” the official said.
As per the Supreme Court judgement, it said that that the government needs to form a committee to manage the regulatory mechanism for higher education.
“The Union of India may constitute a three-member committee comprising eminent persons who have held high positions in the fields of education, investigation, administration, or law at national level within one month. The committee may examine the issues indicated above and suggest a road map for strengthening and setting up of oversight and regulatory mechanism in the relevant field of higher education and allied issues within six months,” the court mentioned in its order.